Preliminary Review of 2021 Draft Alberta Wellness Curriculum
I thought I was going to be writing nice little inspiring blog posts about health and well-being.
Nope. This one has cut me to the core. I feel like Creator is calling me out of hiding and into standing firmly in my convictions. Except they are not mine. They are universal.
Over 25 years of teaching, graduate studies, research, and deeply personal experiences have taught me to dig deep, be authentic, be a critical thinker, and to utilize my strengths and personal beliefs to create a mission statement and voice that is true to who I am as a human being. It has also taught me to engage in acts of resistance and to acknowledge that not everyone is going to like what I have to say. However, opposition does not stop me from my destiny. As a Ph.D. psychologist and educator, I am in a privileged position of having the education and ethics to speak out against injustices by engaging in leading edge best practices.
Recently, with the 2021 Alberta Curriculum draft under fire, I stepped up to the plate (pun intended) to provide a preliminary review of the Wellness Curriculum. I identified that the “knowledge based” focus of this curriculum is detrimental to children’s well-being. For example, we cannot promote mass as a measurement of growth in Grade One without the risk of children becoming afraid of developmentally appropriate weight gain over time. We cannot promote the identification of “healthy and unhealthy foods” without the risk of food shaming. We cannot promote “creating fitness goals” in Grade Two without the risk of school-based fitness testing. We cannot have children in Grade Four reading food labels without the risk of developing an obsession with calorie counting and further food shaming. Even further, there was a distinct lack of a holistic approach to wellness education using Comprehensive School Health, the Seven Dimensions of Health (physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, and environmental), and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit inclusion. Even further, I cannot imagine having Christianity being a foundation taught in public school when ALL religions and spiritual practices are important in our communities. All of these issues fly in the face of my last 20 years of researching evidence-based best practices from a holistic health promotion and eating disorder prevention perspective.
I simply cannot sit back and witness future generations of children become obsessed with appearance, fitness, and food issues. Rather, they need educational experiences to focus on attunement with their bodies, enjoying physical activity, practicing emotional intelligence, and learning to relate to each other and their communities in a healthy way. This moment in time feels like the very moment that life has been preparing me for!
It does not matter to me what political party happens to be in power. It never did. What matters to me is doing the right thing for our children, our communities, and our province.
There will be more to come.
I will not be silent.
Our children’s future is at stake. (Read my Preliminary Review of 2021 Draft Wellness Curriculum)
As a result of my preliminary review of the Wellness curriculum, I am honoured and humbled to have been invited to be a part of the Steering Committee for academics and experts writing reviews about the curriculum. This non-partisan and altruistic group of academics seeks to advocate for evidence-based best practices to form the foundation of the new curriculum across all grades and in all subject areas. We truly want the best for future generations. Please see the website for expert reviews and best practice recommendations:
Read the full review here.