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Global Talks Thursday (Dec 10, 2020): Dialogue on Curriculum and Instruction in Relations to the Pandemic/Online Education

Public forum: How school funding matters

Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice

Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice

Public Seminar Sponsored by
Institute for Critical Education Studies

July 13, 2016
Scarfe 2108
2125 Main Mall
University of British Columbia

Carolina Castro, Héctor Gómez, and Fernando Murillo, co-authors in the recently published book Desafíos y Tensiones en la Gestión Curricular: Teoría y Práctica [Challenges and Tensions in Curriculum Management: Theory and Practice] in Chile, will present their contributions to the discussion of curriculum design, development and implementation in the contexts of schools and higher education.

The book, co–edited by Gómez and Castro, gives voice to a variety of perspectives and experiences in schools and higher education. In this regard the authors ask: How is curriculum managed? Who is involved in the process and how? What authority do curriculum managers have, and how is power distributed in order to influence and make decisions on the curriculum? What effective spaces for innovation exist? How are perennial and new issues considered in the management of curriculum?

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.11.50 PMCurriculum Design and the Teaching Role: An Outstanding Relationship. Reflections From Research at a Hospital-Based School
Carolina Castro

Bachelor in Education – Primary School Teacher, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum. Head of the Curriculum Unit at Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez in Santiago, Chile.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.12.04 PMProfessional Formation Beyond the Know-How: Considerations and Challenges for a Post-Competence Curriculum Management
Fernando M. Murillo

Bachelor in Education – TEFL, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum, UBC PhD student in Curriculum Studies

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 6.12.16 PMTeacher Education in Chile: Curriculum design and its Complex Discourses.
Héctor Gómez

Bachelor in Education – Teacher of History and Social Sciences, Master of Arts in Education and Curriculum, UBC PhD Student in Curriculum Studies


Philae lands on comet #esarosetta #notimpressed #yathink #whadayathink

Yathink if we can land a probe on a comet we can end child poverty in the world?

Electric-Rock (06)

Yep, they finally put a machine on a rock. A moving rock. In space. Hurtling through space at 34,000 miles per hour. A machine on a rock 317 million miles away. How could you miss? The rock is 2.5 miles wide.

BCTF President Iker calls Liberals Minister on letter and inaccuracies #bced #bcpoli #ubced #yteubc

Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun, February 7, 2014— Education minister Peter Fassbender sent an email directly to teachers on Friday, in an attempt to explain the government’s perspective on their rocky relationship.

Teachers from across the province responded with frustration on social media, in interviews and with letters to Fassbender copied to The Vancouver Sun.

Fassbender’s email comes after the announcement Tuesday that the government intends to appeal a court case it lost to B.C. teachers last month.

In the court ruling, Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin said legislation passed in 2012 was virtually identical to a 2002 bill she had previously ruled as unconstitutional because it violated teachers’ rights to bargain class size and composition clauses. Fassbender said Tuesday that the ruling could cost as much as $1 billion to implement because it forces the province to retroactively restore class size and composition language that was removed from teachers’ contracts in 2002.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker said Fassbender’s letter is not historically accurate and he doesn’t think the government should be directly approaching BCTF members.

“We have a government that seems to be in denial about the decision, the facts of the decision and what their responsibility is,” Iker said. “What we should be getting from Christy Clark is an apology — to teachers, to students, to parents, to all British Columbians — for not upholding the constitution.”

Iker noted that the facts of the case were not disputed by either the BCTF or the government during the court case.

Fassbender’s letter says in 2011, “the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that government had not followed a proper process in with the BCTF in removing those sections. Government accepted that decision and spent the following year in consultation with the BCTF attempting to fix the problem.

“But last week, the court ruled that the government’s efforts fell short.”

The judge’s decision said, “The Court has concluded that the government did not negotiate in good faith with the union after the Bill 28 Decision.” Further, the judge found that the legislation introduced after the 2011 decision was “identical to that first branch of what was previously declared unconstitutional, namely, the deletion and prohibition of hundreds of collective agreement terms on working conditions.”

Fassbender’s letter said what he finds most disappointing is the judge’s characterization that government sought to provoke a strike.

Griffin based her finding that the government wanted to provoke a strike on confidential government documents, specifically notes from Paul Straszak, the former CEO of the government’s bargaining agent, the Public Sector Employers’ Council. The government has declined to release these internal documents.

Vancouver music teacher Mark Reid said that the minister has a right to disagree with Griffin’s ruling.

“You’d more easily persuade me and, in fact, all citizens of the province if you released these so-called contentious cabinet documents for public review,” Reid said in an email to Fassbender that he shared with The Sun. “The fact is that a Supreme Court Justice ruled on fact and law. Your appeal of the law is within the rights of any individual or group who have stood before the court and received its ruling. The finding of facts cannot be disputed. I sincerely hope that the choice to appeal was cemented in principle, not in pride, economics, or the policy objectives you so highly hold.”

Maple Ridge teacher Erin Smeed told The Sun that she was annoyed when she read the letter.

“I was frustrated with the inaccuracies in it, specifically implying that we didn’t have class size and composition language before provincial bargaining, which is flatly untrue. We had that language in our district,” said Smeed, who teaches English to adults in continuing education.

Fassbender’s note says: “Through several years at the bargaining table, elected school trustees consistently resisted efforts to entrench any local teacher-student ratios and formulas into the provincial contract.”

Smeed, whose parents were a teacher and a school administrator, said she feels Fassbender is trying to circumvent the proper bargaining process.

“Sit down at the table and talk to our democratically elected leadership instead of wasting time trying to talk directly to the masses,” Smeed said.

Read more: Vancouver Sun

Some BC and Alberta schools dump percentage grading

Should schools move away from grading students? Yes!

Of course, it’s a time “honoured” tradition to use grades as the key means of sorting students to meet the demands of business. But, if you’re more more interested in motivating students to learn and less interested in treating education like a commodity, there’s really little room to debate the point.

School boards in Ridge Meadows, BC and Battle River, AB have decided to stop giving percentage grades to their students.

The Vancouver Sun recently ran a story on the Ridge Meadows Schools (Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows BC) that have adopted an alternative approach to student assessment in which elementary teachers are no longer required to give letter grades to students.

Rather than assigning As, Bs or Cs to kids from grades 4 to 7, teachers can instead use the conference model to assess how well children are grasping course material, as well as their learning style, readiness to progress and comprehension of overall concepts. The standard reporting system does not assign letter grades for students in kindergarten to Grade 3, but under the new system, students in all elementary grades will be invited to participate more fully in their evaluations by completing self-assessments and setting future learning goals.

The alternative system will engage students while providing more meaning to parents than a simple letter grade, said Ridge Meadows school trustee Susan Carr, who has two children in the school system.

Ridge Meadows school trustees were unanimous in their support for the new approach, which was developed over the past two years by a district committee. The Ridge Meadows News reported that “Committee members noted the feedback from parents who have been involved so far is “through-the-roof positive.”

In Alberta, the Battle River School District’s has adopted an alternative grading system that replaces percentage grades with categories.

Under the assessment model, students are marked with an achievement level that indicates they are within a percentage range. A student scoring between zero and 50 per cent would be at the “beginning” level. A “developing” student is within the 50-66 per cent range, “achieving” is between 67 and 83 per cent and “excelling” ranges from 84-100 per cent. (The Edmonton Journal)

Camrose, AB parents don’t seem to be has uniformly positive about Battle River’s decision as about 150 recently protested the move.

Today on CBC Radio’s The 180 with Jim BrownSandra Mathison, a UBC education professor and member of the Institute for Critical Education Studies discussed the issue of grading students and provided some sharp counter-point to Michael Zwaagstra, a high school teacher who is affiliated with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (a Fraser Institute clone that is primarily funded by right-wing outfits like the Donner Foundation).

The Frontier Centre and Zwaagstra’s views on education get a lot of play on the editorial pages of Vancouver’s daily papers, both of which prominently embrace and espouse neoliberal public policy, which places the interests of corporate capital and their shareholders over the interests of people.

It was interesting to hear Zwaagstra shift to center when confronted with Mathison’s counter-point.

Get the podcast of this episode of The 180 with Jim Brown here.


New issue of Critical Education launched: Embracing Change: Reflection on Practice in Immigrant Communities

Critical Education has just published its latest issue at We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to read articles and items of interest.

Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,

Sandra Mathison
Stephen Petrina
E. Wayne Ross
Co-Editors, Critical Education
Institute for Critical Education Studies
University of British Columbia

Critical Education
Vol 3, No 7 (2012)
Table of Contents

Embracing Change: Reflection on Practice in Immigrant Communities
Gresilda Anne Tilley-Lubbs, Jennifer McCloud

CFP: “Teach for America and the Future of Education in the US”

Call for Submissions
Critical Education Special Series

“Teach for America and the Future of Education in the US”
Guest Editor: Philip E. Kovacs, University of Alabama, Huntsville

Founded in 1990 by Princeton graduate Wendy Kopp, Teach for America (TFA) has grown from a tiny organization with limited impact to what some supporters call the most significant force in educational reform today. Indeed the organization has recently been embraced by both the president of the National Educational Association and U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan as a force for tremendous good.

Critics argue otherwise, pointing to data that is mixed at best while questioning the almost $500 million annual operating budget of the non-profit, a significant portion of which comes from U.S. taxpayers. In light of questionable results and practices (such as using non-certified TFA recruits to work with special education students in direct violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) organizations are working to end TFA’s “highly qualified teacher” provision in 2013, an effort TFA is aggressively trying to thwart.

In an effort to provide assistance to those organizations working to maintain the integrity of the teaching profession, the Critical Education seeks research on TFA’s practices, procedures, outcomes, and impacts. We are looking for empirical and theoretical pieces written in a style that congressional staffers can easily access and understand. We are not interested in pieces that sacrifice intellectual rigor for ease of reading, but we are also wary of overly theorized pieces that alienate readers outside of the academy.

In addition to full-length manuscripts (5,000-8,000 words), we are also soliciting short accounts of TFA’s impact in specific cities to be presented as “field reports.”

Proposals of no more than 200 words due by September 15, 2012.

Notice of acceptance of proposal by October 1, 2012

Final Submission due by February 1, 2013.

For more information on submission contact Philip Kovacs at:

Critical Education is an international peer-reviewed journal, which seeks manuscripts that critically examine contemporary education contexts and practices. Critical Education is interested in theoretical and empirical research as well as articles that advance educational practices that challenge the existing state of affairs in society, schools, and informal education.