The Other Canada

A month or so ago we gave Ontario a whack, for deciding that testing whether their teachers could do arithmetic was racist. That was not the first time we had run into Canadian nitwittery. Last year, Greg Ashman went to battle with some pretty obtuse Canadians, over Alberta’s new mathematics curriculum. And, ACARA somehow landed upon British Columbia’s pretty flaky curriculum for one of their international benchmark thingos. One could be forgiven for concluding that Canada is a Federation of weirdnesses.

But, maybe not totally.

Our friend and colleague Dave Treeby has pointed us to an announcement for the Calgary Classical Academy, a new public primary school in Calgary, Alberta. The puff in their promo indicates what a weirdly reactionary school they intend to be:

The Calgary Classical Academy will offer an academically rigorous liberal arts education focused on developing “the knowledge, virtues, and habits befitting free citizens.” Among the school’s distinct features are a smartphone-free environment; its embrace of traditional pedagogy and teacher-led classrooms; ancient and modern language offerings; a focus on character and the nurturing of virtues; classical fine and performing arts; and an explicit commitment to the pursuit of truth and beauty.

Students attending the school will benefit from a knowledge-rich curriculum that is highly integrated across grade levels and disciplines. The program will adopt the “trivium” progression, wherein pupils achieve mastery of grammar, formal logic, and finally rhetoric. They will study classic and enduring works of literature, philosophy, arts, and sciences from around the world, so that they may benefit from the wisdom of the past, and preserve and build upon it for posterity. 

Yep, just one school in one mid-level city, on the other side of the planet. But, it’s a glimmer. And, as they say, any glimmer in a storm.

10 Replies to “The Other Canada”

  1. Sounds intriguing. In Victoria, registered schools would be obliged to offer an approved curriculum although it need not be the Victorian Curriculum.

    1. Of course, in practice half the schools drone through an aimless curriculum, using a text written by idiots. And the public schools are even worse.

  2. Sounds refreshing although I was concerned when I read “liberal arts education”. Speaking of being concerned following reading matters education-related, here’s something unpleasant that I accidentally stepped on while going about my own business. Hopefully you can read the attachment. Or, depending on your perspective, hopefully you cannot. However, spare a kind thought for those hapless souls macheteing their way through the putrid ITE jungle: such danger lurks at every turn.

      1. Indeed it is; from her book ‘Mathematical Mindsets’ (which just happens to be putrefying on my desk as we speak). You have a very good nose my friend. My new mantra while enduring my ITE experience: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” (replacing “This shit stinks any way you sniff it”). I’m trying to be positive (but…).

          1. Um, I was tripping over it on the floor so I relocated it…
            and the paper is too glossy to be effective as toilet paper!
            Seriously, though, it’s simply to “Know thy enemy”.

    1. I was this child, but it did hold me back. Eventually I gained enough tricks that my times tables looked automatic, and finally (around Year 10), I learned the last few facts. School, home, and myself all tried so hard and not knowing them was really annoying. However, this reeks of “then everyone clapped” energy.

  3. There are several American private schools (and homeschooling groups) also that tout the trivium and refer to Dorothy Sayers’ essay. It is a little bit of a movement. They tend to do phonics for reading, classic literature, drill for math, and…Latin (yikes). It’s definitely anti ed reform. But I’m not sure if it is optimal versus more normal programs.

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