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"What a student should know and be able to do...." Funny, but I don't see any evidence of actual required knowledge -- in the traditional sense of knowledge -- in any of these five expectations. The goals you've outlined are excellent habits of mind and personal characteristics, but they ignore the "what a student should know" aspect of school.

School improvement will remain a unattainable goal until administrators and school boards are willing to tackle the curriculum question specifically: What, exactly, do we want our students to learn? Ignoring this important component of education is foolhardy.

Tammy Sillers

I find this work you're approaching very intriguing, as it really aligns with my philosophy of education. Your five expectations remind me very much of the Common Essential Learnings (CELs)we have in our province (Communication, Critical & Creative Thinking, Independent Learning, Numeracy, Technological Literacy, and Personal & Social Values and Skills) which are supposed to be integrated across all subject areas and all grade levels. Unfortunately, in light of curriculum that still houses a great deal of content, these critical pieces are often overlooked.

I personally think the CELs should be our driving force in the curriculum - and not the "knowledge" we expect kids to have. While I realize you can't throw out content entirely, we really need to start questioning how necessary it is for kids to memorize information when they can find out anything they want in 0.2 seconds on Google.

I applaud your efforts and wish you luck!


Knowledge is one of those illusive words. It can mean many different things. In answer to the anonymous comment above the content of our curriculum is driven by content standards. There is plenty of content knowledge to be explored. However the SLE's we have adopted are about thinking skills and using content. We can teach all the facts we want but if we have not taught our students how to use information for new learning and how to learn I think we have failed. Look closely at the wording of the SLE's almost every one is about using content based knowledge and being an effective learner. I believe essential learning is embodied here because the content may change overtime but if I know how to find it, evaluate it and use it then I am educated.
Tammy, we too often get sidetracked. We are hoping that as we seek ways to measure our progress toward the SLE's it will help us keep the big picture in mind.

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