So @DavidStaplesYEG, the @EdmontonJournal columnist with an uncanny ability to deliver the very hottest of not-even-wrong takes, offers a column on the new K-4 Social Studies curriculum that is astonishing in the multitudinous ways it manages to bungle the details. #abed #ableg
So let's start from the top. Staples alleged that the draft K-4 curriculum was being kept under wraps in order to something-something-NDP-bad, & not (say) b/c it's a prelim draft & this is just an early phase of the feedback & review process. #abed #ableg
It's a very early draft. It's expected to have rough edges, and that's why they're gathering initial feedback from the people that signed-up to participate in this preliminary review process. This stuff is completely routine, even mundane. #abed #ableg
A future draft of the new curriculum will indeed be published online and through other venues to gather wider comment, *after* incorporating this early feedback. As much as Staples & co like to imagine that there's a Curriculum Conspiracy at play, it's not the case. #abed #ableg
This assumption that routine and completely benign elements of the curriculum update process are some sort of nefarious ploy by the current gov't has become a common refrain from Staples. For months he's complained that the curriculum rewrite is being "politicized" #abed #ableg
It's not. The NDP doesn't have a direct hand in updating the curriculum--it's being handled by an assortment of teachers, profs, education experts, etc. As it should be! Experts in pedagogy are exactly who we should want leading the rewrite. #abed #ableg…
That hasn't stopped the UCP from trying to use the idea that the NDP is somehow tainting the process as a wedge issue, & Staples has been complicit in driving that narrative despite his own remarkable inability to substantiate these claims. #abed #ableg…
AB's teachers have been clear that there's nothing unusual or politicized about the review, but nonetheless Staples continues to tilt at this particular windmill and the UCP's leadership is happy to point at his columns as evidence of a heinous Curriculum Conspiracy. #abed #ableg
In short, the only actual sources of "politicization" of this curriculum review have been the UCP & folks like Staples who continually insist something is awry even the process couldn't be more mundane. The rewrite is completely transparent. #abed #ableg…
There is no conspiracy. It should go without saying, but Alberta's teachers aren't out to turn your children into "zealots". They just want a curriculum that's been updated at some point in the 21st century. Our children deserve one! #abed #ableg…
So yesterday Staples was hyperventilating about snagging a "stolen" copy of the draft (which he would've been welcome to review anyway, if he bothered). Far from being secret, there has been more public input into this curriculum update than any before. #abed #ableg
Oh, and the Journal published Staples' copy right here. Feel free to read it yourself! Unsurprisingly, Staples is grossly misrepresenting what's actually in the document. Why would he do that? 🤔 #abed #ableg
So today he delivered the first of a couple columns about the terrible terrible things he found in the draft. His claims are so over-the-top as to be laughable ("there is no such thing as Albertans or even Canadians"? Really??), but let's break it down anyway. #abed #ableg
His column makes 3 broad claims: #abed #ableg
1) The new curriculum removes any mention of history (except for where it does) & even of Albertans/Canadians. Instead it makes repeated references to indigenous people, settlers, francophones, etc & the relationships between them (aka "Albertans" & "their history") #abed #ableg
2) It contains "buzzwords" like "equity, fairness, giving, sharing, inclusion and diversity" & will turn children into "intolerant zealots" that "become intellectually fragile, overreacting to small slights, demanding safe spaces & shutting down opposing viewpoints" #abed #ableg
3) Jonathan Haidt has talked about how the social justice movement can be harmful because "victims become sacred" and that stifles "intelligent discussions". This one makes up half of the column, which sucks because writing about Haidt's relevance is boring. Alas... #abed #ableg
OK, so #1: Staples makes several ridiculous claims. And I do mean ridiculous! Close your eyes and imagine what's it's like to be capable of believing this stuff, and you'll gain a deeper understanding of why social studies is such an important subject. #abed #ableg
To use the parlance of our times, some of these claims are, er, "racially charged". Maybe you remember what your own K-4 social studies education was like, i.e., mostly focused on these very same topics, maybe with a focus on the history of European colonization. #abed #ableg
The thing is, that post-European focus can end up under-emphasizing the vast majority of Alberta's history. Settlers arrived in this region just a few hundred years ago, while Alberta's indigenous peoples have lived here for millennia. That history matters too! #abed #ableg
Regardless, Staples' claim that the new curriculum doesn't place a priority on teaching history & doesn't reference "Albertans or Canadians" just doesn't hold water. Indigenous people, settlers, & other groups and the relationships between them *is* our history. #abed #ableg
Moreover, that's who Albertans & Canadians are! Staples whines that this splits Albertans between "settlers and their victims". The curriculum doesn't say or do anything remotely like that, but this belief underscores how lacking Staples' own understanding truly is. #abed #ableg
That he couldn't find many instances of the word "history" in a cursory search doesn't mean the topic is actually absent. It seems Staples would benefit from a refresher on reading comprehension (though "How the NDP killed reading & math" is tomorrow's column) #abed #ableg
#2: I'm hard pressed to understand why anyone thinks teaching children about fairness, sharing, inclusion, & diversity could be a bad thing. Staples seemingly thinks it's all just cover for EVIL SJW INDOCTRINATION, but should we not be teaching these virtues? #abed #ableg
I won't belabour the point much because it's absurd to act like these are bad things. Even Staples suggests the fix for his quibbles is to have the curriculum reworked "by experts with wide viewpoint diversity". Diversity is good, except when it's bad, I guess? #abed #ableg
Of course he also says that these experts would ideally be "apolitical subject experts in history and geography". What, pray tell, does an "apolitical" expert in history look like? What makes them different from the experts already working on the curriculum, eh? 🤔🤔 #abed #ableg
& finally, #3: Staples seemingly sees Haidt as an anti-"SJW" crusader of sorts,& having read some of the man's work I don't think he'd appreciate that depiction. Haidt is largely on-board with the goals of social justice, but Staples acts like he's a JB Peterson-lite #abed #ableg
Like Peterson (a dilettante whom Staples adores), Haidt does decry the social justice movement, albeit not in academic literature (most likely because those complaints are too ill-defined to muster past peer-review). #abed #ableg
But very much *unlike* Peterson, Haidt doesn't appear to believe that ancient peoples know about DNA, or that fantasizing about beating up toddlers is normal, etc etc. He's grounded in reality, and rightly enjoys far more respect from academics than Peterson does. #abed #ableg
Haidt's contributions to the literature aren't unusually controversial. Like many academics,he understandably saves his more bombastic claims for speeches & popular-press books where he isn't subject to nuisances like "peer-review" or "having evidence for his claims" #abed #ableg
To be sure, Haidt has made bold (& controversial) claims about foundational diffs between conservatives & liberals that I shan't dive into myself, b here's some reading if you're so inclined:… |… |… #abed #ableg
Honestly, it's hard to get too worked up about him. He's done interesting (if contested) work on the psychology of morality. He doesn't claim to be any sort of expert on pedagogy, though he has qualms about the state of discourse on university campuses. #abed #ableg
So the relevant detail is Haidt's claims about the purported conflict between the search for "social justice" vs the search for "truth" on university campuses (even though he doesn't have much to say about the K-4 classroom). #abed #ableg
You may have noticed that there's a difference between discourse in a Gr 4 class vs on a university campus. Apparently Staples has not, since he tries to misapply Haidt's more controversial and decidely non-academic claims about campuses to an elementary curriculum. #abed #ableg
Haidt says that university students engaged by the social justice movement hold their beliefs strongly, but can't actually defend them. That's a weird claim to make & I don't think it's accurate myself, but he also doesn't offer much evidence for this so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #abed #ableg
If you want an equally valid contrary anecdote, just ask any university student about why diversity is valuable yourself. You're likely to encounter a well articulated explanation. These ideas aren't hard to defend, nor are they incompatible w/ the "search for truth" #abed #ableg
I know I'm boring you b/c what 1 noted psych prof says abt univ campuses clearly isn't all that applicable to an elementary curriculum, so I'll just point to this discussion of these purportedly "incompatible values" #abed #ableg… |…
And that's it. That's all of Staples' evidence that the new social studies curriculum has been "politicized" by the NDP (even though they're not the ones that are actually authoring it). Mostly it amounts to his own inability to understand the document. Go figure... #abed #ableg
He says history has been removed from the curriculum, but it actually hasn't. He says it *denies the very existence of Albertans*, but *of course* it doesn't. That's just silly. So silly one wonders how Staples imagined he could defend this claim... #abed #ableg
He says it's going to turn children into 'fragile zealots', but it actually teaches them to care about their fellow humans, and to give consideration to viewpoints & experiences other than their own. Read it for yourself, see if you agree that it's a zealot-factory. #abed #ableg
He says there's a psychologist that wouldn't like it, and *maybe* Haidt would take issue? But Haidt isn't an expert on education or pedagogy in particular--his forte is the psychology of adult morality. #abed #ableg
I also kind of doubt that Haidt would get all that worked up about a curriculum for 10 year olds just because it mentions "inclusivity" & "diversity". Maybe he would. If only some journalist thought to ask him... #abed #ableg
Whether Staples is so uninformed as to actually believe his own claims, or merely expects that his audience is dull enough to lap these claims up despite the fact that none of it stands up to the slightest scrutiny, is an exercise I'll leave to the reader. #abed #ableg
That the @EdmontonJournal would sully their pages and insult their readership's intelligence by publishing this claptrap should be an embarrassment to Staples' colleagues. #abed #ableg
His partisan pandering threatens an important process, and we need look no further than Ontario for what these hysterics can all too easily lead to. Tossing out the hard work of our province's educators because aging conservatives find it uncomfortable is a bad move #abed #ableg
Staples concludes by saying that the new curriculum will produce "intolerant zealots weaponized by social justice ideals", itself an amazing contradiction in terms. Tolerance is the new intolerance it seems. Won't someone think of the children? #abed #ableg
He says "we need a curriculum that will help produce citizens with a deep, broad knowledge and understanding of human societies and the physical world", and that's exactly what this curriculum does. Read it yourself–the only boogieman here is in Staples' imagination #abed #ableg
And if you have the time, hop over to Staples profile--his callow defences of this horrendous article make for a good laugh! #abed #ableg
Aw shucks, Twitter's thread-authoring tools messed up my gifs and put some of them on the wrong tweets. Oh well, I don't think I'll bother reposting this whole thing. It's a bit long and the audience is a bit small...
Of the tweets that got mucked up by Twitter's thread-tools, this one's then worst. The gif is meant to go with the tweet about Staples "hyperventilating" yesterday, and this one was supposed to have these 3 pics attached.
OK I take back the small audience part. Anyway, apropos of nothing, here's a fun bot I made:

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