Alberta elementary school program allows students to choose "majors"

August 11, 2010

A pilot program at an Alberta elementary school will see students as young as 7 placed in classes according to their interests, giving them a kind of childhood "major." In connection with the University of Calgary, teachers at R.J. Hawkey Elementary School, in Airdrie, will teach the mandated provincial curriculum from Grades 2 to 4 through one of 4 specialized "lenses" -- the arts, scientific inquiry, sports, and humanitarian/environment. Each interest stream will be exposed to other classes' teaching, and students will have the chance to change their specialization at the beginning of every school year. The school's principal says the goal of the program, which is unique in Canada, is to boost classroom engagement. uCalgary researchers will assess the program, analyzing factors such as whether students feel correctly placed, student engagement, parent satisfaction, and academic achievement. The program's announcement has sparked a flurry of angry letters from students and teachers to the Airdrie Echo. National Post | Airdrie Echo | Editorial | Letters to the editor (June 16) | Letters to the editor (June 23) | Letters to the editor (July 4)