The Central Okanagan school board was presented with what chairperson Moyra Baxter called an “unusual” request during last week’s regular board meeting.
The presenters, Jane Nordquist, a teacher at Rose Valley Elementary and vice-president of COPAC Sarah Shakespeare asked the school board to consider putting a new focus on civics.
The presentation emphasized teaching students democracy, citizenship and the values of civic duties.
The pair made three requests for the district to “unite with associations to endorse more mindful civics, focusing attention on civics being taught in schools, and collaborating with UBCO for a civics inquiry project.”
Nordquist brought up the recent US election with its political leaders condoning hate speech and how a general mistrust of politicians has developed.
“Do we as educations have the ability to address that stigma?” she asked.
Canada is the main topic in Grade 10 social studies classes which include civic and democracy studies, said superintendent Kevin Kaardal, adding a group called Student Vote is also invited to the district.
Student Vote coincides with real elections, offering students an opportunity to learn about candidates and how the voting process works.
The district also has civics integrated throughout the social studies curriculum.
In Grade 10, students learn about Canadian history with John A. MacDonald, then focus on political ideologies in Grade 11 and cover topics in Grade 12 history like the holocaust and indigenous studies.
“I don’t think we could make a decision tonight, I could see this being a huge debate,” said board chairperson Moyra Baxter.
The board forwarded the request to the coordinating committee for further examination.
Nordquist wishes to create a dialogue and bring these ideas to the public.