Quebec government says it is open to changing controversial high school history course | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Quebec government says it is open to changing controversial high school history course

March 11, 2016 - 2:48 PM

MONTREAL - Quebec's current high school history course wrongly teaches students to value multiculturalism, diversity and pluralism, says the man who spearheaded its controversial replacement.

Critics in the anglophone community say the proposed course, which is being tested in about 30 high schools across the province, diminishes the role of immigrant communities and presents the Quebecois people as a unified group of Europeans in perpetual conflict with the rest of English Canada.

Jacques Beauchemin, who helped write the proposed curriculum, told The Canadian Press on Friday the current history course tries to "fabricate a type of Quebecer" that wants to be a "citizen of the world."

Teaching students to value multiculturalism is just as bad as teaching them to be hard-line Quebec nationalists, said Beauchemin, who authored a report on the new curriculum while working as a civil servant during the Parti Quebecois minority rule in 2014.

"The current history program, in essence, tries to educate young people about multiculturalism or pluralist citizenship, saying you live in a Canada or Quebec that is diverse," said Beauchemin, a university professor.

"That's true, that's an objective fact. (But) In the same way that teaching students a (hardline) nationalist history would be reprehensible, I think its not the best idea to tell them to have an extreme appreciation for multiculturalism and diversity."

Beauchemin defends the new program and says teaching students about being a good citizen doesn't belong in a history course and can be taught separately. That's why citizenship was removed from the equation in the version being tested.

The Canadian Press obtained an 83-page draft copy of the proposed new curriculum, called "History of Quebec and Canada."

The two-year course, beginning in the ninth grade, presents Quebec and Canadian history in a series of chronological facts and events focusing on the struggles and conflicts of the Quebecois nation.

Some teachers and professors familiar with the course say its rigid, nationalist narrative doesn't leave room for individual stories of the province's diverse communities.

For example, in the guidelines teachers use to craft their lesson plans, Confederation in 1867 is not a theme, but tucked into the larger section called "1840-1896: The formation of the Canadian federal system."

The only mention of prime minister Pierre Trudeau, considered the father of multiculturalism in Canada, is in the context of him "inviting the provincial governments to reopen the Canadian Constitution," after which Quebec left "empty handed."

Non-European francophone immigrants are scantily mentioned except in the section called "From 1980 to the present day: Quebec at a time of choices."

"Quebec’s population increased mainly through immigration," the section reads. "Priority was given to French-speaking immigrants or those from Latin American countries. New demographic issues emerged. Life expectancy improved."

Quebec's new education minister, Sebastien Proulx said he's heard the criticism and agrees the course needs to reflect the entirety of "the cultural and linguistic specificity of Quebec."

Proulx said he hadn't read the details of the new program, produced for the minority PQ government under Pauline Marois but being rolled by the Liberals, who swept to power in 2014.

"I read the big themes, but the pilot project is ongoing and consultations and discussions are happening," Proulx said. "I want to say simply that the program will be inclusive and recognize the Quebecois reality — it's not finished yet."

Follow @gvaliante on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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