Secularism and critical thinking: the CAQ presents the Culture and Quebec citizenship course

The new course will be divided into three components: culture, Quebec citizenship and critical thinking, and its themes will be spread over time, depending on the age of the students.

The first part aims to bring students to understand the culture of societies, by granting a place preponderant to Quebec culture. It will therefore make it possible to study the foundations, evolution and particularities of Quebec, said Mr. Roberge.

Our young people will have the chance to discover Quebec culture, to get to know it and, I dare say it, to love it too.

A quote from:Jean-François Roberge, Quebec Minister of Education

The second part – in a way the objective of the program, according to the minister – will try to prepare young people for the exercise of Quebec citizenship, emphasizing the values ​​of the company. Indigenous cultures will be discussed in particular.

It will be about self-respect and respect for others, gender equality, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, rights and freedoms, but also the responsibilities of everyone within the community. society, detailed Mr. Roberge.

The course should also address the representation of sexuality in public space, including sexual violence, which is still too prevalent, as well as the challenges related to environmental and digital issues, including social media and fake news, he continued.

The course will also aim to introduce students to democratic and judicial institutions in Quebec.

As for the third axis, it aims to develop students’ critical thinking. through the practice of dialogue, by tackling moral dilemmas and by positioning oneself in relation to religious, social issues or coming from different cultures.

Greater social cohesion

The Minister says he is convinced that this will to limit the growing polarization in our society and lead to better social cohesion.

Democracy is not unanimity, it is the possibility of discussing the future, society and the common world that we share. It is accepting disagreement. He is normal.

A quote from:Jean-François Roberge, Quebec Minister of Education

Jean-François Roberge thus deplored the fact that the remarks currently conveyed in Quebec lack nuance.

Everything is white or everything is black. There are the good guys, there are the bad guys. This is not conducive to dialogue and respectful exchanges. There are calls for censorship, disrespect on social media, attacks on free expression. […] It is certain that in Quebec, we can do better, he said.

For Jean-François Roberge, the Ethics and Religious Culture course required modernization, because it projected images that were too often stereotyped and defined the identity in relation to the religious community of the individual. This bias, according to the minister, contravenes Quebec values.

The old course brought debate and ethics, but sometimes prevented the questioning of certain dogmas. Everything must be open to discussion and debate.

A quote from:Jean-François Roberge, Quebec Minister of Education

The result of a consultation

According to the Parliamentary Assistant for Education, Jean-Bernard Émond, the course was first subject to a public consultation rigorous. This had been undertaken in 2020 by the government in order to revise the course ofECR.

The consultation was then criticized by the opposition when it was announced. Both the Liberal Party and Québec solidaire had spoken of a process precipitate.

The course ofECR, set up in 2008, had itself been strongly criticized by several groups, which saw it in particular as a promotion of multiculturalism.

An online consultation was launched before the writing of the new course, and two more were also organized face-to-face, in Quebec City and Montreal, in addition to a virtual consultation with Indigenous communities.

The Ministry of Education also received 200 briefs on the subject.

The course will be gradually tested in primary and secondary classes from the start of the 2022 school year, but only on a voluntary basis. It will be extended to all schools in Quebec in 2023.

And for teachers who are worried about the overload of work that this could represent, the Minister wishes to assure them that training on the course will be offered to them, as well as adapted teaching material.

However, no additional teachers will be hired to implement the new course. Approximately $ 3 million per year over three years will be invested in the implementation of Culture and Quebec Citizenship.

A program with political aims?

The National Federation of Teachers of Quebec (FNEEQ-CSN) expresses serious concern after Minister Roberge’s announcement, the union said in a press release.

What must be prevented at all costs with this overhaul is the instrumentalization of education for political ends, one year before the provincial election., supported the vice-president of the FNEEQCSN, Léandre Lapointe.

The union is also of the opinion that the course embraces so wide that it will have to be given much more time in the schedule. Adequate training for teachers will therefore be crucial, he warned.

The philosopher and essayist Normand Baillargeon, he was more enthusiastic. I think there are great reasons to celebrate what has been announced today, he launched in an interview with ICI RDI.

According to Mr. Baillargeon, the interesting elements of the Ethics and Religious Culture course have been preserved for the most part, particularly in the ethics and critical thinking aspect. He also welcomed the fact that religions no longer have such a central place in the course, but are approached as an element of culture.

Noting also positive elements in the new course, Line Dubé, the interim president of the Quebec Association in Ethics and Religious Culture (AQEC), questioned the relevance of this new reform which, according to her, takes up a lot of the ‘Ancient. It probably did not deserve to deny a program that Quebeckers should be proud of, she argued, speaking of theECR.

Although he likes the idea of ​​teaching young people how our institutions work, Mr. Baillargeon nonetheless called for vigilance regarding the danger of intellectual indoctrination and the danger of political propaganda.

The program is being written up and a content validation process will be initiated with pedagogues. Full details will be known next spring.

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