School division says training, curriculum review coming after controversial sign

·2 min read
A May 25 sign at Outlook Elementary School in Saskatchewan was taken down after it upset a number of people in the agricultural industry.  (View From The Ranch Porch/Facebook - image credit)
A May 25 sign at Outlook Elementary School in Saskatchewan was taken down after it upset a number of people in the agricultural industry. (View From The Ranch Porch/Facebook - image credit)

A Saskatchewan school sign that sparked controversy is leading to more lessons for teachers and students.

"Farming affects oceans. Chemicals hurt habitats & species. They also decr [decrease] oxygen levels," the sign outside Outlook Elementary School said, before it was taken down.

The school in the town of Outlook, about 235 kilometres northwest of Regina, and the Sun West School Division, which covers the area have apologized for the sign's message on social media.

"We know damage has been done in the relationship between education and agriculture and our communities," Randy Emmerson, director of education for the Sun West School Division, said in an interview. "We will rebuild those relationships."

He said training will be given and that the division will make sure nothing like this happens again.

Emmerson said the message came out of a lesson about sustainability and making positive environmental choices. Due to the school's location in rural Saskatchewan, the teacher had students look into farming issues.

One of the groups in the class looked at "the impact of farming on the oceans and how mass farming can have some effect on habitats," Emmerson said.

At the end of the lesson, the students summarized their learning about mass farming and put it up on the sign.

The mistake was that the message was pared down "to the point where it lost the impact and the intention of what was being learned," he said.

Feedback

The sign sparked feedback and outraged from people around Outlook, across the province and the country, Emmerson said.

"It's important to teach our students how to think more than what to think," Emmerson said. In response, the division will review curriculums and make sure all teachers have a balanced approach in teaching.

Emmerson said they'll examine the following issues. "Are we using local resources? Is the information that we're presenting to our children ... presented in a fair and reasonable way, and is it up-to-date."

The meetings to begin looking at the training and curriculum review will start on Monday.

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