Province Looking At New Ways To Teach Students About The Environment

    Roberta Bondar Appointed To Lead Review Of Environmental Education

    TORONTO, March 1 /CNW/ - Astronaut and scientist Dr. Roberta Bondar will
lead the first-ever review of how the environment and conservation are taught
in Ontario schools, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced today.
    "Community leaders, like Dr. Bondar, have valuable insights on the skills
and knowledge that students need in today's complex world," said Wynne during
a visit to Norseman Junior Middle School with Environment Minister Laurel
Broten. "This review will provide me with good advice on the best ways to
include the environment in the provincial curriculum."
    The McGuinty government has asked Bondar to chair a working group that
will review how the environment and conservation is being taught in elementary
and secondary schools. The working group will provide recommendations on ways
to better support the teaching of environmental education to a newly created
Curriculum Council.
    "The space view of Earth simplifies the complex world in which we live
and intrigues me to explore it close up," said Bondar. "This council gives us
a great opportunity to encourage teaching and learning about real
environmental issues that influence our lives."
    Bondar has served as chancellor of Trent University since 2003. She has
received the Order of Canada and became the first Canadian woman and the
world's first neurologist in space in 1992.
    "It is vital that our next generation of community leaders and global
citizens has a strong understanding of the environment, climate change, and
the importance of conservation," said Broten. "So I'm pleased that the council
is taking a fresh look at how our education system helps students learn about
and relate to the natural world around them."
    The independent Curriculum Council will consist of 11 community leaders
and education experts from across Ontario, including parents, teachers,
university or college representatives and employers. It will also:

    -   Advise the Minister of Education on curriculum issues that require
        broader public consultation and deliberation.
    -   Establish a working group of five to seven experts to conduct
        research and analysis for each issue as needed.

    Dr. Dennis Thiessen has agreed to serve as the council's chairperson for
its first two years. Thiessen is the chair of the Department of Curriculum,
Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the
University of Toronto.
    "I thank the minister for recognizing the valuable input that community
members and experts can make in reviewing Ontario's curriculum," said
Thiessen. "We will work together to improve the quality of education available
to Ontario students."
    Ontario's curriculum outlines the knowledge and skills that students are
expected to be able to demonstrate by the end of each course. This new
approach to curriculum review expands on the ministry's existing process that
includes academic research, comparisons to other provinces, and consultations
with the education sector and other stakeholders.

    Other recent improvements in Ontario's curriculum include:
    -   Creating a stronger link to employer and postsecondary needs in the
        new senior high school math curriculum. An extended review was
        conducted on senior math by a ministry task force that included a
        parent, a classroom math teacher, a high-tech employer, a student and
        leading math specialists.
    -   Strengthening the focus on business, economic, financial and digital
        literacy in the new business studies curriculum.
    -   Providing greater flexibility in graduation requirements through a
        revised guidance and career studies curriculum.
    -   Introducing 29 government-supported online courses that benefited
        more than 900 high school students last semester.

    "Ontario's curriculum must keep pace with our rapidly changing society,"
said Wynne. "As well as maintaining a strong focus on literacy and numeracy,
we need to provide students with relevant learning choices that allow them to
reach their full potential."

    Disponible en français



    The McGuinty government announced that Dr. Dennis Thiessen will chair
Ontario's new Curriculum Council, and that Dr. Roberta Bondar will lead the
council's first working group, which will examine environmental education in
the province's curriculum.

    Dr. Dennis Thiessen - Chair, Curriculum Council

    Dr. Thiessen is a professor and the chair of the Department of
Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Toronto's Ontario
Institute for Studies in Education.
    His research includes teacher development, school improvement and
educational change. Many of his studies focus on the experience and
perspectives of teachers and students.
    He is also the editor-in-chief of Curriculum Inquiry, a leading
international academic journal dedicated to the study of educational research,
development, evaluation, and theory. In addition, he is a regional editor of
both the Journal of Education Policy and the International Journal of
Qualitative Studies in Education.
    Dr. Thiessen completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University
of Sussex in England. He is a former elementary and secondary school teacher
in Southwestern Ontario.

    Dr. Roberta Bondar - Chair, Working Group on Environmental Education

    A medical doctor and the world's first neurologist in space, she is
globally recognized for her pioneering contribution in space medicine.
    Strongly influenced by the writings of early environmentalist Rachel
Carson and the study of biology in the high school curriculum, Dr. Bondar
pursued biology and environmental science at university. She graduated with a
Doctor of Philosophy degree focused on neurobiology from the University of
    She has been recognized with the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario,
the NASA Space Medal, inducted into Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and into the
International Women's Forum Hall of Fame. In addition, she has received 24
honorary doctorates from Canadian and American universities and was named
among North America's best explorers by TIME magazine in 2003.
    Dr. Bondar is also an acclaimed nature photographer with four
best-selling photo-essay books featuring her stunning photography of the
    She is currently serving her second term as Chancellor of Trent

    Disponible en français


For further information:

For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister's Office, (416)
212-3747; Patricia MacNeil, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2676; Public
Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892

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