How might we make Albertan off-reserve schools more safe and enriching for Indigenous youth?

Elle Griffin & Mickayla Rutkowski

Life in Canada is not what you might think for typical teenage Indigenous youth. The challenges they face are, statistically, significantly greater than those which non-Indigenous kids face. Being a teenager itself presents many challenges; when you throw things like friendship dynamics, middle school, authority figures and formal education into the mix, it paints an overwhelming picture.

There are not many studies that analyze the safety, security and enjoyment Indigenous youth have in schools where their traditional languages, cultures and learning styles are not integrated. In a complex system, riddled with generational trauma, teachers are an important leverage point for change.

How might we develop an education system that places emphasis on value, deep learning and critical thinking for understanding?

Elise Martinoski & Shifa Nakvi

The current Albertan education system identifies a student’s value and knowledge, by the grade they are given. Because of this, students can go through the system and obtain really good grades, yet leave the system with minimal understanding of what they were taught.

The current curriculum, focused on rote learning, results in students becoming ‘memorizing robots’ who are unable to think for themselves and create value from the information they are given. Alberta is lacking a curriculum that focuses on personal student growth and helping students to see beyond the four walls of a classroom. 

How might we educate young adults on the importance and application of soft skill development in order to adapt to future work environments?

Erica Loh & Eman Elkadri

Two types of skill sets exist in the employment landscape, hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are technical skills, which are the main focus of the education system today. Soft skills are communication and interpersonal skills that are not awarded the same focus. This has been an acceptable education process since the beginning of standardized education; however, work environments are changing. 

Today, there is a need for education that blends both hard and soft skill development to help prepare students for adaptability in the constantly changing employment landscape. Responding to this need within the education of young adults in Alberta involves a restructuring of the system in which they are taught. The importance of soft skill development must be a recognized and integrated practice to keep ahead of the technology that is shaping new work environments today.