The Discursive Interplay of Gender and White Logic in Alberta’s K-6 Draft Curriculum
Keywords:Alberta, Canada, Curriculum, Masculinity, Policies as Gendering, Whiteness, WPR
This paper presents a discursive analysis of the gendering of Alberta’s K-6 Social Studies draft curriculum. It examines if and to what extent the social studies curriculum promotes a gender-less portrayal of history buttressed by a façade of diversity and inclusion. In borrowing from Carol Bacchi’s theories of “what’s the problem represented to be” (WPR) and policies as gendering, it focuses on the discursive positioning of gendered norms and knowledge structures within the curriculum to unearth how the curriculum cultivates traditional masculinist and settler-colonial forms of historical truth while silencing those who contradict these narratives (1999; 2017). Through paying attention to the inclusion of binary gendered representation, their contextual underpinnings, and where gendered absences are positioned, the paper uncovers how the curriculum promotes a return to historical narratives predicated on patriarchal and white thought that pose dire implications for student’s conceptualization(s) of their and their province’s identities.
Abu-Laban, Y. and Nath, N. 2020. “Citizenship, Multiculturalism, and Immigration: Mapping the Complexities of Inclusion and Exclusion Through Intersectionality.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Gender, Sexuality, and Canadian Politics edited by Manon Tremblay and Joanna Everitt, 507-527. Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
Alberta Education. 2021. 2021 Draft K-6 Curriculum, https://curriculum.learnalberta.ca/curriculum/en/c/sss1.
Alberta Education. 2005. Social Studies K-6, http://education.alberta.ca/social-studies-k-6/programs-of-study/.
Apple, Michael W. 1988. Teachers & Texts: A Political Economy of Class & Gender Relations in Education. New York: Routledge.
Bacchi, Carol. 1999 Women, Policy and Politics. The Construction of Policy Problems. London: Sage.
Bacchi, Carol. 2009. Analysing Policy: What’s the Problem Represented to be? Frenchs Forest: Pearson Australia.
Bacchi, Carol. 2012. “Introducing the ‘What’s the Problem Represented to be?’ Approach.” In Engaging with Carol Bacchi: Strategic Interventions and Exchanges, edited by Chris Beasley and Angelique Bletsas, 21-24. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press.
Bacchi, Carol. 2017. “Policies as Gendering Practices: Re-Viewing Categorial Distinctions.” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 38(1): 20-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/1554477X.2016.1198207.
Bakali, Naved. 2025. “Contextualising the Quebec Charter of Values: how the Muslim ‘Other’ is conceptualised in Quebec.” Culture and Religion 16, no. 4: 412-429. https://doi.org/10.1080/14755610.2015.1090468.
Bennet, Dean. 2016. “Alberta announces sweeping 6-year overhaul of school curricula at accost of $64M.” Global News, 15 June 2016. https://globalnews.ca/news/2764146/alberta-announces-sweeping-6-year-overhaul-of-school-curricula-at-cost-of-64m/.
Bennett, Dean. 2019. “United Conservative leader Kenney pledges education revamp if elected in Alberta.” Global News, 17 February 2019. https://globalnews.ca/news/4970077/united-conservative-party-education-jason-kenney-alberta/.
Bourke, Theresa, Reece Mills, and Erin Siostrom. 2020. “Origins of Primary Specialisation in Australian Education Policy: What’s the Problem Represented to be?” The Australian Educational Researcher, 47(5): 725-740. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-019-00370-y.
Brown, Douglas, and Jennifer Kelly. 2001. “Curriculum and the Classroom: Private and Public Spaces.” British Journal of Sociology of Education, 22(4): 501-518. https://doi.org/10.1080/01425690120094458.
Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.
Champion, C.P. 2020. “Alberta’s Little History War.” Dorchester Review, 28 August 2020. https://www.dorchesterreview.ca/blogs/news/alberta-s-little-history-war?_pos=6&_sid=f8c5c3038&_ss=r.
Connell, R.W. 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity.
Dhamoon, Rita Kaur. 2011 “Considerations on Mainstreaming Intersectionality.” Political Research Quarterly 64(1): 230-43. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912910379227.
The Dorchester Review. 2023 “Why ‘The Dorchester Review’?” https://www.dorchesterreview.ca/pages/frontpage.
Enloe, Cynthia. 2004. The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Foucault, Michel. 1994. Power. New York: The New York Press.
French, Janet. 2021. “Alberta unveils new draft elementary school curriculum with focus on common cache of knowledge.” CBC, 29 May 2021. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-unveils-new-draft-elementary-school-curriculum-with-focus-on-common-cache-of-knowledge-1.5968354.
Giroux, Henry A. 2004. “Cultural studies, public pedagogy, and the responsibility of intellectuals.” Communication and critical/cultural studies 1(1): 59-79. https://doi.org/10.1080/1479142042000180926.
Godlewska, Anne, John Rose, Laura Schaefli, Sheila Freake, and Jennifer Massey. 2017. “First Nations, Métis and Inuit presence in the Newfoundland and Labrador curriculum.” Race Ethnicity and Education 20(4): 446-462. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2016.1248825.
Goodwin, Susan. 2012. “Women, Policy and Politics: Recasting Policy Studies.” In Engaging with Carol Bacchi: Strategic Interventions and Exchanges, edited by Angelique Bletsas and Chris Beasley, 25-36. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press.
Hooper, Charlotte. 2001. Manly states: Masculinities, international relations, and gender politics. New York: Columbia University Press.
Howarth, David. 2010. “Power, discourse, and policy: articulating a hegemony approach to critical policy studies.” Critical policy studies 3(3-4): 309-335. https://doi.org/10.1080/19460171003619725.
Kennelly, Jacqueline, and Kristina R. Llewellyn. 2011. “Educating for active compliance: Discursive constructions in citizenship education.” Citizenship Studies 15(6-7): 897-914. https://doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2011.600103.
Kostas, Marios. 2021 “Discursive construction of hegemonic masculinity and emphasised femininity in the textbooks of primary education: children’s discursive agency and polysemy of the narratives.” Gender and Education 33(1): 50-67. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540253.2019.1632807.
Lazar, Michelle M. 2007. “Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis: Articulating a Feminist Discourse Praxis.” Critical Discourse Studies 4(2): 141-164. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405900701464816.
Mertanen, Katariina, Kalle Mäkelä, and Kristiina Brunila. 2022. “What’s the problem (represented to be) in Finnish youth policies and youth support systems?” International studies in sociology of education 31(3): 264-283. https://doi.org/10.1080/09620214.2020.1752770.
Miles, James. 2021. “Curriculum Reform in a Culture of Redress: How Social and Political Pressures are Shaping Social Studies Curriculum in Canada.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 53(1): 47-64. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2020.1822920.
Moon, Dreama G., and Michelle A. Holling. 2020. “White Supremacy in Heels”: (White) Feminism, White Supremacy, and Discursive Violence.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 17(2): 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/14791420.2020.1770819.
Norris, Pippa. 2016. “It’s Not Just Trump. Authoritarian Populism Is Rising Across the West. Here’s Why.” Washington Post, 11 May 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/11/its-not-just-trump-authoritarian-populism-is-rising-across-the-west-heres-why/.
Pashby, Karen, Leigh-Anne Ingram, and Reva Joshee. 2014. “Discovering, Recovering and Covering-up Canada: Tracing Historical Citizenship Discourses in K-12 and Adult Immigration Citizenship Education.” Canadian Journal of Education 37(2): 1-26.
Patrick, Magie. 2021. “Religion, Social Studies, and the Draft Curriculum.” Alberta Curriculum Review, 20 April 2020. https://alberta-curriculum-analysis.ca/religion-social-studies-and-the-draft-curriculum/.
Peck, Carla. 2021. “Analysis of the Draft Alberta K-6 Social Studies Curriculum (Part 1).” Alberta Curriculum Analysis, 15 April 2021. https://alberta-curriculum-analysis.ca/analysis-of-the-draft-alberta-k-6-social-studies-curriculum-part-1/.
Podeh Elieh and Alayan, Samira. (2018) Multiple Alterities, New York: Springer.
Pratt, Yvonne Poitras. 2021. “Promises Made, Promises Broken – How the Draft K-6 Curriculum Recolonizes the Métis in Alberta.” Alberta Curriculum Analysis, 27 April 2021. https://alberta-curriculum-analysis.ca/promises-made-promises-broken-how-the-draft-k-6-curriculum-recolonizes-the-metis-in-alberta-2/.
Roach, Pamela. 2021. “The Potential Health and Social Effects of Alberta’s Draft K-6 Curriculum.” Alberta Curriculum Analysis, 27 April 2021. https://alberta-curriculum-analysis.ca/the-potential-health-and-social-effects-of-albertas-draft-k-6-curriculum/.
Saleh, Muna. 2021. “Narrating Dangerous Single Stories: An Analysis of Alberta’s Draft K-6 Social Studies Curriculum.” Alberta Curriculum Analysis, 12 May 2021. https://alberta-curriculum-analysis.ca/narrating-dangerous-single-stories-an-analysis-of-albertas-draft-k-6-social-studies-curriculum/.
Sant, Edda. 2017. “Can the Subaltern Nation Speak by Herself in the History Curriculum?” Educational Studies 53(2): 105-121. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131946.2016.1238376.
Scott, David. 2021. “A Mediation on Current and Future Trajectories for Elementary Social Studies in Alberta.” One World in Dialogue 6(1): 4-15. https://ssc.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/OneWorldInDialogue/2021%20V6N1/A%20Meditation%20on%20Current%20and%20Future%20Trajectories.pdf.
Stanley, Timothy. 1998. “The Struggle for History: Historical Narratives and Anti-Racist Pedagogy.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 19(1): 41-52. https://doi.org/10.1080/0159630980190103.
Teff-Seker, Yael. 2020 “Peace and conflict in Israeli state-approved textbooks: 2000-2018.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 52, no. 4 (2020): 533-550, https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2020.1716392.
Thobani, Sunera. 2007. Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada, Toronto: University of Toronto.
Wesley, Jared, and Sylvia Wong. 2022. “Beyond Fragments: The Canadian State and the Origins of Alberta Political Culture.” International Journal of Canadian Studies 60 (2022): 60-87, https://doi.org/10.3138/ijcs.60.x.60.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science by https://politikon.iapss.org/index.php/politikon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.