The Alberta government has introduced a new social studies curriculum for Grades 1 through 6 that puts an emphasis on ancient and medieval civilizations and the history of religions. Here is a preview of a Grade 2 class in the not-too-distant future.

Maurice Tougas

“OK, class, settle down, settle down. Today, we’re going to continue our studies from ancient Greece, ancient Rome and other ancient civilizations.”

“Teacher, teacher! Isn’t Greece something that’s left in the pan when you make bacon?”

“No, I’m talking about Greece, the country, Jack.”

“Teacher, teacher! What’s a country?”

“Seriously, Abdul? We talked about this in our discussion of New France.”

“Teacher, teacher! Why is old France called New France? Shouldn’t New France be called Old France?”


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“It’s best not to think about it, Liam. Now, who can put the history of time in the correct chronological order. Remember, we did this yesterday. Anybody? … Before Christ is BC, anno domino is AD, and before common era is …”

“Poo-poo!”

“Logan, I’ve warned you about this. No more poopy talk.”

“Teacher, teacher. Can we read that Dr. Seuss book again?”

“Not today, Olivia. Especially that book. Now, children, who can tell me the differences between Greco-Roman, Chinese and African ruins and monuments, such as the Acropolis, the Pantheon and the Roman Colosseum?”

“Teacher, teacher! I went to a hockey game at the coliseum once!”

“I’m sure you did, Harper. But not that colosseum. Anyone else?”

“Teacher, teacher! Can we go on a field trip to see these ruins?”

“Maybe in 20 years, Sophia. Right now, we just have to learn pointless facts about things that have no relevance to your lives and that you’ll never remember.”

“Teacher! Teacher! Logan pulled my hair.”

“Logan, stop that. And Sophia, stop being such a whiny b— … sorry, sorry. Teacher is just a little stressed today. OK, here’s an easy question. We talked about this yesterday. Which culture allowed more freedom, Athens or Sparta? Which one put more emphasis on order and discipline?”

“Teacher, teacher! We should call Sparta ‘farta’!”

“Oliver, what have I told you about fart jokes? That kind of language wouldn’t be tolerated in Athens, would it?”

“Teacher, teacher! What’s A-fens?”

“Good grief, Olivia M. It’s A-thens, not A-fens. Athens was the largest and most influential of the Greek city-states. The Athenians invented democracy, a new type of government where every citizen could vote on important issues, such as whether to declare war. You should know this, Olivia. You’re in Grade 2 now. This is basic stuff.”

“Teacher, teacher! Logan just peed his pants!”

“You’ll have to be more specific, Sophia. Which Logan? Was it Logan L., Logan W. or Logan T.?”

“Teacher, teacher! Can we do some colouring?”

“Not until someone can tell me who Charlemagne was. Anyone? We did this yesterday … Holy Roman Emperor? 800 CE? Anyone?”

“Teacher, teacher! I know! Charlemagne was that little boy who won a trip to the chocolate factory … Charlemagne and the Chocolate Factory!”

“Teacher, teacher! Can we watch Charlemagne and the Chocolate Factory?”

“No you may not. We have a lot to cover … Alfred the Great and English traditions, the Norman Conquest, the Origins of Common Law. These are things every Grade 2 child should know, or so the government says.”

“Teacher, teacher! Can we listen to music? I’m tired.”

“Not today, Mohammed. But when you get to Grade 6, you can listen to Mart Kenney and his big band song, When I Get Back to Calgary.”

“Teacher, teacher! Isn’t Kenney our premier?”

“Yes he is, Olivia L-B. But this Kenney was the premier’s grandfather. Just a coincidence, I guess (cough, cough). Anyway, it’s almost recess. This afternoon, we’re going to be talking about religion.”

Teacher, teacher! I love Jesus!”

Teacher, teacher! Muhammad was way better than Jesus!”

“Teacher, teacher! My dad says religion is baloney!”

“Teacher, teacher! Are we going to learn about my Hindu god Brahma?”

“There’s the bell, students! Have a great recess, but please … no religion talk, OK. Teacher will be in the lounge, enjoying some … ‘refreshments.’ I may or may not be back.”

Maurice Tougas is a retired Alberta editor and journalist, formerly with the Red Deer Advocate, the Edmonton Examiner, Edmonton and Calgary Prime Times and many others. He was twice named best columnist in Canada by the Canadian Community Newspaper Association and was a finalist for the Golden Quill award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. He served one term as a Liberal MLA in the Alberta Legislature. For interview requests, click here.


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