The Health and Physical Education (HPE) Curriculum recently released by the Ministry of Education has garnered a significant amount of attention. Many voices are weighing in on the government’s review and revision of a curriculum that has not been updated since 1998. We all know that teaching is a shared responsibility between parents and other adults who support young people, and with technology moving so quickly in this day and age, it is important that students have access to up-to-date and appropriate information in order to ensure healthy human development.

While we have only had an early opportunity to review the revised curriculum, what’s important for our staff and community to remember is that we take our responsibility to help our students learn about, develop, and maintain healthy relationships very seriously. Important components of healthy relationships involve such things as knowing the proper names of body parts and understanding consent and boundaries when it comes to human interaction. The revised HPE curriculum strives to provide opportunities to help our young people learn those very things in ways that are both age-appropriate and respectful.

Sadly, and in spite of the best efforts of parents, advertising campaigns, very unfortunate media accounts, and our best intentions, we continue to receive reports of inappropriate use of social media and the internet by young people. While we know most young people are responsible and socially conscious, it is important for us keep in mind that they are young people, and the level of sophistication of their communication tools far exceeds anything we, as generations who came before, would have had access to. Again, an important part of the HPE curriculum will be the teaching and reinforcement of healthy relationships. There have been far too many examples of young people engaging in what they believe is harmless social media interactions, such as “sexting,” only to find themselves way over their heads and unable to find a reasonable way out of a difficult situation.

Over the coming months, we will set our minds to providing professional learning opportunities for our staff, acquiring and developing age-appropriate classroom teaching and learning resources, and building the capacity of our staff to implement a well-rounded curriculum that is intended to support the healthy overall growth and development of our young people. Additionally, we will continue to seek ways to engage parents and community partners in the shared responsibility of helping our young people as they grow and navigate the ever-changing world in which we live.

Please visit the Ministry of Education website for further information and resources:

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/health.html

Larry Hope
Director of Education