Kamloops parent speaks out after son's 'propaganda' assignment

By Chad Klassen
October 3, 2018 - 8:45am

KAMLOOPS — Matt DeFouw was shocked when his son, a Grade 10 student at Valleyview Secondary, brought home this social studies assignment on political ideologies. 

He says the assignment went too far, asking the students to decide if someone is 'right' or 'left' wing, based on particular beliefs.

"Essentially a piece of propaganda," noted DeFouw, who was texted by his son during class about the assignment. "It wasn't a very well thought out assignment if it's supposed to be an assignment."

DeFouw shared a photo of the assignment and it's been shared more than a thousand times since Monday evening. 

Some of the statements in the assignment included "A person who believes that convicted murders should be hung" and the given answer was 'right,' as in right wing. Another was "A person who believes in a higher minimum wage" and the answer was left. However, DeFouw says the most shocking aspect was the question that posed "A person who is a racist" and the required answer was 'right.' 

"That's what really got me. School should be a place for learning. It should be a place for the development of critical thought. It should be a place where we're learning about how to remove bias," said DeFouw. "Our whole society is built on inclusivity. It's built on diversity. That was the exact opposite of what I saw."

Assistant Superintendent of School District 73 Bill Hamblett, who oversees the secondary level, added that "racist views are held regardless of political stripe. In an attempt to oversimplify a topic, sometimes the nuance is lost." 

Hamblett says social studies assignments try to evoke meaningful discussion, but it admits this one took it too far. 

"In the Social Studies 10 cirriculum, it contains some big ideas, and one of those big ideas is how political ideologies and economic and geographic factors influence Canadian society," said Hamblett, a former social studies and history teacher. "So they are very large ideas, and sometimes in a classroom you have to go back and reteach a topic, so certainly this is one where that's going to be done."

DeFouw has been in touch with school district and met with Valleyview Secondary principal Barb Hamblett. 

"Great administrators. They seemed to share why I was concerned about the assignment, so we're working on a plan so we can make sure everyone moves forward beyond this point."

The DeFouw family hopes this can be a learning experience for everyone. They say this isn't the first assignment that has come as a concern with four boys in the school system. 

"I'd really like it if we would have education as education and the development of critical thinkers, instead of indoctrination," said DeFouw.

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