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Guiding principles for developing common learning outcome frameworks for the western and northern Canadian provinces

Denis Milot
Government of Saskatchewan


Today's new realities have a significant impact on our lifestyles and the way we work. Even within the sphere of education, the ways we live, learn, speak and act are greatly influenced by three major factors:

  • globalization, which has led to an increasingly knowledge-based economy;
  • new findings from the learning sciences that affect curriculum, teaching and assessment; and
  • the pervasiveness of networked digital technologies that open up new ways of thinking, working and living.

To reflect these new realities, the Western and Northern Canadian Protocol (WNCP) directors have drafted guiding principles.

Saskatchewan spearheaded the project and wishes to thank its partners: Manitoba, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. Five principles were adopted to guide the development of common frameworks for curriculum redesign in each province and territory.

Principle One: Depth and coherence are essential to deep understanding

For French first-language education, this involves the following factors:

  • favouring communicative action in which students co-construct and negotiate their language skills in order to develop ways of thinking, understanding, speaking and living in French;
  • developing a complete set of language skills in students so they can achieve a high level of proficiency in their language. This enables them to live and communicate in French, since they will command a greater range of language functions (i.e., development of linguistic, discursive, strategic and sociolinguistic skills); and
  • developing a positive relationship to language in all its complexity by reflecting critically on language and using it creatively in the context of living and learning.

Principle Two: Diversity is a fundamental feature of a healthy, living system

For French first-language education, this involves the following factors:

  • recognizing that the French-speaking community is evolving and changing. The social fabric is richer and more diverse because of social factors such as exogamy, increasing population mobility and more frequent contact thanks to information and communications technologies;
  • demonstrating the role the community can play in enhancing the vitality, richness and plurality of language in the areas of culture and work; and
  • recognizing that the vitality and continued existence of the Francophone community's language and culture depend not only on the habits of day-to-day living, but also on each student's awareness, commitment and sense of responsibility (Paiement, 2007).

Principle Three: Every discipline constitutes a cultural heritage

For French first-language education, this involves the following factors:

  • demonstrating that each discipline has a distinct linguistic, social and cultural background;
  • valuing the cultural and linguistic heritage of students and their role in the dynamic evolution of the discipline, as well as their connection with constructing and negotiating language, identity and culture;
  • recognizing the valuable contribution of Francophones from western and northern Canada; and
  • taking advantage of the numerous opportunities for sharing and dissemination between Francophone communities from near and far, through information and communications technologies.

Principle Four: Competencies bridge learning situations

For French first-language education, this involves the following factors:

  • experimenting, in French-language living and learning contexts, with communication skills, social skills, practical skills and community-building skills that constitute areas of knowledge held, passed on, used and created in reality;
  • allowing students to question how the skills acquired in one discipline are integrated into their lives and mesh with the skills of other disciplines;
  • developing everyday life skills in French to increase students' feelings of competence;
  • recognizing that we [Translation] "need to propose learning situations that implement all the [expanded] functions of language" (Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, 2008, p. 11); and
  • recognizing that [Translation] "we do not use language from the simple to the complex, but rather from the complex to the more complex... Planning must be guided by a holistic, global and complex model rather than by a linear, deductive and fragmented one" (Cazabon, 2005, p. 25).

Principle Five: Learning and living well together in an interconnected world lead to sustainable development

For French first-language education, this involves the following factors:

  • giving students a way to participate in community vitality: [Translation] "students should be encouraged to think about how their actions help create different possibilities for the future of their society and for the place of Francophone communities and individuals in this society. This learning requires a critical assessment of the past, of the present and of visions for the future" (Dalley and d'Entremont, 2004, p. 13);
  • encouraging and valuing the contribution of students as Francophone citizens whose skills will allow them to innovate and introduce initiatives to advance society's well-being. [Translation] "To develop a positive perception of the value of the French language and of Francophone communities, students must have opportunities to construct a vision of the world that emphasizes the possibility of acting in and on their society as Francophones." (Dalley and d'Entremont, 2004, p. 69); and
  • establishing potential links between the students' construction and negotiation of their language, identity and culture and their responsibilities as citizens.

For French first-language education, these guiding principles entail the development of students' sense of belonging to a community and an emphasis on the value of language as a vehicle for student growth in the areas of language, identity and culture. Hence the importance of practising this discipline as part of a cultural heritage that deserves to be known, celebrated, perpetuated and, most importantly, enriched. We also recognize the heterogeneous nature of these skills and the importance of creating connections regardless of ethnic, cultural, linguistic or geographical differences.

From the Cadre commun des résultats d'apprentissage en français langue première (M-12), Protocole de collaboration de l'Ouest et du Nord canadiens (PONC), forthcoming.


CAZABON, B. 2005. Pour un enseignement réussi du français langue maternelle: fondements et pratiques en didactique du français. Sudbury, Ontario: Éditions Prise de parole.

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF EDUCATION, CANADA. 2008. État des lieux en communication orale. Projet pancanadien de français langue première. Montréal: Les Éditions de la Chenelière.

DALLEY, P., and Y. d'Entremont. 2004. Identité et appartenance en milieu scolaire: Guide à l'intention des concepteurs de programmes. Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training.

PAIEMENT, L. 2007. Pédagogie culturelle, stage de formation en leadership culturel, une pédagogie culturelle au service de la construction identitaire. Manuel du ou de la stagiaire. Ottawa.

WESTERN AND NORTHERN CANADIAN PROTOCOL. 2011. Guiding Principles for WNCP Curriculum Framework Projects.