At present, in various cantons the most radical change of our school system since the existence of elementary school shall be implemented by the controversial Curriculum 21. Bad results achieved at Curriculum 21 experimental schools show that doubts expressed by teachers, by concerned parents, and by professors of pedagogy are justified: They have abolished the proven class teaching largely and have degraded the qualified teachers to “learning facilitators” by “competence orientation” and by their “self-guided” and “self-organised learning” (SOL). Students are left alone. It is up to them to decide when, how, where and if they want to learn. The hasty introduction of these “new forms of learning” that are not based on scientific evidence could become a competitive disadvantage for the pioneer cantons and their trade and crafts, as reform-pioneer Canton Basel-City once had to experience very painfully.
Basel-City introduced a series of so-called progressive school reforms by the 1988 School-Law and with that took the pioneering role in Switzerland. It was already five years later (“Basler Zeitung from 12.10.1993) when the first negative results showed up. A training manager at a big chemical company in Basel announced that among 45 apprenticeship contracts for laboratory chemists only one contract could be concluded with a school graduate of Basel-City. In 1995, at an extraordinary session of Basel Cantonal parliament, a General Director of UBS reported as to the problem of dwindling attraction of Basel as an industrial location (“Neue Zürcher Zeitung” from 3.4.2016) and spoke about the serious effects of school reforms in Basel. UBS was able to recruit but 20 per cent of their apprentices in Basel-City. As the results achieved in the aptitude test for medical degree courses showed, the A-level students had also fallen victims of the school reforms. Since the introduction of the aptitude test for medical degree courses (EMS) in 1998, the candidates coming from Basel-City received the Swiss-wide worst score or under average score.
Although the link with the controversial school reforms was evident, Canton Basel-City was allowed to pursue its course of reforms unimpeded. The orientation school that had been praised as “progressive” had scarcely been abolished entirely when Basel-City swung aboard the Curriculum 21 train. That caused teachers who were concerned to make the following remarks: “Once more we and the school children serve as guinea pigs to the Department of Education. The very introduction of orientation school as a unique specimen of Basel was a complete experience and a huge mistake. And now we are adapting our system to the rest of Switzerland even before the other cantons implement the innovation themselves.” (“Neuer Lehrplan ohne Bücher” [New Curriculum without books], “Basler Zeitung” from 27 October 2015) Yet trade, industry, and crafts are able to help also financially to put things on the right track. It is until September 2016 that the consultation about the Zurich Curriculum 21 will be running.
(Translation Current Concerns)
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