Avoiding damage – stopping the Curriculum 21 project 

Avoiding damage – stopping the Curriculum 21 project

Three new publications indicate the Curriculum’s serious shortcomings

rt. Three new publications confirm the existing criticism of Curriculum 21 and additionally point to necessary orientations in education policy.
Citizens and taxpayers hear extremely little about the contents of Curriculum 21 from the public authorities (cantonal educational bureaucracies), and until now the teachers have not been instructed about the actual contents of the new curriculum either. Most of the criticism is confirmed by a look into the Curriculum itself (www.lehrplan21.ch). Listed on many sites (about 350) in intelligible “expert PH-German” you find all that children and young people should be able to do (2300 levels of competence and 363 skills). For interested parents as well as for teachers, it is impossible to gain a picture of when, how, and what should actually be learned. 
Curriculum 21 has already been analyzed and criticized several times by experienced teachers, educators and edu­cational scientists. They have for long been warning of the negative consequences for future generations associated with the introduction of this curriculum at Swiss schools. Even before its so-called consultation, criticism was so devastating that, in the fundamentals section core elements of the curriculum, such as its competence orientation, have been watered down, and in a nebulous text, called “diversity of methods” even the “Frontalunterricht” (whole class teaching) appeared again! And even then, criticism was so significant that this project should immediately have been stopped! But obviously, despite these well-known serious shortcomings and the resulting costs, one adheres to the “PLAN”.

Well-founded criticism of Curriculum 21

Now three new books demonstrate (once more), into which disaster Swiss schools are being maneuvered by the educational bureaucracies of most German cantons, headed by the EDK (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education):

  • The excellent brochure “Einspruch! Kritische Gedanken zu Bologna, Harmos und Lehrplan 21 (Objection! Critical thoughts on Bologna, Harmos and Curriculum 21”), issued by the pedagogues Alain Pichard and Beat Kissling, asembles opinions and analyzes on the current education policy.The work includes articles by Professor Walter Herzog, Professor Roland Reichenbach, Anita Fetz or Beat Kappeler and many others.
  • The publication “Was will uns der Lehrplan 21 sagen?” (What is Curriculum 21 trying to tell us?) by Aargau educational policy maker Bruno Nüsperli, offers the possibility of directly experiencing the appalling low level of Curriculum 21. Nüsperli has taken on the task of listing and to commenting the Curriculum’s hundreds of “competences”.

  • Currently the “Zehn Thesen über die Schule” (Ten theses on school) by Valais Director of Education Oskar Freysinger, published by the Valais Department for Education and Security gained some publicity. Contrary to the technocratic and bureaucratic language of Curriculum 21, ten keystones of humanistic education are presented in a simple and concise form as an important foundation of our school. It becomes absolutely clear that Curriculum 21 has scarcely anything to do with the tasks of the school.

In detail:


In the brochure “Einspruch” (objection) – that will soon be reissued in an enlarged edition – different voices from the rather left-wing or rather liberal camp are assembled, clearly and distinctly showing that Curriculum 21 is based on wrong assumptions and disregards the child. In addition to many practitioners also scientists point to the shortcomings of the curriculum. For instance, serious deficits from an educational point of view are presented in a concise and substantiated form by the educational scientist Prof. Walter Herzog. The context of increasing “commercialization” of education, in particular by the new curriculum, is indicated by Beat Kissling. A focal point of the curriculum’s criticism is its abandonment of the social concept of giving all children the chance of good education. Children from educationally disadvantaged strata of society are disadvantaged.

What it means to deprive individual school subjects as well as the teacher training of their subject-specific substance is demonstrated by the essays of Daniel Goepfert and Laura Saia among others. As a result the professional level is lowered. In other articles it is clearly shown that the teacher as a “coach” or “facili­tator” is no longer able to play his key role in the learning process. The brochure “Einspruch!” can be obtained at <link>arkadi@bluemail.ch.

“What is Curriculum 21 trying to tell us?”

The collection of levels of competence, which Bruno Nüsperli meticulously lists out of the curriculum, makes obvious how the level of education will be lowered due to Curriculum 21. The individual subjects and contents are simplified to the levels of competence, which then can be easily tested with the help of the provided test material (learning-to-the-test). The goal to educate our children and youth humanistically has been ignored by this curriculum. Nüsperli´s comments make clear that prejudices and ideologies are also incorporated. Nüsperli is a member of the Aargau Committee for a good school, which is against curriculum 21. The brochure “Was will uns der Lehrplan 21 sagen?” can be obtained from Bruno Nüsperli, Halden 52, 5000 Aarau, bruno@nuesper.li, phone 062 824 26 28 for a fee (single copy CHF 5.- incl. shipping).

“Ten theses on the school”

Oskar Freysinger, Director of Education of the Canton of Valais, an educator himself, knows what he is talking about. In his ten theses, he relies on more than 2,000 years of humanistic tradition of education, not just on 40 years of the US school examination industry. In simple terms, he describes the essential foundations of our school system. No later than at the tenth thesis “subsidiarity before centralization”, the interested reader will understand that curriculum 21 is not compatible with our tradition of humanistic education. The “Ten theses on the school” can be obtained from the Department of Education and Security of the Canton of Valais (www.vs.ch/documents/529400/1673481/10theses-D-BAT_2.pdf/19aae9df-def7-4efb-a1e5- 11ebc852061d).

“Curriculum 21 – a costly and counterproductive project”

It becomes clear after reading the three presented brochures: The Curriculum 21 is condemned to failure, both practically and politically. That the educational bureaucracies under the leadership of the EDKcontinue to insist on Curriculum 21, will immensely increase the damage and the cost. With this curriculum, the Swiss education system is unerringly lowered into a third class education. Thus, the country will deprive itself of its most important resource, namely a good training and education.
It is a logical consequence, that cantons like the Valais suspend the project cCrriculum 21. It is also useful that some cantons postpone the introduction. Anyway, one could have neatly evaluated the existing experiences from abroad or the ongoing projects of similar nature. Meanwhile, signature collections for initiatives to prevent the Curriculum 21 are running in 13 German-speaking cantons. Why not decide the introduction of the curriculum by a vote?     •

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