Letters to the editor

No Curriculum 21 of arbitrariness

You might recall: the country-wide harmonisation of the beginning of the school year was decided years ago, mainly to enable families and, in particular, the children concerned to connect more easily to school while changing cantons. A number of adjustments have been made to the cantonal curricula for this purpose, with the result that the respective annual programmes and specific learning objectives have continued to converge – for example Canton of Zurich: In mathematics, the three-year objectives were transformed into annual objectives in terms of subject matter. Through these harmonisation measures, the many structural differences and hurdles around the school across all cantonal boundaries could be significantly reduced without violating the cantonal educational sovereignity.
Today there is much talk of harmonisation in connection with the planned introduction of the new Curriculum 21. I am only wondering which harmonisation is meant. In any case, it cannot be about further cross-cantonal facilitation in everyday school life: there are no concrete learning objectives in terms of subject matter whatsoever, but there are many hundreds of competences, often verbalised in a very spongy manner, in the form of “can do” descriptions. These are intended to register “competences” (not abilities or skills!). But what exactly is meant by “competences”, I have neither found nor got plausible explanations after extensive researches. Thus, their interpretation leaves a huge scope open. But whatsoever is meant by “competences”, it is now to be achieved in so-called four-year cycles, hardly any more structured and certainly no more per school year! Since for me as a teacher, the current Curriculum was and is binding by law, also the reference to the teaching aids cannot convince, which more and more evolve into material collection, proposals and range of topics, the selection and sequence of which are not mandatory for the teachers. In the face of today’s mobile work environment I am already now sorry for the many families who have to find again the connection to the school in a new canton!
No, the new Curriculum 21 is obviously not for the well-being of children and parents; revealingly it has by no means arisen from an everyday school life need at the grassroots – that is, parents, pupils and teachers – but is propagated primarily by politicians, so-called educational experts and educational administrators. Or, isn’t it on the alleged harmonisation and coercion top down, about something quite different, namely on making the Swiss school and education system in further steps even more compatible with the EU, in order to be able in future to sell it to the international market in the planned framework of the OECD as a privatised country-wide service enterprise? As such it has already thriven with the so-called liberalisation of the electricity market? The international agreements in this direction have already been prepared for the most dreadful. The Bologna reform on education at that time, which was introduced by former Federal Councillor Dreifuss, while ignoring the population, was only a beginning. In order to stop this disastrous development I can only recommend that a clear rejection of Curriculum 21 be expressed in the votings on Curriculum 21, impending in many cantons due to various national initiatives. Our future student generations will thank us! No Curriculum 21 of arbitrariness!

Kurt Scherrer, lic. phil. I, teacher

(Translation Current Concerns)

Radical school reforms 2006–2016

In 2006, the people accepted the education article under the slogan “harmonisation”, in the opinion that only the start of school and the educational goals would be matched. In the same year, a small project team of experts for “competence orientation” began with the elaboration of the essentials for Curriculum 21. In the same year, the commune of Uetikon am See began planning the “self-organised learning” so that the school could remain in the village. Is all this coincidence? Honi soit qui mal y pense! (May he be shamed who thinks badly of it!)
Of course, it was not clear at that time that “harmonisation” was one of three objectives of the economic organisation OECD to “open” the global education market, with the vision of replacing teachers by identical computer programs worldwide one day. With the Pisa shock, the OECD had already launched a global wave of reforms, replacing the traditional education systems with the OECD competence orientation, which, however, led to a downward spiral in the Pisa ranking (example: Finland, New Zealand, etc.) which was leading to even more reforms. Even today, hardly anyone knows that the OECD competence orientation (according to Weinert) with “self-organised learning” has been anchored in the essentials of Curriculum 21 as the only “up-to-date” method. This way, classroom teaching, freedom of methods, and teachers are replaced by self-organised, individual learning on the basis of computer programs.
Ten years later: In 2016, the Schweizerische Lehrerdachorganisation, LCH (Federation of Swiss teachers), with its guideline “external education financing”, paves the way for the global education corporations into the classrooms. In October 2016 ,the Federal Minister of Education Johanna Wanka announced the “Digitalpact#D”: 40,000 schools in Germany are to be equipped with computers and WLAN in the next five years. In “return for financial support”, concessions are being demanded that imply a massive interference into the teacher’s profession and the self-understanding of teaching. For example, teachers are to be trained for the application of digital media in the classroom. This abridges the focus towards digital media, instead of focusing on the use of “teaching-media” in a broader sense.  At the same time, digital technology has been made obligatory during lessons as a media technology (see analogy to Curriculum 21), which is a direct encroachment on the freedom of teaching and methods of teachers.
In 2016, teachers and classroom teaching have been abolished in Curriculum 21 “experimental”-schools, such as the Secondary School Ossingen. “Learning facilitators” and “learners” usually sit in front of computers and tablets. The isolated digital monologue has a particularly devastating effect on the language subjects. In the same year, Switzerland is collapsing everywhere at Pisa, and 20% of school leavers are hardly acceptable because they lack basic knowledge. Coincidence or bad omen?
Neoliberal economisation (privatisation) of education has progressed over the last decade: sales of the global education market are to be increased from 4.5 trillion in 2012 to 6.4 trillion US dollars in 2017.

Peter Aebersold, Zürich

(Translation Current Concerns)

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