Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Radical school reforms 2006 – 2016

In 2006, grouped under the heading of “harmonisation”, Swiss people accepted the education article thinking that there would only be a harmonisation of the start of school education with educational objectives. That same year, a small project team of experts for “competence orientation” started working on the foundation of Curriculum 21. Simultaneously, the commune of Uetikon am See began planning “self-directed learning” in order for the school to be able to remain in the village. Mere coincidence?  Honi soit qui mal y pense! [May he be shamed who thinks badly of it]
Of course, back then, nobody knew that “harmonisation” was one of three goals of the economical organisation OECD in order to “open” the global education market while envisioning to one day replace teachers with the same computer programmes worldwide. At the time of the shocking PISA results, OECD had already initiated a worldwide wave of reforms that replaced traditional education systems with OECD’s “competence orientation” which in turn lead to a downward spiral (e.g. Finland, New Zealand etc.) within the PISA ranking that continues to spark new reforms. Even today, hardly anyone knows that OECD’s “competence orientation” (according to
Weinert) with its “self-directed learning” has been established in the foundations of “Curriculum 21” as the sole contemporary method. Classroom teaching, free choice of methods and teachers have been replaced by self-directed, individual learning with the help of computer programmes.
Ten years later: In 2016, the Swiss teachers umbrella organisation LCH paved the way into the classroom for global education companies with its guidebook on “external educational funding”. In October of the same year, German Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka announced “Digital pact #D”: 40,000 schools in Germany are supposed to be equipped with computers and WLAN within the next five years. In return for financial support, certain concessions are expected to be made that are a massive interference with the teacher’s occupational profile and self-conception of teaching. Teachers are to be educated on the use of digital media during lessons. However, the focus would be placed solely on digital media as opposed to dealing with all types of media in school. At the same time, the study of digital technology as a synonym for media technology is made compulsory (see analogy to Curriculum 21) which is a direct interference with the teacher’s free choice of teaching methods.
In 2016, Curriculum 21 “experimental” schools such as secondary school Ossingen have stopped using teachers and classic classroom teaching. Now, usually, “learners” and “learning guides” are sitting in front of computers and tablets. The isolated, digitalised monologue is particularly damaging for language learning. The same year sees Switzerland’s PISA ranking plummeting and 20% of school graduates cannot be brought into work because they lack basic skills. Coincidence or bad omen?
The neoliberal economisation (privatisation) of education has been advancing further over the course of the last ten years.  The global education market’s revenue is meant to be increased from 4.5 trillion US dollars in 2012 to 6.4 trillion US dollars in 2017.

Peter Aebersold, Zurich

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