“Goethe or Google: Who explains the world to us?”

mw. “Eine Kultur schafft sich ab” (A culture abolishes itself) is the not exactly edifying title chosen by linguist and literary scholar Mario Andreotti for his collection of newspaper columns in the Swiss newspaper “St. Galler Tagblatt”. Unfortunately, one has to add, this title fits. And yet, it is always a pleasure and even a gleam of hope for the newspaper readers, to come across one of the concise criticisms of our educational system. Thus tens of thousands of readers can learn what is going wrong in our schools respectively what a disastrous development has been initiated by the EDK [Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education] and the PHs [teacher training colleges]. However, the author does not leave it at that, but also points out where corrections are necessary and possible. Startling questions like: “Is our language atrophying on the internet?” are well answered: “Early German is more essential than early English.”1 The article “Why today history is more important than ever” on the fatal decline of history as a school subject is published some time later.
Mario Andreotti calls a spade a spade, for example under the titles “Sold education: school in the maelstrom of the market”, “Talent promotion: companies force their way into schools” and he warns: “Education involves more than conditioning for career”.
The departure from the teachers’ methodological and teaching freedom is a special thorn in the author’s flesh as it is for many of us who critically watch the disquieting school reforms: “Is school degenerating into digital dictatorship?”, “How schools are being smoothly steered”. Not always smoothly, it has to be said, for the final text of the book is about teachers running away from schools.
The columns are particularily valuable when looking ahead: “What children really need“, “Let them [the teachers] teach again!” or the reclaiming of classical education instead of the bustling activity of isolated children at their tablets: “Goethe or Google: Who explains the world to us?”
We wish Mario Andreotti, whom we also got to know and appreciate as an excellent pedagogue at events of the “Starke Volksschule Zürich” and the “Starke Volksschule St. Gallen”2 many interested and dedicated readers for his appealing and varied synopsis of the current educational landscape.    •
Andreotti, Mario. Eine Kultur schafft sich ab. Bei­träge zu Bildung und Sprache. Verlag FormatOst 2019, ISBN 978-3-03895-013-4

1    This is referring to the introduction of English as the first foreign language in the primary school at a very young age.
2    Associations of teachers, parents and citizens fighting for a good and sound public school education.

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