ev. The first edition of Objection! was dedicated primarily to presenting the background to the ongoing reforms in the education system. It allowed authors to express their views on the role of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Swiss Conference of Education Directors (EDK) and foundations such as Bertelsmann, as well as new paradigms such as competence orientation and others.
In the new Objection! 2 the word belongs first and foremost to those concerned: These are parents and teachers, but also experts from the fields of paediatrics, curative education, apprentice training or members of authorities. The descriptions give an insight into a development that is alarming for a democratic state: It is above all the consistent refusal to discuss and the way in which these changes are implemented, which is unbearable for Switzerland and in which experts, teachers and parents are in the mildest case simply ignored in their justified objections. All the more important, therefore, that some of them now have a voice. A look across the borders with further contributions from Great Britain and Germany shows that these “reforms“ are being pushed forward on a larger scale. For example, the letter to the editor from Germany to our newspaper (see below) shows exactly the same trend in dealing with parents who are serious and prudent about their children‘s welfare. The booklet makes it clear that, on the one hand, the processes in our schools turn an entire generation into objects of unreflected reforms - let us remember that a child only attends school once and that the experiences gained are decisive for his or her future life. But the contributions also make you think, because they make education policy visible as a lever for the dismantling of democracy. It would be desirable that Objection! 2 is widely distributed and the urgently needed discussion on the issues it raises is getting off the ground more generally.
The reading also encourages us in this respect: A variety of statements from very different perspectives and backgrounds of experience have come together here, which all show: People do not let their own reasoning be taken away from them - and they also gain experience with it, which strengthens them on this path.
In the following we reproduce the editorial of the editors.
When we first went public with “Objection” almost three years ago, we were overwhelmed by the interest. We had to reprint the brochure four times. A total of 12,000 copies were sold in Switzerland.
At the time, our aim was to counter the impression that the media everywhere had suggested that the criticism of the “school reforms” that had been going on for years and that had hardly ever been openly discussed was motivated solely by conservative right-wing motives. It was repeated like a mantra- like that these “reforms” corresponded to social change and were therefore undisputed. People who reject such “reforms” are fundamentally hostile to progress. That is why we asked numerous politically left- to left-liberal-thinking, well-known personalities from science, politics and those active in the school-pedagogical environment to present their critical point of view on the never-ending “reforms” and the way they are enforced; many were happy to do so. Our demand with “Objection” was: Pause, reflect together and examine whether this permanent reform euphoria has really brought progress or rather regression to the school. So we demanded a genuine public discourse.
In fact, people in Switzerland know that our schools have been very successful and have contributed significantly to our prosperity today. This is precisely why many people ask themselves who is actually putting this immense pressure on our educational institutions to keep up and notoriously maintain new radical change. It is astonishing that politics and education administration speak out almost unisono in favour of any “reform”, as if it were an existential inevitability. Experienced pedagogues wonder how it was possible for education to become a matter for experts only. It is obvious that school boards and district school councils, bodies that allow every citizen to get involved in public school, have been marginalised with the introduction of “professional” school management. The high “ethos of the school” that the OECD experts described in their first country examination in 1989 in their report has been radically questioned since this professionalisation. In the meantime, fewer and fewer parents understand what is really happening in the classrooms. A general feeling of unease is spreading; fathers, mothers and grandparents are increasingly having to work with their children on evenings and weekends. They experience that their children’s enthusiasm for learning and “going to school” increasingly fades after a short time. More and more parents are forced to offer their children private tutoring – mostly with great financial sacrifices – or to teach them at private schools. Pediatricians speak of “burnout” even among lower school students. Radio broadcasts discuss the question of whether public schools still enjoy the trust of parents or not. Such indications show that the “reforms” imposed on our children from the top down are in some cases a hard thing to do instead of serving their development.
In this new issue of “Objection” we want to let those “affected” have their say. They speak on behalf of many families who are also in need. Not everywhere unpleasant phenomena appear in the same way. This has to do above all with the fact that not all school administrations implement the prescribed “reforms” with the same solicitude in their teams. But most personal reports are similar. They show that a great deal in school and teaching today follows completely different didactic and content-related principles than just a few years ago. Due to the diminished insight into school, which today is reserved only for “experts”, many parents inevitably draw the conclusion that their children’s problems point to deficits in their upbringing or in their child’s personality.
The descriptions of parents as contemporary witnesses are supplemented in this brochure by statements from various critical experts from curative education and paediatrics. Representatives of the teaching staff and teacher associations, vocational training, educational science and teacher training also have their say. In this way, the processes can be differentiated and it is easier to judge what is really going wrong today.
One gloomy side of the school reforms are the methods used to try to have all those involved down the ideologically “right” path to toe the line. With partly very subtile, but clearly manipulative techniques, which are predominantly borrowed from business administration or management theory, an open discourse is deliberately prevented both in the institutions and in the public. Professional control mechanisms lead to a general climate of meek silence and withdrawing into the private sphere, so that everyone tries to cope with the situation himself. This precarious situation manifests itself, among other things, in the fact that many parents and teachers who have their say in this brochure are unable or unwilling to speak openly. Out of fear of repression, stigmatisation and disadvantages for children and family, they have mostly chosen anonymity – although very reluctantly. This circumstance alone should be an alarm signal for every democratically minded person in our country. •
Orders with: Alain Pichard, firstname.lastname@example.org or Yasemin Dinekli, email@example.com. CHF 7 per brochure plus shipping costs, as of 10 copies CHF 5/Ex. (7.- Euro per brochure plus shipping costs, as of 10 copies 5 Euro/Ex.) Available in German language
“This report about a long, but ultimately successful resistance against official arbitrariness and cover-up attempts should also encourage other parents not to simply give up their school.“
“One of the key experts now in these systems is the advisor. Every minister has advisors and it´s a particular career now, it´s a career route: ‘The political advisor’. They often come from think tanks, which are very much involved now in the reform process. Again, it´s a sort of a de-democratisation. These are small groups who have usually a very clear political position which they then feed into government through the work of advisors and through other networks, which again have no democratic oversight or accountability. So, it´s a massive change in the whole political structure and structure of government.”
“Public educational institutions in democracy do not have to adapt to a ‚change’ given by God or the market, but rather reflect critically on it and possibly resist it."
“’This is a conspiracy theory, Mr Pichard. There will be no comprehensive tests. There will only be individual samples to check what the learner’s level of education is.’”
(Education Director Eymann, Basel-Stadt in the ‘Basler Zeitung’ from 30 April 2015)
Facts check: comprehensive tests are carried out in northwestern Switzerland (BS, BL, AG).“
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