Letter to the editor

Curriculum 21 – no freedom of method and no more classroom teaching!

With the Curriculum 21 there is, contrary to the assertions in the media, no more freedom of method and no more proven teaching by the teacher. It is significant that the expression “freedom of method” still exists in the “foundations of the Curriculum 21” of the D-EDK [Swiss German Education Directors’ Conference] in 2010, though it was omitted in the 2016 revised footing for the cantons. Quote: “With the competence orientation there is an altered perspective on teaching. Learning is more understood as an active, self-directed, reflexive, situational and constructive process.” (www.lehrplan.ch/sites/default/files/Grundlagenbericht.pdf) With the “modified perspective on teaching” of the competence orientation there is, instead of freedom of method and instruction by the teacher, only “diversity of methods” and “learning support” by “facilitators/learning coaches” for the “self-directed, individualised learning”.
The method of freedom for the individual teacher is only possible with the experienced teaching in classes of age groups. With the “new learning methods” of the Curriculum 21 (“self-directed learning,” “individualised learning”, “age-mixed learning, AdL” etc.) the entire schoolhouse structure is changing. The free teaching method for the individual teacher becomes a prescriptive “learning” method for the entire team of teachers. It is arbitrarily determined by the school board and the school principal – past municipality meetings and parents – and is valid for the entire school building or the school community. Today, this is already a fact with the Curriculum 21 experimental schools. The teachers’ choice is to either participate or to change the place of work. Should the Curriculum 21 be introduced across the whole country, parents cannot change to a commune with the proven classroom teaching. Then they may choose to change only if they can afford a private school. This is the reason why in several municipalities in the Zurich lowlands as well as at the Lake Zurich it has come to parental protests and massive teacher layoffs for several years.
The Zurich municipality Obfelden was an exception. From 2006 on the parents could select whether they wanted to put their children in primary school in classes of age groups or in the controversial new AdL classes. Parents have specially moved to Obfelden because there was this choice. In 2014 the Obfelden primary school board suddenly decided to eliminate the mainstream classes and against the wish of many parents and teachers to completely switch to mixed-age classes. Apparently, the parents’ experience with AdL classes were as negative as they have increasingly opted for the proven age group classes.
It negatively affects the opportunities of the students with the Curriculum 21 who are isolated and are quasi individually served by a learning coach. “It especially  effects the weak students, the strong get stronger, the weak get even weaker. A gap is widening.“ (Ralph Fehlmann, teacher of subject didactics at the University of Zurich, Beobachter 4/2015). The successful Swiss education system shall not be buried secretly past the people!

Peter Aebersold, Zurich