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The hidden privatisation in public education

  • by Renate Caesar
  • For quite some years now people in European countries have been reacting against the waves of so-called educational reforms that are flooding them ever more vehemently. Those changes come up camouflaged as school-reforms, often introduced with the slogan “keeping up with the times”.

They do not aim at a necessary renovation of certain elements of our schools, which might require improving; instead they interfere deeply with the respective countries’ educational system by turning educational goals, structures, curricula, etc. upside down. Examples of such processes are the Curriculum 21 in Switzerland or the Curriculum Reform 2015 in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Mounting resistance comes not only from teachers and parents but is increasingly pronounced by education experts, historians, linguistic and literary scholars and also politicians. They all agree in the criticism that the intended alterations  – many of them have unfortunately been already realized under radar in the past years  – do not make any sense, neither with respect to didactics, pedagogic nor to science.

How can we improve language learning, for instance, if the so-called communicative competence  – one of the reformers’ mantra  – is to be achieved by working off hundreds of singular sub-competences, which are to be tested by ticking multiple choice boxes in the end, as designed in Curriculum 21. (cf “Learning to the test” by Marianne Wüthrich in this Current Concerns edition, p. 10). Learning a foreign language is an organic whole: The student together with a polyglot counterpart must for instance listen to a question, seize the meaning, understand the context, search for suitable words and structures to answer, etc..

Or how can a student grow up to be a mature citizen if he is no longer taught history in a systematic, comprehensive and structured manner, instead he is e.g. to “understand and judge” “power relations” by being presented some isolated examples from the Antiquity or the Middle Ages or Napoleon without any basic knowledge, as conceived in Curriculum 21, Switzerland.

In short: None of the critics perceives an improvement of school learning by teaching fragments and cutting up context of meaning into hundreds and thousands of broken bits of competences and sub competences. If they do not serve the improvement of learning what then is the end of such “reforms”?

Schweiz, Politik, USA, Wirtschaft, Europa, Politik & Wirtschaft, Erziehung, Deutschland, Ethik & Philosophie, Bildung, Bildungsreform, Studium


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