Curriculum 21: Time for a Rethink in Swiss Education

A group of children sitting in a circle with their hands reaching towards the centre, symbolising Swiss Curriculum 21 and the future of education in Switzerland.

Rethinking Swiss Education: Integrating Ethics, Sustainability, and Economy in Curriculum 21

To all parents, teachers, schools. To everyone.

Children are the future. It’s time to stop putting the past on a pedestal. While Curriculum 21 may be nice and all, its implementation leaves too much room to ignore important topics such as sustainability, ethics, the future, the environment, and morality. And that can harm us tremendously.

Children are visiting a mass animal farming operation in Baselland with their school. Thousands of chickens are crammed into the facility. The children are not allowed to see or approach the animals. It’s claimed that this is due to hygiene reasons. This is probably true because new germs, viruses, or other pathogens require medical treatment, i.e., antibiotics and hormones. So far so good.

Concentrated suffering, completely legal. School system trivialises factory farming.

Photo from a Swiss factory farm. Thousands of chickens squeezed tightly together, pure suffering, completely legal.
Pure misery: sentient beings in Switzerland. Factory farming like this, which stands in the way of sustainability, morality and health, is normalised, trivialised and played down. Instead of seizing the opportunity. For our children, health and the future.

It is important that our children learn that life has a value beyond that of a burger, cold cuts or chicken nuggets. Swiss teachers and the education system should take responsibility for addressing alternative farms and ethical aspects of animal handling. Why not visit ethical farms that treat animals in a respectful and animal-friendly way?

Innovation is dismissed

It is crucial for teachers to encourage students to examine the impact of mass animal farming on the environment, health, and animal welfare – if we care about the future! Such critical analysis helps students develop an understanding of the importance of addressing these issues and the need for change.

But why don’t schools use this real-life example I talked about above (the chicken hall of death) as a warning? Why is everything swept under the rug? Why isn’t there any innovative and forward-thinking? Why are moral principles not considered? Why is the past being taught instead of the future being promoted?

Old-fashioned animal farming and dietary models are competently encouraged, while everything related to sustainability, innovation, and ethics is dismissed. This must change, and quickly.

Factory farming in the Swiss education system: time for change

Curriculum 21 offers schools and teachers in Switzerland an excellent opportunity to impart knowledge to students about various aspects of life and the environment. But often the ethical dimension remains unconsidered when it comes to farms and factory farming. Visits to chicken fattening farms where thousands of animals suffer in a confined space should not be considered “normal” and accepted without comment. It is time that Swiss teachers wake up and sharpen their critical view on these issues. This example is real and not made up. The issues and questions or a conclusion that should follow such a visit to factory farming are missing. In this way, opportunities for the future are destroyed, unintentionally or not. Do we love our children? Do we want a future for them? If so, what should it look like?

Reality in Switzerland – the oh so animal loving country. Photo

A plea for a holistic curriculum 21

Curriculum 21 can and should be a springboard for holistic education that goes beyond farm attendance. School is the place where our children learn how to deal with the challenges of the future. By teaching them that animals are sentient beings and that we all have a responsibility for their living conditions, we lay the foundation for a better future. This is not even “just” about ethics and morals, but also about sustainability and the concerns of the present and the future. This is not a flower power issue that is superficially meant to bring harmony and love. This can also be a business model. Sooner or later, the Swiss business model has to evolve towards sustainability. That will happen. So why not start now, before it becomes even more difficult?

This article is meant to get people thinking and to start discussions. Swiss teachers, schools and the entire education system need to grow up and realise the need for ethical education. It is in our hands to teach children that they have the power to bring about change and that together we can create a better world for all.

Ethics and sustainability in the curriculum: A win-win situation for Switzerland

Ethics and sustainability are by no means exclusively “hippie topics” or mere adornment of our society with flowers. Rather, they represent important principles that, when properly integrated into our education system, benefit not only the environment and animals, but also the economy and the population as a whole.

The sustainable and ethical education system offers long-term benefits by making Switzerland sustainable and competitive. By teaching values such as respect for the environment and fellow creatures, conservation of resources and sustainable action, students are prepared to make responsible decisions in their later professional and private lives.

Sustainability also means economic competitiveness

Such an attitude can encourage innovative business models that integrate environmental and animal welfare aspects into their operations, thus contributing to the creation of new jobs and economic growth. Companies that focus on sustainability not only reap a good reputation, but are also better positioned in the long term to deal with the challenges of our time.

By leading by example, Switzerland can show other countries that ethics and sustainability can go hand in hand and lead to a successful, liveable and prosperous nation. We must stand together for a better future and shape our education system to best prepare our students for the challenges of tomorrow.

Towards ethical education: practical steps

To make the curriculum of Swiss schools truly holistic and ethical, teachers and schools can take several steps:

  • Incorporate animal rights and environmental issues into lessons: Teachers should integrate animal rights and environmental issues into lessons and give students the opportunity to critically engage with these issues.
  • Invite experts: Invite animal rights activists, environmentalists or representatives of animal welfare organisations to give students an insight into the problems of factory farming and its impact on the environment and health.
  • Develop projects: Encourage projects where students can develop their own ideas to tackle factory farming and pollution. These can range from information campaigns to setting up student initiatives.
  • Encourage critical thinking: Encourage students to think about the background and consequences of factory farming and animal cruelty, and discuss together how to create a more sustainable and ethical way of life.
  • Visit alternative farms: Organise field trips to ethical farms or animal-friendly farms that practice sustainable and respectful methods of farming and animal husbandry.
  • By implementing these steps, teachers and schools raise students’ awareness and sensitivity to ethical issues and provide them with important skills they need to become responsible and engaged citizens of tomorrow.

How much factory farming is there in Switzerland?

Almost 80 million animals were fattened and slaughtered in Switzerland in 2020. These conditions must change, because they not only have an impact on animal welfare, but also on the environment and human health. / 29.09.2022

The future is in our hands

Swiss teachers and schools have the opportunity and responsibility to shape the curriculum of Swiss schools in a way that not only imparts knowledge but also promotes ethical values and critical thinking. Such education will help to ensure that today’s students develop the skills and awareness to address the pressing issues of our time and shape a better future for all. It is time for all of us to wake up and stand together for a sustainable, ethical and liveable world.

Thank you for reading. What are your thoughts? Leave your opinion in the comment section down below.


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Bastian Peter

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