Rethinking school

By Mathias Maurer, December 2021

Professor Giovanni Maio, head of the Institute of Ethics and History of Medicine in Freiburg, recently spoke out clearly in an interview with the newspaper Badische Zeitung (23 September 2021) about the social exclusion of people who are not vaccinated, their worse position in health care and their financial disadvantage.

He tried to teach his students to respect their patients’ outlook on life unconditionally, even if they themselves might think quite differently about some things.

“If the state says you are free to decide, but don’t you dare decide not to vaccinate, that is both a contradiction and an encroachment,” says Maio – who personally believes vaccination is a sensible thing to do.

The socially weak are not able to afford the tests. The consequences of the coronavirus measures hit them doubly hard, as Klaus Zierer, professor of school education at the University of Augsburg, recently found in a meta-study that evaluated international data. His finding: children and young people fall behind in all areas of their personality development, psychosocial development, physical health and learning performance – a consequence of social isolation and increasing digitalisation.

Moreover, Zierer says, the already existing differences between low- and high-performing pupils have widened depending on the socioeconomic background of the families – especially at primary school level. His conclusion: it is not enough to argue one-sidedly from a virological perspective and manage schools under pandemic conditions; rather, an educational master plan is needed that rethinks school – a curriculum reform that reweights and declutters the existing curricula. Individual support measures would have to be introduced, parental cooperation strengthened and electronic media used with a sense of proportion.

The coronavirus crisis is putting the ethical foundations of our community, our civil rights and educational justice to the test. All forces must be mobilised to prevent the social and educational polarisation from deepening. The “fight against the coronavirus” must not lead to the losers losing even more.

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