In Switzerland, primary school textbooks in the natural sciences are not what they should be. Researchers would like to play a greater role in bringing science to school children – but there are big hurdles to overcome.
The Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) is also aware of the problems being faced. "We're not asking for the textbooks to be written by scientists – the education experts at the pedagogical universities can do a better job", says Helmut Weissert, professor emeritus in geology at ETH Zurich and President of SCNAT's Committee for the Promotion of Young Talents. "But we'd like to have some input when it comes to questions such as: What knowledge actually belongs in a school textbook? Where did new scientific focus areas emerge in the last ten or twenty years?" Weissert believes that the people drawing up the textbooks still haven't yet opened up the doors to dialogue wide enough. Nevertheless, initial contact took place in late August 2016, when publishers, educators and scientists came together for a joint workshop in Bern.
Weissert offers a concrete, negative example from his own field. "In the curricula and textbooks, inanimate and animate nature are still kept strictly apart. But we've known for some time that biological and geological processes are closely linked to each other". In order for such crucial knowledge to enter into textbooks, it would be an important step for authors to meet with experts for a roundtable discussion before actually starting work.