In Germany only 16 percent of all teachers feel that they are “well” or “very well” qualified to teach natural sciences education. According to Prof. Dr. Jörg Ramseger (professor of educational sciences and director of the department of educational investigation at the FU Berlin) the children’s motivation for research, from primary education onwards, is not promoted ambitiously enough by educational officers. “Education starts with curiosity”, says Prof. Peter Bieri. From the early years onwards, children should be motivated in the sciences, because later on, they will mostly lose this interest.
At the Evangelische Gesamtschule Berlin Zentrum (Integrated Evangelical School of Berlin Centre, esbz), a cooperation with the Blue Economy has resulted in a transferable instruction concept for the area of sciences.
The esbz was founded as a reform school with a radical change in learning concepts. As an autonomous school it aims to set an example regarding viable developments. The school is committed in a special way to the ambitions of AGENDA 21, hence it is also called “AGENDA-School”.
The motivation of the team surrounding Mandy Voggenauer, sciences teacher at the school, is based on active and cooperative learning, as well as creative and critical thinking. The teachers take over the role of a moderator within the learning process, encouraging the children to answer questions, to elaborate on a result and to reach solutions independently.
Now, after a one-year-long pilot period, the first results capable of being replicated are available and can be transferred to other schools.
As a first step, the students elaborate on new perspectives based on some fables by Gunter Pauli, in order to learn how everything is interconnected in science. These fables promote systemic thinking and emotional intelligence, the understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of others. Thus, they recognize and respect differences, manage their emotions more effectively and interact respectfully with others. These are crucial aptitudes in the children’s lives, enabling them to cultivate a harmonious relationship with themselves, others and their environment.
Different practical projects are carried out, based on the fables. The production of fertilizers and soil from food waste, plant cultivation, energy generation, flying objects and many more, enabling the students to experience in practice the knowledge acquired in theory.
This open structure quickly provoked a series of socio-political questions: Where does our food come from today? Why are the Earth´s resources used in such an inefficient way? What can each of us do to make some changes at grassroots level? In this way the students better understand and absorb the subjects and their backgrounds, bearing in mind that “education is what is left behind when we forget what we have learned”. (Edward Frederick Lindley Wood).
At the first Parent Campus, the students gave an impressive display of what it means to present their own knowledge and opinions, becoming involved in scientific discussion with their parents.
At the same time, the basic curriculum must not be neglected. “I always care about integrating the curricular subjects into the projects in order to not provide less for the children, but rather give it a finishing touch”, says Mandy Voggenauer.
Now the project at the esbz will enter the next level. During the summer a whole week will be devoted to connecting the philosophy of the Blue Economy and sciences to the elementary school curriculum.
In theory and practical experience, the students will again be taught the sensibility of sustainability, as well as becoming acquainted with different professional fields.
The project week “Autonomous Classroom” is a transferable and multi-disciplinary instructional concept which aims to motivate the students beyond the framework of the regular lessons with its interdisciplinary approach. A systemic subject will be the base to become better aquainted with the details of some other subjects such as German, English, mathematics, sciences and social science.
Markus Haastert, president of ZERI Germany and Blue Economy, has become a committed partner of the esbz. In this way, the school could become a pioneer where “an educational module for the next generation will be developed from this economically, ecologically and socially visionary concept”, affirms Margret Rasfeld, director of the esbz.
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