Save education! Ten propositions regarding the school of the future

Henning Kullak-Ublick

l. Give children time!

Everything needs time to mature. Development does not consist of high-speed turbo-learning but of gradual growth and maturation. Every child learns in its own time. Children must gather experience and experiences, digest and process them. The soul must ripen. Only those things with which we connect through experience stick. The personality can only develop if it immerses itself in the world in all its abundance. The school of the future will take the path towards the goal just as seriously as the goal itself. In the school of the future time is not wasted but meaningfully structured.

2. Bring momentum into school!

School should make its pupils healthy not ill. Pupils and teachers spend a great deal of their life in school. Schools need rhythm, the momentum of the alternation of breathing in and breathing out. Breathing in means assimilating the material; breathing out learning to bring what has been learned to expression. This rhythm gives strength, it refreshes and creates room for experiences. The school of the future will take account of the rhythms of life and learning: it will structure the hours, days, weeks, years in the rhythm of deepening and widening, movement and rest, remembering and forgetting.

3. Achievement brings joy!

Everyone wants to achieve something. A child learning to walk is happy about each successful step. When we achieve something, we are happy. Achievement brings joy. We must not drive the joy of achievement out of children in school. Let us give the children the opportunity to make an effort, to grow in the face of challenges. Let us allow them to do things that are meaningful, which bear their value within them. Marks are not important, skills are. The school of the future will challenge pupils – practically, artistically and spiritually. Achievement wants to be seen, not measured. It bears its value within itself. That is why the school of the future will enable an inclusive education.

4. Give the children images!

All knowledge starts with wonder, a riddle; it ends with the concept. Living learning lets knowledge grow out of questions. That is why children need fairy tales and stories which allow them to marvel at the world. Only wonder stimulates us to think. We are not interested in what leaves us cold. Children take possession of the world through images and stories. Through images and stories they learn to create their own inner images and through images they obtain insights. Images are food for the soul. We do not want to communicate finished judgements to children but flexible thinking which has been learned through living images. The school of the future will not just promote the intellect of the children but their mind, their heart forces, their whole personality. Through images and role models it will stimulate its pupils to form their own ideas and judgements, strengthen their moral capacity of judgement and enable them to become role models themselves.

5. Examinations: yes! Selection: no!

Children need examinations so that they can gain experience in mastering challenges and get to know themselves better. Examinations are milestones – not stumbling blocks. What children do not need are examinations which only ask them what they cannot do, which divide them into winners and losers, into those who get on and those who are left behind. Children should expand their skills through examinations but never be humiliated. The school of the future will build examinations into its every-day practice – as an adventure, as self-experience, as a challenge; it will no longer misuse examinations as a means of selection but use them as a means of personal development.

6. Children are world citizens!

Children are born citizens of the world. Let us not drive such a cosmopolitan outlook out of them in school. An understanding of foreign cultures belongs into every school. It is stories, myths and legends, folklore, music and poetry which give geography, history and economics a human face. Anyone who has danced and sung with a foreign culture will not make war on it. The school of the future will be an intercultural and integrative school. Dealing with foreign cultures will be part of the every-day life of the school just as “foreigners” are part of our every-day lives.

7. Only those who love the world can protect it!

The environmental crisis is a crisis of consciousness. Our time suffers from a nature deficit syndrome. Children must learn to know and love flowers, trees, beetles, sheep, birds, stones, clouds, streams and fields. They should be allowed to gather fundamental experiences in nature with all their senses, with head, heart and hand. We can only respect and love what we know. We can only understand and protect what we respect and love. The experience of nature generates a responsible attitude towards nature. Starting in the first year of school, the school of the future will place value on giving its pupils a living understanding of nature through practical work and ecologically designed school grounds.

8. Media competence or: save our language!

Media competence is one of the central educational challenges of the present and the future. Knowing how the new media work is a given. The greater challenge consists of making school into a place of experience and learning for the whole diverse range of expressive and communicative possibilities with regard to other people and their natural and cultural environment. Music, the visual arts and movement are important aids in this respect. Language assumes a special role; its maintenance is a necessary condition for differentiated and individual thinking. The school of the future will practice media competence through an extended concept of media which makes the human being as the active subject into the focus again.

9. Teachers need freedom, parents too!

Teachers should always be on a journey and learn at least as much from the children as the children learn from them. Their passion must be allowed to grow in parallel with their professional experience and not wither away. The more comprehensively and diversely they develop their personality, the more stimulating they are for their pupils. The fully developed personality must also have freedom and self-determination. Teachers cannot be subject to orders, they must set an example as to how as responsible citizens we take responsibility arising from self-determination. That is why teachers must be free in the way that they structure their lessons and be allowed to develop their schools independently of bureaucracies. Parents, too, must be free to choose the school which they consider to be best for their children. Fair competition between good educational concepts can only work if state-funded and independent schools have equal rights because only then do all parents have a choice. Equal rights include equal economic conditions. When the state disadvantages independent schools this contradicts equality of opportunity and educational justice. The school of the future will be financed for all through educational vouchers.

10. Teacher training is artistic training!

Teachers are allowed to be explorers of the world because they work with explorers of the world. If they are creative, they stimulate the children to develop their own creative potential. If they are passionate, they also make others passionate. Only those can open up new spaces who enter insecure territory. Only those can teach learning who learn themselves and understand learning as an art. The teacher training of the future will be far more than just professional training – it will be the way to self-education. The school of the future needs new teacher training; it needs teacher training which forms creative personalities, not blinkered specialists. The teachers of the future will combine scientific reflection with artistic practice, practical and social skills with life wisdom.

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