A girl looking thoughtful

 

 

 Falko Peschel introduces a number of short films about his work which can be found on our video pages: https://www.libed.org.uk/index.php/videos

 

 


What is different about the concept of the Bildungsschule Harzberg is the particular emphasis on the individualisation of the teaching; that is why many children with special needs of various kinds come to the school.

In a small school community of about thirty children they learn in mixed age groups. Every child is challenged and encouraged and decides what to learn within the open curriculum.

Learning which is based on the needs of the child looks different from what goes on in a conventional school. The children do not all do the same things at the same time. They do not sit at desks waiting to be told what to do. There is no classic “teaching” which requires everyone to follow the same short steps. Instead of that, the children are challenged every day to decide what, when, with whom, how and where they want to work.

This does not mean working through prescribed material such as worksheets or text-books, but is based on genuinely personal projects. The children do their own research in self-selected books or from the internet, and make displays or power-point presentations. They present their own work to each other in circle time, which is chaired by a child and usually takes place three times a day. (Otherwise circle time is the place where general proposals and problems are discussed and settled democratically.) This concept has become an integral part of the teacher-training curriculum at many universities, training programmes and seminars, as well as in continuing education programmes for school directors and teachers, both in Germany and abroad.

Before Falko Peschel founded the Bildungsschule Harzberg, he had tested and evaluated his own approach for several years with a class in an ordinary primary school. The surprising result was that although the class included many children with particular difficulties that had to be addressed, the results were much better than in comparable classes. (The Bildungsschule Harzberg is run on the same principles, except that the children are not divided into age groups.)

Even children who were not considered to be educable in ordinary schools were promoted when they moved to the next stage. When they left the primary school three quarters of them went on to the Gymnasium (roughly the equivalent of a British grammar school) and no one went to the Hauptschule (secondary school) or any special school. It seems that the performance level of the class had been shifted significantly upwards – in its entire width, without it having disadvantaged any particular groups of children.

 

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