Capturing our time in Berlin

Today sees the culmination of Reiner Mathar’s exploration of the Whole School Approach. Today looked more closely at the approach in conjunction with school visits that will take place next Monday and Tuesday.

These visits will be used to allow the participants to evaluate schools and their approaches to education, and so this morning, Reiner led the discussion on how to evaluate schools and on what criteria e.g. the ethical issues that should be considered, asking open questions for better data.
This led the group to move into more focused research, looking at the schools they will be visiting and developing specific questions they will want to ask to find out as much relevant information as possible. This could be, for example, what teacher training is available? What environmental projects do they have in place?

Reiner explained to the participants the problem of using best practice as a tool for development – using model schools for other schools to aim towards. He compared this principle to a lighthouse – the lights are high in the sky, making it hard and usually expensive to even start working towards when the achievements are so great. He also highlighted the importance of soft skill development for Sustainable Development e.g. optimism, personal traits & social graces, while acknowledging how difficult these are to teach, measure and obtain results from.

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Sarah demonstrates how to use the cameras

Another issue that was discussed this morning was how best to measure children’s progress. Does the standard method of grading children actually hold them back? And do other countries do it better, by writing comments about the children’s behaviour rather than such obvious passes or fails? The participants considered what options would work best in their home countries, taking into consideration the education backgrounds they come from.

In the afternoon, Sarah Sandring, who worked with the group in late October, returned to practically work through a teaching method with the participants. This no theory approach allowed the group to open up and relax with their learning.

Sarah worked in India for five months, exploring children’s lives by working through a photography project with them. Back in Berlin, after a bit of stretching and warm up, Sarah asked the group to look at and interpret a random photo. First they noted the obvious details of the photo, then built up to making assumptions about a man’s life based on this photograph.

This introduction to thinking about photographs was followed by thinking about the groups best memory since they arrived in Germany, over two months ago. Also, what associations had they made with their new country. These associations were then allotted letters of the alphabet e.g. W for German Winter. Then photographs! The group had to capture photographs representing these letters, and so representing their time here in Germany.

Photography Exercise!

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