Photo: Juri Junkov

Education Forum: A Fresh Approach to Learning


For the second year in a row, the Schöpflin Foundation once again invited teachers, school heads and other educators from the Lörrach district to its Education Forum in the Werkraum Schöpflin.

While last year the focus was on introducing teachers from the region to the entire gamut of the work of the Schöpflin Foundation, this year the idea was to provide participants with new momentum and inspiration with a practical orientation. During parallel workshops, the educators were introduced to concrete approaches on how to think differently about schools and, most importantly, how to organise them differently. Like last year, there was once again a keynote speech, this time given by the well-known neuroscientist, Prof. Dr Gerald Hüther.

The interest in the event was considerable: some 150 educators and other interested parties from the Lörrach district, Freiburg and Switzerland attended. Participants were offered a choice of four different workshops:

  • Alexa Schaegner from the aula initiative, a communication platform for education, ran a session on ways of organising schools in a democratic and participative way;
  • In another session, Jamila Tressel (20) and Nele Klinkmüller (16) – two pupils from the Evangelische Schule Berlin-Zentrum (Protestant school group, Berlin) – explained how teachers could learn from them about how democracy and responsibility in schools can actually be pursued;
  • Lisa Küchenhoff from the International Rescue Committee demonstrated methods on how to convey social and emotional skills as part of a classroom lesson;
  • And Valentin Helling, from the Alemannenschule in Wutöschingen, explained how a state school can undergo radical change and what the prerequisites are for achieving this.

Just like Margret Rasfeld last year (who, this time, was in the audience), Gerald Hüther this year gave a similarly critical and entertaining talk in which he passionately illustrated the need for the transformation of schools. He spoke about the natural joy children experience when they learn and discover things, and then explained how our modern, performance-oriented society and the German school system are systematically taking this joy away from children and young people. His presentation was also a plea to individual teachers to encourage them not to be limited in their willingness to change, but rather to develop lots of different approaches – and ideally to develop these approaches together. Because, he said, it is only when many schools pull together in the same direction that change actually happens.

The Schöpflin Foundation is delighted with the positive feedback it has received from the participants and the positive response it has had to its »Lernen Anders« (‘A New Way of Learning’) series, which is designed to facilitate a greater exchange of ideas between teachers and schools in the region in the school year 2018/19. Information on future events in the series and how to apply to attend the events can be found here.