• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Children engrossed in an activity at the Freie Schule in Germany. Photo: Freie Schule Anne-Sophie Berlin.

Bilingual school turning education on its head

The Local · 19 May 2014, 13:00

Published: 19 May 2014 13:00 GMT+02:00

Germany’s capital offers a greater number of alternative schools than ever, but whether they are private or state funded, most still stick to the tried and tested formula of standard education methodology and techniques.

The bilingual Freie Schule Anne-Sophie, Berlin in Zehlendorf however, turns much of the traditional model on its head, from the teacher-pupil relationship right down to the actual physical surroundings where they study.

These differences become apparent the minute you walk into the building. Pupils here are taught in large, open plan spaces, known as learning studios, designed specifically to create what the founders call a kind of third teacher, reasoning that the learning environment has a major role to play in a child’s education.

Inside the building meanwhile, the idea of a teacher standing in front of the class and lecturing, is completely non existent. Here, they are referred to as “learning coaches”, while the pupils are called “learning partners”, a theme which is central to the whole ethos, according to head of English, Adrienne Tscherniak.

“The important thing is the breakdown of hierarchy; of who is responsible for the learning and the imparting of facts. The emphasis for us is on coaching. Children are partners with us, but also with each other, which gives them more confidence and a greater sense of self initiative,” says Tscherniak.

The foundation of the school’s philosophy is a mixture of education cultures.

“There are many different ways for people to learn,” she continues.

“What makes us unique, is the combination of different elements. For example, we take the idea of autonomous learning from Montessori, but we blend it together with many other sources at the same time.”

It gives the children a greater sense of autonomy and self-responsibility, to plan their work and time to reach both the school’s mandatory goals following the Berlin curriculum, as well as their own personal ones.

How they actually do it is very much down to them though. Again gone are the traditional tools, in favour of a work plan and so called learning diary, where plans and aims are mapped out.

“We try not to tell them what to learn, but give them goals, and the tools to help them get there. Ultimately, it comes down to confidence and self-motivation," adds Tscherniak.

Everyone is grouped in so-called learning families, which encompass three separate age groups. The coaches meet them twice a week to help with planning and deal with any other social or learning issues, while they all eat together as well.

“We find that this helps the atmosphere, and we also see different relationships forming, as they take responsibility for each other in a kind of little brother, big sister way, making partnerships that they wouldn’t possibly have in more traditional surroundings” says Tscherniak.

The concept was founded in 2006, when Bettina Würth founded the first Freie SchuleAnne-Sophie in Baden-Württemberg. The Berlin school, which is in its third year, currently has 140 learning partners; 70 at the secondary school and 70 at the primary school, offering grades 1 – 10, with plans for expansion in the near future.

Tscherniak, admits that it is not always an easy transition for the new students when they first arrive, and that the system will not be suitable for all children, especially those who have a greater need for structure. But like any other system, it comes down to the individual.

“Many children don’t know what to do with their freedom and have a settling in period, but if there are enough students around them who are more in the routine and can help bed them in, it normally takes around three month for them to get into the routine,” says Tscherniak.

On a practical basis, funding comes from the State and from parents, with tuition fees based on family income.

Scholarship places are also available for the less well off, while the insistence on a uniform, highly unusual again in German schools, is also seen as anther way of breaking down social and economic borders.

“It is a relaxed kind of uniform but we feel it is important, because essentially it builds a sense of unity and community, “ says the Head of English.

Tscherniak says she has seen a noticeable change in attitudes towards the Freie Schule Anne-Sophie Berlin in recent times.

“People are very curious. More and more are coming to our information meetings and evenings and they seem to be fascinated by the idea that it is such a different environment to learn in. There are many bi-lingual schools in Berlin, but we feel we have found a good fit here.”

Freie Schule Anne-Sophie Berlin website (information in English)

* This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Freie Schule Anne-Sophie Berlin


 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Scooter singer finally reveals how much the fish cost
H.P. Baxxter. Photo: DPA

It is the question Germans have wanted to know the answer to for almost two decades - and now they have the answer, thanks to a US talkshow host.

'I'm definitely not a paedophile': disgraced MP
Former MP Sebastian Edathy is in hiding after a child pornography scandal destroyed his career. Photo: DPA

Former MP Sebastian Edathy quit his job and left Germany after videos of naked children were found on his computer.

Weekend promises storms, humidity - and a bit of sun
A storm in Cuxhaven last weekend. Photo: DPA

The forecast for the coming days isn’t the pristine blue skies many of us are longing for. But, in among the storms, the sun will still peek out.

Prosecutors take aim at unedited Hitler book
An original edition of 'Mein Kampf' featuring a photo of Hitler on an inside cover. Photo: DPA

German prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating whether to bring charges against a publisher who has promised to print a version of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" without annotations.

VW bets on battery factory for electric car dominance
A VW logo is seen in front of a plugged-in electric car. Photo: DPA

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen is set to sink huge sums into building a factory for batteries to power its future electric cars, German media reported on Friday.

Raging ticket controller seizes Chinese traveler's passport
File photo of a plainclothes ticket controller. Photo: DPA.

Germany's national rail operator is in hot water after a ticket controller reacted aggressively to a newly arrived Chinese traveler who made one of the most basic transit mistakes: forgetting to stamp her ticket.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Police hunt Brits who Hitler-saluted in concentration camp
Buchenwald. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Germany are searching for two British men who took a picture of themselves performing a Nazi salute in a torture chamber in Buchenwald concentration camp.

Far-right tries to lure voters with own-brand gummy bears

Germany's far-right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have come up with an unusual marketing strategy on their website.

How your boss can still pay lower than the minimum wage
A protest in front of the Chancellery in 2013. Photo: DPA

German workers are disappointed about the first-ever court ruling on the country's year-old minimum wage law.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,841
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd