• 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
Germany says 'won't let anyone take Europe from us'
Steinmeier called the European Union “a successful project of peace and stability”. Photo: DPA

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that the EU would weather the shock of the British vote to leave the union as he convened crisis talks.

Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Gallery
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
7,900
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd