Am Harzberg 1
The Bildungsschule Harzberg is an independently operated primary school in which children from classes 1 through 4 learn and work in a mixed-age group with a support person who remains with the group all four years. No tuition is charged. The entire school community comprises only 20 to 40 children.
What makes the concept of the Bildungsschule so unique is the high level of individualisation in the learning process. Every child receives individual support and decides what and how to learn within the open curriculum.
This approach to learning is optimally suited and meaningful to the individual child – a fundamental requirement for avoiding learning difficulties and using sustainable learning to develop competencies that form the basis for lifelong learning.
At the Bildungsschule Harzberg self-determination is not reduced to the performance of specified tasks, assignments or plans, but is seen as autonomous and self-determined learning – and this, from the very beginning and on the basis of direct democracy.
Every morning the child who is the designated meeting leader calls all children and adults together to discuss current issues and hear what each child has planned for the day:
Michael would like to try some challenging arithmetic problems, Sabine plans to continue working on her self-written "Bibi Bloxberg Book", Lars would like to work with Mehmet on a presentation about the war in the Middle East, and Kai and Meike want to keep working on their weather station ... And in no time, they are all spread throughout the classrooms and school grounds, working on their own projects.
The furnishings, seating and materials are flexibly adapted to the children’s learning, as are the working and social forms and the pace of work. In this setting everyday sources of information (non-fiction and history books, lexica etc.) and ordinary materials become the key to learning, along with a few select tools (alphabet charts, dictionaries, hundred squares).
The children’s work is usually “interdisciplinary” and requires a reflected use of not only language and writing, but also artistic and design elements, extending even to the construction of models and the layout of posters.
Statistics, size comparisons in the presentations and stories also incorporate mathematical aspects, which – in addition to research on mathematical relationships and structures – provide an important connection to the practical applications of this subject.
As needed additional meetings are held now and then – or at the end of the school day at the latest – in which the children show, comment on and reflect their work, inventions and productions – and at the same time give one another feedback and encouragement for new plans and projects.
In addition to self-directed work, experts are available to provide support when the child is interested in the further development of a special area of knowledge or skill (learning a classical instrument or art technique, performing experiments in physics or chemistry, practicing gymnastics or acrobatics etc.).
Thanks to its small size and independent management structure, the Bildungsschule Harzberg is able to readily and flexibly respond to all such requirements in the interest of the child and parents.
The concept of the Bildungsschule Harzberg has been successfully tested in several long-term trials with both same-age and mixed-age classrooms within the public school system, and the results, documented and published. 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.