During my studies I spent most of my holidays in education programmes that had an adventure-based approach to education. These programmes involved activities in nature, experiencing forests and community, engaging in activities that foster group processes and social behavior. I enjoyed these activities immensely, since only after a few days you could already see so a lot of differences in the children's behavior.
While they were still set on their own advantage when they joined the programme, you could almost see their social skills grow while solving tasks in a group and joining activities in which their
success depended on trust and cooperation.
After a few years, I was also encouraged to join the theater-related education programmes. Here, fantatstic worlds for children were created. We established a circus with 100 children rehearsing parts of the programme, decorating the venue, preparing artistic, musical and theatrical performances. And we, as educators appeared as fictional characters too. In the next year, we invented a Harry-Potter-themed holiday in which magical characters appeared, secret messages were sent and students solved riddles and became magical people themselves. Another year, we developed a town-set-up in which children acted as mayors and waiters, chefs and bankers, journalists and cleaners and also started their own university. This utopian town made me reflect on our society and inspired children to try out different roles. In this surrounding, they were active citizens and their deeds immediately had an influence on their whole community.
Because of these experiences, I strongly support our schools co-operative approach to welcoming our students. Their first week at our school takes them and their new classmates to a trip which
focuses on group-processes, interactive and outdoor-centered learning and helps them found the basis of social cohesion in their class. You can watch them create team spirit and become a
community which trains to solve problems together through planning, taking care of one another and reflection.
While teaching in different school types and different subjects (Geography, Politics and History) was unusual for me, but still fairly normal teaching, offering Sex-Ed in afternoon classes was a more challenging experience. Students came from very different backgrounds and as this school was said to be the one with the most diverse social background, their experience with regards to sexuality were very diverse as well. Students' experiences ranged from no experience at all and a general feeling of fear and disgust towards the topic to over-sexualized behavior at a very young age and even experience in prostitution. Our strive to encourage dialog about love and sexuality in a constructive and healthy way was a challenge.
I had a similarly challenging experience when working with juvenile delinquents who had almost been sent to jail for seriously harming other people repeatedly. I was mostly watching how more experienced educators worked with those youngsters, trying to teach them to feel empathy for their victims, reflect on their deeds and develop strategies not to react in a violent way ever again. We used several techniques and some of them were also theater- and music-related. I had joined the team since I was a singer and an educator. And they introduced me to their concept of singing with delinquents, who - through this - should learn how to deal with being slightly out of their comfort zones or dealing with situations that they thought to be embarrassing or unmanly.