By Mathias Maurer, May 2021

At the time of writing this editorial, the schools are (still) closed: an opportunity to take another snapshot – not representative, of course – in the immediate vicinity of the sensitivities of parents, teachers and pupils.

Let’s start “at the bottom”. Class 4 pupil: “I think it’s very nice that there’s no school, but all the homework is terribly exhausting.” Class 7 pupil: “As long as I can meet my friends, it’s okay that schools are closed. I think it would be cool if afterwards we had a week of school and a week of homeschooling in alternation.” Class 13 pupil: “Well, it’s really stressful. Are the exams taking place now or not, and when? After two hours of online classes, I’m exhausted anyway.” The class teacher of the class 4 pupil: “This is beginning to get me down.” The class teacher of the class 7 pupil: “At least we have video conferencing, so the children are aware of each other, which is good for the social aspect of the class.”

The tutor of the class 13 pupil: “If this goes on much longer, I’ll quit.” The mother: “I don’t know how the others manage without going crazy: homeschooling, working from home and family – all at the same time.” The father: “In everyday life you try to pretend to be normal. But it doesn’t really feel real anymore.”

What can we take from these statements? The “little one” likes to be at home, but doesn’t like to do homework. For the “middle one”, the peer group is more important than anything else. For the “big one”, gaining knowledge on the screen only works to a very limited extent. The teachers make a virtue out of necessity until it is no longer possible to reconcile that with their idea of school. Without the parents, the “system” of school hardly seems to function any more, just as the whole of “normal” life can get into a crisis of meaning. What conclusions could be drawn from this?

For example: abolish homework (lower school). Put more emphasis on self-directed lessons in group work or project lessons. The peer group is the most important thing (middle school). Digital forms of teaching cannot hold a candle to classical face-to-face teaching in terms of learning success – even in upper school. And teachers could give up being guided by the prescribed curriculum, turn to the existential questions of life and deepen these in dialogue with the pupils.

Perhaps this would create a new interest in learning. It would at least take the pressure off some parents. In order not to continue producing social losers – especially in today’s times – every school must become more aware of the fact that, more than anything else, it has a socially integrating effect as a lived community.

As I said: a personal snapshot – others experience it completely differently. And reading can be healthy on all levels of social life – we hope that our issue with its focus on vaccination, medicine and health will also contribute to this.


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