It’s awesome

January 2014

Dear Reader, A phone call from the police: you can collect your daughter now. Why, what’s happened? In the afternoon, Maria (16) had gone to the Oktoberfest, the famous Munich beer festival, wearing her dirndl. That same evening she was discovered dead drunk behind a festival tent. The police kept her at the police station for a while longer to allow her to sober up. Her mother and father were horrified. They reproached themselves – had they been too liberal in bringing up their daughter? They asked her why she had done it. “Well, we were sort of partying. Then I went outside and just flaked out.” But why did she have to go there? “It’s such great fun with everyone. Everyone talks about it, it’s awesome.” In their mind’s eye they still see little... [more]


All inclusive?

By Mathias Maurer, January 2014

Dear Reader,  If we frame the concept of inclusion widely enough, we can be left in no doubt: our society creates separation. For the little ones it is crèches and kindergartens, for the elderly and the ill it is old people’s homes and hospitals, for school-age children it is school which itself sorts and selects, and finally for the so-called people with disabilities it is the special-needs institutions. Where do we still find the grandmother in the rocking chair taking pleasure in family events? Where is the “confused” person still allowed to run shouting through the streets when he suffers another attack? The social trend is obvious even at a brief glance: it is the exclusion, indeed, the disappearance of whole population groups from daily life.... [more]


A question of trust

By Mathias Maurer, November 2013

Dear Reader, Lars has grown up in well-ordered circumstances and a loving environment with two older siblings. He has a lot of time to play and stimulating, well-educated social surroundings in which a religious life is also cultivated; he spends a lot of time outside in nature. His parents would have been hard pressed to do better. When he is nine years old, things begin to change: Lars becomes very hard work. Few lunch times pass without a shouting match, few lessons from which he is not thrown out. Lars lives as if he were alone in the world, including the way he expresses his feelings and acts. His style of learning and communication is becoming an “insurmountable” problem, people say. Lars appears to have no awareness of this problem, he only feels... [more]


Our little astrophysicist

By Mathias Maurer, October 2013

Dear Reader,  We were sitting in the garden one evening and Sarah (5) called out: “Look, the sun is going down!” A glowing red ball slowly sank below the horizon, a magnificent sight. Sven (9) bent over to me and whispered conspiratorially into my ear: “You know something? The sun doesn’t set at all. The sun doesn’t turn around the earth. Only the moon does that. The earth really turns around the sun.” I asked him: “How do you know that? From here both look the same, don’t they?” Sven’s immediate response: “I recently saw it in the paper. There was a picture from space on which you can see the earth looking very tiny. I think the astronauts discovered it.” I remembered: the American Cassini space probe, which has been orbiting Saturn for almost... [more]


How’s it going?

By Mathias Maurer, September 2013

Dear Reader, What is the point when we ask: “How’s it going?” What is it that “goes” – sometimes well, sometimes not so well? External, visible going is probably not what we mean in most cases and yet there is an inner connection to what the question is about. The German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder wrote in his Ideas for the Philosophy of History of Humanity: “With upright carriage, human beings became artful creatures; for through this, the first and most difficult art which human beings learn, they are initiated into learning all of them and becoming what we might call living art … Meanwhile all these artful tools, the brain, senses and hands, would have remained without effect even in an upright form if the Creator had not given us a... [more]


This is intolerable!

By Mathias Maurer, August 2013

Dear Reader, Recently we were sitting at the table and talking – about school once again. Sarah, class 9, Nicolas, class 5, and I. “This stupid morning verse, why do we still have to say it? ‘I look into the world...’, it’s just embarrassing, like in kindergarten,” Sarah thundered. “Why stupid?”, Nicolas asked, “my teacher told us that we should love all plants and animals. That’s true, isn’t it!” I ask: “Can either of you say the morning verse?” Pause. Then in fragments: “... there lie the stones ..., in light of Sun and Soul ..., O Spirit of God ...” They could not manage it – it is probably something that only works as a group in class. I look on the shelf, pull out the book to take a look: “This is intolerable! We aren’t in school here,” Sarah... [more]


Balance in motion

By Mathias Maurer, July 2013

Dear Reader, Little Manuel is lying in his cot, wildly flailing his arms and legs about. His sister looks at him and asks: “Why is Manu thrashing about in the air like that?” Her mother answers her: “Well, you see, he first of all has to learn how to properly move his little arms and legs.” – “Did I also have to learn that?”, enquires his sister. “Yes, of course. And now you're already using a skipping rope!” His sister looks once again into the cot: “But I'm so much slower!” Movement is not motor skills or reflex, it is sheer will. As the child grows, this will is increasingly internalised, guided and ever more strongly permeated with consciousness. What applies to the body also holds true for the soul and spirit. Only flexible feeling lets us act... [more]


The power of song

By Mathias Maurer, June 2013

Dear Reader, Mia never stops singing. During play, on a walk, in the bath, but also with her mouth full at mealtimes. The five-year-old can sing all the verses correctly or make up a tune, or she might just hum away to herself. If she is asked directly to sing a song she falls silent. Even if she does not understand the content of all the texts – singing is part of her life. Paul, her brother, refuses even to open his mouth. After all, he is fourteen already. Singing? How embarrassing! He also once used to like to sing, beautifully. Where has that gone? Paul knows secretly that he would have to reveal something when he sings, something which his little sister still possesses quite naturally: oneself – and Paul’s self is just under reconstruction.... [more]


It’s the teacher, stupid

By Mathias Maurer, May 2013

Dear Reader, It was incredible. Class 10. French. Svens marks hovered between a four and a five. New teacher. A few months later between a two and a three. What had happened? The pupil did not understand the sudden change and the new teacher did not know Sven other than as an interested student involved in lessons and with acceptable test results ... In his meta-analysis Visible Learning, the New Zealand educational researcher John Hattie analysed the learning outcomes of 250 million pupils in 50,000 studies. Hattie required 15 years to work his way through this mass of numbers and the elephant gave birth to a mouse of insight: it is the teacher’s personality which decides how well pupils learn. Yet everyone who can remember their school days... [more]


“Mummy, he's speaking Italian!”

May 2013

Dear Reader, Julian (3) was in Italy with his family and his siblings for the summer holidays. There they indulged daily in fresh bread rolls for breakfast. Back in Germany, the family stood on a Saturday morning in the bakery. Lukas (2), Julian's brother, was excitedly pestering his mother, but she was unable to understand what he wanted. His words were incomprehensible. What was he wanting to say? Lukas was getting exasperated, tugging on his mother's sleeve and irritatingly repeating the same sentence in the packed bakery: “Chono Lisa ei?” Lukas had become quite angry by this point. Their father also tried, but failed to understand a word. Things took a turn for the dramatic. Nobody understood Lukas. Was this another bout of the sweetie rage? Had a... [more]

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