One The current study commissioned by the school book publisher Cornelsen revealed that the majority of German school leaders would like a reform of the timetables, the canon of the subjects is no longer up to date. In an interview with NDR Kultur, René Mounajed talks about mistakes and new approaches.
The German education system has not yet arrived in the 21st century: this is a criticism that comes loudly from within the ranks. Are you pleased that this resentment is articulated in this clear way?
René Mounajed: Yes and no. I’m happy because I think so too. And because I think we have made serious mistakes in the education system over the past 20 years. The associations keep saying it. And now it’s getting strong – I think that’s a good thing. On the other hand, it is obviously very sad that this discovery exists and that so many principals come to this conclusion.
Learning for life has always been a goal. Instead of “beautiful writing”, life skills today tend to include health, nutrition, democracy and digital education. You can of course fold them to existing subjects. But apparently that’s not enough.
René Mounajed: No, that’s not good enough. Education systems have always been adapted, it’s time again. For me, what we have is a very rigid system. Education is still up to date, you have to ask. No she is not. You can see that companies, for example, have long since started their own business and created their own educational spaces. I once saw a big company build their own makerspace with 3D printers because they said: it’s better for students to learn it here with us than not at all. Schools must be equipped. They need new conditions and new structures.
You are the principal of the Robert Bosch Comprehensive School in Hildesheim. When was the last time you were really frustrated with existing study schedules or schedules?
René Mounajed: In reality they are every day. The question is always: Are the lessons relevant to the students? Only then can I take them with me. You have to ask yourself: what am I doing in the event, what subjects am I teaching, what do young people need to survive in the world out there, but also to be responsible people? There is a lot of hot air in the curriculum at the moment and they need to be eliminated. I also think you need to build new compartments. Interdisciplinary projects must have priority. And of course we need a basic fee. There will always be a school that teaches mathematics, German and English. But I think you can think about all the other things, for example to what extent you can teach her in a targeted way in projects.
Headmasters are now also part of the system. Have they had so little leeway to push for the structural changes they now require?
René Mounajed: In part yes. The assignment structure has changed, so you don’t become a principal for the money, but simply because you want to shape the school. The responsibility of schools needs to be further strengthened. Schools must be able to decide for themselves on the spot: what is important? What do our students need here and now?
Should we worry about individual topics in the future if the canon is to be changed? For example, what could be thrown out?
René Mounajed: Escape is the wrong word. I believe it will be connected in a different way. You can easily combine topics with each other to form higher level units and projects. And I think this will be the deciding factor for success. The user system is very slow – it will be a long time before something like this can prevail. I’m just taking risks. There is a future school project in Lower Saxony. The Minister of Education just put it on. My school is also involved. Now we are trying to shake the foundation and see what happens. There isn’t much else at the moment anyway. And I very much hope that this will prevail in the long run and that we can really institutionalize this project by learning more. Lessons should always be measured by their relevance to students.
Which contemporary projects have recently been particularly popular?
René Mounajed: Today, for example, we have installed a “My Day” in the school, which means that all the students of this school have worked on a project. There were also partners for extracurricular education: companies around the corner, reporters from the local press, local politicians, members of the Bundestag were present and supported the students in their projects. So we have a process where students think about how they want to change education. How do you want to concretely change our school? This means that female students are included in the educational process, their opinion is important and we support it in the best possible way. And we involve extracurricular professionals. For example, I think this is a key that works very well. And you immediately have the intrinsic motivation you need for learning processes. We do not reach everyone in this way, I say it immediately, but we reach many, and we are happy that this could perhaps be a step towards how education can be thought differently.
The conversation was led by Philipp Cavert.