Scientist: schools are poorly prepared for crises: digitization can help

MONK. First Crown, now the wave of refugees from Ukraine: according to the Education Action Council, the German education system from kindergarten to university lacks resilience to the crisis. In its annual report released Thursday in Munich, the renowned science committee advocates better preparedness of educational institutions, teachers and students for the unpredictable, an essential aspect of this: digitization.

Pupils who have learned to work independently with digital media cope better with crises. Photo: Shutterstock

The Action Council calls for detailed emergency plans for educational institutions, better IT infrastructure and greater autonomy so that, in case of doubt, they remain able to act even without instructions from above. “Our society has felt safe for too long, because pandemics, wars, attacks on the body and on security would never have taken place,” explained prof. Dieter Lenzen, former president of the University of Hamburg and chairman of the Action Council. “It was a dangerous mistake.”

In addition to Lenzen, the members of the Action Council are eight renowned educational researchers from various universities and scientific institutes, funded by the Bavarian Business Association. Scientists provide recommendations for action on three levels: not only for educational institutions and their organization, but also for staff and for children, young people and learners.

According to the more than 300-page study, “Predicting conceivable future conflicts and crises is essential for future-oriented problem and risk management.” “All in all, it can be said that the COVID-19 pandemic has caught both the education and training system and many individuals (teachers and students) completely unprepared,” he says. “Apparently no one could have imagined the conditions under which education and upbringing could be fundamentally questioned. This circumstance must be characterized as a preventive failure of the state. The naïve assumption that the education and training system could not be affected by any crisis is explained at best by the fact that the Federal Republic of Germany, at the latest after the fall of the Wall, has succumbed to the almost touching sight that it gives there only peace, joy and happiness would reign. “

The impairments and shocks to the education system caused by the pandemic have made the deficits very evident. “With its integrated slow and incremental learning mode, the education system is poorly equipped for the task of resilient crisis management. So no one should be surprised that reform rhetoric is flourishing, but the reality of reform is suffering, ”the authors write.

“Self-regulation of learning should be taught in early childhood and practiced in primary school”

In this context, the Education Action Council recommends, among other things, the following: “By promoting key competences in the areas of reading, mathematics and natural sciences, well-being, independent learning and positive relationships, children can already acquire resources in primary school age with which they find it easier to deal with a potential crisis. (…) Self-Regulating Learning Ability (SRL) should already be taught in first education and further deepened and practiced in primary school . This support must be systematic, individualized support within SRL also help teachers to care for underperforming children in a more targeted way. From this point of view, it is worthwhile to evaluate in detail the advantages and framework conditions for successful self-regulated learning, without losing sight of the urgent need for greater support for comps key groups, especially of the weakest students in the fields of reading, mathematics and nature sciences. “

Digital devices should already be used in regular lessons so that children have already learned to work with them when distance learning is needed due to the crisis. “Even if a serious crisis will not recur in the near future, the reconversion of the primary school system in the sense described (greater variety of teaching through digital devices, new pedagogical concepts, role models and teachings from SRL) could enrich teaching and development of the main children in general. Students who are able to learn independently are better prepared for the lifelong learning required in the 21st century ”.

For secondary levels, the Action Council recommends “strengthening 21st century resilience and skills through the use of specific teaching methodologies”. In concrete terms, this means: “In the classroom, learners’ resilience can be strengthened using teaching methods such as cooperative, self-directed, inquiry-based learning and learning with the support of digital tools and focusing on social and learning aspects. emotional. These teaching methods have been implemented in curricula for a long time and their effectiveness has been proven by a large number of empirical studies. In addition to specialist knowledge, they promote core learning and innovation skills such as scientific reasoning, problem solving, communication, cooperation and collaboration, learning strategies, but also motivation, interest and well-being in school and should therefore primarily be anchored in school development plans and in the future further training as objectives and offers “.

As digital tools dynamically support important resilience factors such as communication, cooperation, creativity and problem solving, schools urgently need adequate digital infrastructure. “In addition to math, reading and life sciences, digital skills are now another key skill to enable participation in our society. Therefore, in order to strengthen the resilience of all pupils, computer classes should be anchored. nationally and compulsory for all types of secondary school in the future “.

“Teacher resilience must be effectively promoted in teacher training and further strengthened in school work”

The development of a sustainable and stable IT infrastructure is also a necessary condition at the school level for resilient management of crises and disasters that make face-to-face learning impossible. “This can only be successful if school authorities and school supervisors systematically support schools in developing IT concepts and provide the necessary specialized staff.”

According to the Action Council, educators, teachers and academic staff should be better prepared for mentally stressful situations and “stressors”, including the prevention of Burnout. “Teacher resilience must be effectively promoted in teacher training and further strengthened in school work. This is in the interest of the teachers themselves, but also of their students and the schools they work in. Among other things, “enthusiasm, optimism, hope, social and emotional skills” should be promoted.

Regarding children, young people and students, scientists promote, among other things, special training to promote psychological resources such as awareness, motivation, optimism and perseverance. Specific support programs should be developed for vulnerable groups of students. The vbw business association, as a client, also wants to involve parents: “Because only those who are resilient can also lead by example and pass on this ability to children,” said vbw president Wolfram Hatz. News4teachers / with material from the dpa

You can download the full Education Action Council report here.

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