Nelson Mandela Realschule plus Trier
Project: “Let your greatness blossom”
Working language during the project:
Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:
- Making children’s and students’ voices heard
- Addressing controversial issues
- Preventing violence and bullying
- Dealing with propaganda, misinformation and fake news
- Tackling discrimination
- Improving well-being at school
Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:
- Valuing human dignity and human rights
Valuing democracy, justice, fairness, equality and the rule of law
Our school works on the topic of inclusion and has even won an inclusion prize. We try to avoid the word inclusion as it points out special groups of students that are often separated and discriminated. We prefer the word democracy because inclusion is a question of participation and anti-discrimination and human rights.
- Knowledge and critical understanding of the world: politics, law, human rights, culture, cultures, religions, history, media, economies, environment, sustainability
Our school got the Title and is part of a national network called „school without racism - school with courage“. We are profoundly proud to have won Esther Bejarano, a 94-year old holocaust survivor as a partner and sponsor of our anti-racism project.
In Rhineland Palatinate each school decides for annual targets. Our annual target is to work on respect. Different projects and measures took place in the last year to work on this topic, e.g. respect day, respect being a topic in different subjects and lessons…
Target group age range:
Level of education:
- Lower secondary education
Short description of the project:
We understand democracy and anti-discrimination not only as an object of learning but we want to enable our students to understand, learn and apply competences of a democratic culture through two underlying areas.
One area comprises reliable, recurring structures in different areas, which are either anchored in the school year or recur during everyday school life. In order to give a small insight into this area, I would like to mention, for example, the dispute resolution programme learned by students after a basic training, reliably carried out for all students and frequently used in everyday school life. In the lower level e.g. team and cooperation trainings take place regularly.
The pupils of the higher classes regularly visit the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament and discuss with politicians who also come to the school for a return visit. Visits and participation in didactic programmes at a concentration camp memorial site and a synagogue are also regular events.
Every year our entire school community also supports the campaign „Red-Hand-Day“ which can be assigned to the learning area of world understanding.
Currently in the planning stage is the training of students who see themselves as multipliers and who should give advice to their classmates on how to deal with propaganda or hate speech online and offline.
The second area contains those projects, events or competition participations which we develop from the needs and questions or suggestions of our students or from social movements or changes. This includes in particular the area of controversial issues and problems that students often bring to us and which arise from their natural willingness to create and participate. These are often not easy to solve in class discussions and sometimes it takes more than lectures and conversations to understand connections or controversial questions of living together in a society.
In 2016 for example, when millions of people set out and our students saw endless suffering, they began to ask questions about a world in justice, a world without discrimination or bullying - they observed insecurities in society and asked „WHY“. Taking up these suggestions, we designed a project week under the title "we are colourful", which mixed pupils of all levels and which dealt with the topics of origin, impairment and racism in a creative and diverse way and from which, among other things, the project "School without racism - School with courage" emerged within the framework of a working group organised by pupils. The initiating group of pupils first informed themselves, then the school community and collected signatures from all those involved in everyday school life who - convinced by our pupils - committed themselves to stand up against racism and discrimination. Esther Bejarano, a 94-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, became a godmother for this project and our students were full of pride in their enthusiasm for a two-day reading and concert event with her. They folded 300 peace doves and just as many buttons for the guests of the event, which was opened by the then Federal Minister of Justice (Dr. Katharina Barley) and at which our inclusive school choir sang as well.
But there are more projects in our house, such as the implementation of a "Respect Day", on which our students dealt with a wide variety of contexts - such as visiting an exhibition by and with visually impaired people in complete darkness, working out ways of reacting to discrimination or violence in everyday life in linguistic as well as graphic, musical and theatrical ways. Theatre plays on the subject of racism were written, staged and performed in front of other schools at an event for "fairness, peace and tolerance".
Our pupils actively supported the municipal "Special Olympics" with their help. In a workshop with wheelchair users, they practised a change of perspective and would not have the common breakfast before school holidays, which often takes place in the classes, where pupils bring specialities from their countries of origin to school - the start into free time would only be half as nice.
Last but not least, I would like to mention the area of competitions: last year we won second place in the inclusive school prize and in 2017 first prize in the Rhineland-Palatinate "One World School Prize" with a short film (stop motion) in which one of our pupils with Down Syndrome was significantly involved.
In every part of school life, be it projects, events or teaching content based on the curriculum, we strive to involve every pupil and to show them that without their participation the big picture of school life is not complete. This means that we open ourselves up in a didactic and methodical way in the classroom and integrate methods away from the purely frontal teaching that positively serve the inclusion of every form of impairment, aptitude, origin and linguistic level, but also make use of the most diverse learning locations.
- implement the reference framework in democratic, agreed way
- students and adults for aspects of discrimination in every day life
- find ways to reduce barriers, participate, cooperate and take responsibility for the school (world) we live (and learn) in
- see ourselves as part of the world and world in parts at the same time
- All students feel welcome and being a part of their class and the school community.
- Students from our school participate e.g. in town parliament
- Students recognise barriers against participation and develop ideas to reduce them.
- Class parliaments take place in every class - more and more in a student focused way
We are still at the beginning of implementing the competences of a democratic culture in our school development concept. As a result we want to want to transfer our implicit work on this matter into a reflected and agreed concept that works step by step and includes methods of evaluation. This frame is supposed to ensure that projects as well as subjects are included and democracy becomes visible in our school culture.
Challenges you faced
Step by step, our school was able to anchor the idea that projects could not only be designed on a large scale and with the greatest possible power available, but that small steps could also get the ball rolling. In an increasingly performance and certificate-oriented society, it is sometimes difficult to explain why these projects make a major contribution to the comprehensive and holistic education of a child, not only at the level of preparation, implementation and reflection - and that the scope of the cognitive output often extends far beyond the current project. This can be seen particularly clearly in the example of projects which are based on democratic structures when it comes to the involvement of each individual in project development, planning, stabilisation of conception and implementation.
Time-frame of the project:
- Long lasting project (never ending)
Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:
- Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture