What could I contribute to our school?

Hermann Giesecke:

What can school contribute to values ​​education? (2004)

© Hermann Giesecke

Although social research repeatedly emphasizes that in the last few decades there are no valuesdecaybut a valuechange has taken place, the public discussion about the moral values ​​that people follow, or at least should follow, has a predominantly negative tone, namely in the sense of a valueloss. The public only seems to be interested in this topic, although the word "value" actually has a positive connotation. Logically, in the current debate, this negative accent is associated with a whole series of crisis phenomena: undermining common sense, triumph of the elbow society, one-sided leisure and fun orientation, loss of moral standards, excessive individualism and egoism. These complaints are usually accompanied by the demand that the school should oppose this development and convey so-called "positive values" again.

Obviously she has to try that within her own walls first. "Etiquette comes to the school" was the glee in a newspaper report about the new subject UBV ("Handling, Behavior, Behavior"), which a school principal gives in the fifth grade of his Bremen school - expressly supported by the responsible school senator. The program includes greetings and opening the door, learning to knock, saying please and thank you or how to address teachers correctly. The initiator justified this step by stating that the tone at his school was bad, that people were treated in a disrespectful and disrespectful manner, sanctions such as reprimand and reprimand and even blue letters had long since ceased to be successful, the learning atmosphere was significantly impaired by this style of handling. Values ​​such as hard work, punctuality, respect and courtesy are needed again.

This need is by no means limited to Bremen. Other federal states are also considering whether behavior lessons could promise improvement. On the one hand, it expresses helplessness in dealing with the social neglect at not a few schools, which has been known for years but has now obviously also reached public discussion; on the other hand, the call for a new or at least renewed "value education" is loud as an antidote. It is gradually becoming clear to the public that the poor results of German students in an international comparison, as determined by the PISA studies, among other things, can be corrected not only by better teaching - whatever that may be - but also by changing behavior in many schools require.


Now the topic is ideally suited for ideal images that can be sure of the approval of all well-intentioned people. "We need a binding set of values ​​as the basis of our personal life as well as our social behavior - and we have to pass this fixed value orientation on to our young people .... Interested and open-minded, competent and capable of criticism, independent and future-oriented, reliable and willing to perform - and all of that on the basis of a binding value orientation "the children and young people should be or become; so formulates the Bavarian Ministry of Culture. But the ideal are silent about how this should be achieved in practice.

The following considerations are intended to pursue this question in a brief sketch. The starting point for this is a pragmatic one, because there is no need to clarify fundamental preliminary questions for reasons of space. What values ​​"actually" are, how their relationship to morals and ethics is to be determined in detail, is not discussed. Rather, it is held to be immediately evident that the development of internalized and increasingly stable value orientations, which are able to steer action, if not in every individual case, at least in a strategic sense, is an important part of the educational processes of children and young people. What contribution can the school make to this value creation process within the scope of its possibilities?

In attempting an answer to this, a few caveats must be kept in mind in order to avoid obvious illusions.

1. The value orientation of children and young people is fed by many sources that teachers can only influence to a small extent; some of it is also subject to fashionable wear and tear or age-related preferences. All the social places in which the children move are involved, and not least the mass media. Value orientation arises within the framework of the entire socialization. So teachers cannot do the process of value building in students producebut only complementary and corrective in him intervention. Whatever is to be achieved pedagogically in this context, it can always only be about Interventions Acting in internal processes that have already taken place at each point in time of the educational activity. Opportunities for educational influence arise only in the context of pedagogically defined social places such as family, school and child and youth work - educators have no influence on the other social places that have a lasting impact on value creation. Even the intentions of the various educational venues are not necessarily congruent; the intentions of the teachers can, for example, be thwarted by the opposing tendencies in the families. In this respect, only one of them is required Contribution to speak, which the school does in this context, but whose success it can neither calculate nor guarantee.


2. School as an institution is not responsible for answering the last questions of human life - apart from denominational religious instruction. Because of the principle of neutrality resulting from ideological pluralism, teachers are rather professionally required to operate on a level below the basic ideological decisions. School pedagogy and educational science cannot decide what values ​​actually are and which are the right ones. The higher the level of reflection becomes - for example on fundamental questions of ethics - the less there is consensus even in the relevant sciences. But what is controversial in society, the school can take up and work on in the classroom, but it cannot make it undisputed. It is obviously not just about - as the public often thinks - to propagate values ​​that are believed to be correct and to transport them into the minds and hearts of the students. As a public institution, the school is bound to the requirements of the constitution, to the general laws and thus also to the values ​​and norms that are expressed therein. But this dimension is generally relatively abstract and therefore peripheral for everyday school life and for the everyday life of pupils in general.

3. The value creation process takes place inside the person and is therefore not recognizable as such from the outside. Only insofar as the respective values ​​represented are concretized in social action or behavior as well as in corresponding arguments can they be verifiably perceived. The school can only orient itself to this by referring to it and trying, in the sense of a Help to the valueeducation To influence. That is why values ​​education in school is at the core criticism the reasoning of the students on the one hand and their behavior on the other. "Criticism" does not mean personal downing, but in the original sense of the word enlightenment through differentiation and judgment, which can include encouraging support for previously acquired standards.

It is therefore a matter of seeing two educational tasks in context, which are generally considered to be different from one another: "social learning" or social education on the one hand and values ​​education on the other. "Values" are not philosophically abstract from childhood, but perceived through social action, and the disputes with social rules and norms necessarily associated with this action lead to partly unconscious, partly insight-based values ​​- mainly through mere socialization, but also through Education in the educational fields. Conversely, it turns out early on for the child that successful social action requires a value orientation on which the partners in action can rely. Values ​​are learned above all through the fact that personal endeavors come up against limits - namely rules and norms - and have to work through them. From the child's point of view, its inwardness is primary, but in fact it is social. In order to understand this context, it must reflect on its experiences,


wonder. This requires the help of pedagogically thinking adults such as parents and teachers; socialization alone is not enough.

Against this background, values ​​education in school is not a special or even a new task that requires special training, a special subject or curriculum, but only the special emphasis on something that happens or should happen in school anyway. It is important to emphasize this because otherwise there is a risk that educational policy - pushed by public opinion - will merely lapse into actionism that cannot serve the cause, or that the topic will, as usual, be replaced by a tangle of pedagogical or pedagogical Statements, reasons, concerns and defense mechanisms are stifled - which is already emerging as a reaction to the behavioral initiative.

So how can the school contribute to the process of creating value for its students? This can be done on four levels, namely on the level of teaching, the example of the teachers, the norms of the institution and the school culture. In practice, these levels merge with one another, but they should nevertheless be separated analytically because they each have a special scope and legitimation.


The subject matter itself inevitably touches upon values ​​and norms in every school subject, i.e. questions about the good and the right life. These only have to be taken up where they appear implicitly. They by no means belong only to special subjects such as religious education or "values ​​and norms", the special importance of which should not be denied, but cannot be discussed further here. Values ​​education in school means first and foremost to bring the valuable aspects of the facts back into the focus of the lesson. That was actually always part of the concept of educational Include lessons, insofar as this should help the students to work out their subjectivity through the encounter with cultural objectivations. This does not mean something brought in from the outside Moralization of the substances that are usually rejected internally by students, rather it is about factual reflection. The didactic structure


door pattern for this is the confrontation. That means: The previous value formation of the pupils - whatever it took place - is confronted with such values ​​and norms that come to light in subject-oriented lessons - for example in a literary text. The confrontation creates the necessary distance to be able to lead arguments about questions of value, the result of which may be a critical revision or the newly developed confirmation of one's own previous point of view. However, this assumes that the current sensitivities of the students are not the measure of all things. Rather, it is the alien and resistant intellectual claims that arise from the materials and thus also from the natural and cultural reality. In dealing with this, the pupils are confronted with values ​​that they can work off of; conversely, they may ask themselves questions that they themselves address to the moral quality of the material. The lessons do not contribute to the creation of values ​​simply by exchanging opinions about current sensitivities and their evaluation with the more than likely result that everyone announces what they already know and insofar as there is no reason to change their own values to put oneself up for debate. Rather, this is only possible if something has to be worked on that is not due to common opinions, but is able to transcend them. Here, in the classroom, is also the place for in-depth reflections on fundamental questions of morality and ethics, as presented on the one hand by the appropriate materials and on the other hand by the respective interest and comprehension of the students. The only question is whether there is enough time to reflect and argue together. Strictly speaking teaches the school has no values, it practices them reflection. The result is therefore in principle open - both on the factual level, where different interpretations are at stake, which have to be decided on argumentative, and with regard to the level of subjective appropriation. Lessons understood in this way can contribute to the formation of values, but must not aim to prejudice them. The opportunities for repeated and systematic reflection on values ​​and norms that the lessons can provide are hardly available to students in their other living environment.

Teacher role model

However, the opportunities for "reflection" must be supported by professional "example". We're talking about Idol of teachers: How to communicate with students and how to deal with conflicts, how to present themselves professionally and didactically, how to deal with the intellectual content of their material, how to differentiate between personal opinion and factual information, how to deal with the strengths and weaknesses of students, how communicatively and aesthetically stage - this can lead to significant role model effects, even if this is not always obvious. This is also not about a special or


even a new task, but something that belongs to the professional self-image of teachers anyway and should perhaps only come back into consciousness. Even in the context of the family and also in school, value education has to do to a large extent with the quality of personal relationships experienced. Those who want to learn and be able to do something orientate themselves towards people who seem to have already achieved what they are striving for. For everything that can happen in school, this includes the teachers, in a good as well as in a bad sense. Whether they like it or not, they are always perceived by the students as people, not just as so-called arrangers and moderators of learning processes - as it is called in the new German school jargon. It also does not contradict the fundamentally required ideological neutrality of the school that the teacher as a person reveals his own position on moral issues in an argumentative form, i.e. not just as a commitment - especially when he is expressly asked about it by students. Of course, this assumes that the teachers themselves find a reflexive relationship to the values ​​contained in their subject matter.

However, expectations of the teachers' role models must not be exaggerated; rather, they must be tied to their professional tasks. In the past, they were understood much more comprehensively - both in terms of self-image and in the image of others, namely in relation to his entire lifestyle. This conception corresponded to the conditions of a relatively closed social world, as it used to be found in village communities, where private life - such as family life - had a public character, and a divorce, for example, was considered unacceptable. Students today know little about the extracurricular life and behavior of their teachers, and if they did, it would hardly occur to them to take him as an example.

Institutional norms

The two levels of value education just mentioned - the normative content of the school materials and the example of the teacher - can only influence the pupils in the sense of an influence offered but they are free to accept them or not. No student can be forced to look at a certain teacher as a role model or to interpret a certain material in the sense of the teacher for his own value formation; rather, both are determined by individual ways of appropriation and processing.

The third level of the pedagogical influence on the value creation process, however, is based on binding expectations. It is about observing the basic rules that must apply in school as an institution because they are indispensable for its central purpose, successful teaching: a certain basic discipline, non-violent and polite interaction with one another, tolerance in


commitment with readiness for argumentative discussion; willingness in principle to participate in the common task.

At this level, norms come into play that are given to the individual striving for action and thus set limits.This changes the perspective: if up to now it was a matter of influencing the individual process of value creation by reflecting on the subject matter, now the path is taken via the collective claim that is expressed in the norms. Here, too, it is about values, but in the mode of collective commitment. Norms and the rules of behavior derived from them are essentially based on values ​​that are particularly worth striving for within a community, are therefore in need of protection and are permanent. They are at the same time a reservoir for the respective individual value formation, because this can only be built up through social action. Individually represented values ​​and non-individual norms are therefore related variables, not irreconcilable opposites, as they appear in some reform-pedagogical discourses.

The children had similar experiences long before they started school, and they continue to do so outside of school. Everywhere they encounter norms and social rules that set a level for action that must not be exceeded, otherwise sanctions will be enforced - penalties or at least reprimands. In this respect, the school certainly remains within the framework of the previous experiences of the students, if it also asserts those norms that are indispensable within its walls for the coexistence related to the specific tasks as naturally as emphatically, instead of waiting for them to be implemented at some point the inwardness of child souls are invented; Nobody would come up with such an unworldly idea outside of school. If the school refrains from asserting the norms peculiar to it and the values ​​implied therein, it also denies the pupils the experience of the necessary social Character of the values ​​they strive for individually.

A single individual cannot realize values ​​without sharing them with others and experiencing a corresponding social response. To repeat, values ​​are essentially one social In fact, they are taken over from social contexts and are concretized in social actions. It is therefore of decisive importance which value experiences a child makes in his particularly important social contexts such as family and school, but also in the peer group. Namely, the wrong Being experiences - a problematic milieu, problematic friends. It is therefore important that the school has appropriate facilities in its rooms Againstarranged experiences and does not get involved in the mere continuation of the extracurricular milieu of the students.

Those values ​​and norms that the pupils learn outside of school as part of their socialization can namely in cannot be accepted arbitrarily by the school. They are at least partly in the various social milieus


and different standards are based on the different social places. However, these maxims are not of equal importance, as it sometimes appears in socio-romantic transfiguration. For future opportunities of social participation is rather a certain A set of rules of conduct is necessary that has already been preformed in the school's institutional norms and is therefore transferrable. The educated middle class is still and again increasingly setting the tone for public behavior. So if the school wants to contribute to social equality, it owes its students the practice of appropriate manners, and the institutional norms mentioned are an indispensable basis for this. If the school really wants to improve the social chances of the socially and culturally disadvantaged children from home, it must not simply stabilize the milieus that hinder this within its walls. The desirable collaboration between home and school must therefore not be interpreted in an abbreviated way. It is possible and also justified that the pupil sometimes gets to know other values ​​at school than are usual in his family. That is also what is meant by the term "confrontation".

At this institutional level we are faced with two fundamental problems: the justification of the rules to be enforced, on the one hand, and the design of the areas they do not cover, on the other.

The fact that rules to be followed must be legitimized by reasons is one of the essential achievements of the democratization of public life. Strangely enough, the school explains a lot to the students, but hardly to itself. Perhaps that is also because everyone thinks they know what the school is for. But with regard to its character as a public institution and what follows from it, there is a lot of ambiguity not only among students, but perhaps even more so among parents and certainly also among teachers. The fact that the very character of an institution implies being allowed to make demands, one often does not want to be true, is perhaps not even present in the political consciousness of those involved. Much is discussed in the public debate on education policy, but this point of view is almost always sought in vain. The institutional norms of the school are relatively easy to explain to the students (as well as their parents!):

1. They are immediately obvious for living together in school. Unless everyone else shut up when someone says something, you cannot understand them. If everyone wants to live without fear, then nobody should use force. If no demands are made, one remains below one's learning opportunities. If someone doesn't cooperate and doesn't participate, it gets boring because you don't know what they have to say. These and other examples are immediately evident, and reason enough for even elementary school students to understand them. The problem is rather whether the teachers always see that these are necessary guidelines that must first be explained, but then also put into effect and not first invented by the children themselves.


It is also immediately evident that "disruptions" hinder joint work and concentration on it. This applies not only to the classic "chatter", but also to any other deviating activity such as using the cell phone, eating or walking around in class. The now numerous attempts to establish school regulations or class regulations usually remain at this level of direct evidence. This decision may have to be sufficient for younger cohorts, but it does not get to the heart of the matter because the fundamental requirements of the institution appear to be at the disposal of those involved. However, this becomes a problem at the latest when it comes to legitimizing the enforcement of these claims.

2. However, it is more difficult to convey justifications that are based on the school as an institution rather than on the direct communicative benefit; they do not make sense without further ado, because they exceed the radius of direct human relationships and do not focus on the current state of the students, but on their future opportunities. This is about the appropriate balance of give and take that appears to be relatively abstract in everyday school life.

In the form of schools, society offers the younger generation, on the one hand, training to enable them to optimally participate in their professional, cultural and political opportunities for action; Without school education, people in modern societies are limited to a marginal existence. On the other hand, society needs the skills acquired in school for its own reproduction and development. Both sides can only be seen together; the enormous investments in education must be matched by an adequate willingness to perform and to make an effort on the part of the students. For example, our society has a right not to use social dynamite resulting from poor schooling on a massive scale. The willingness of the pupil to develop his abilities optimally in school is also something of a civic duty; if he refuses, others will have to pay for him in the future - but why should they?

3. Everywhere in social life - the students can confirm this from their pre-school and extra-curricular experience - norms and the rules derived from them are enforced with the help of somehow well-founded power. That must also apply to the school. There is no powerfree social structures, the question is always whose power and with what legitimation gain validity. The school as an institution, for example, has the right and the duty to protect its members: the students from each other and from their teachers, the teachers from each other and from the students and their parents. All efforts to educate values ​​in schools are ultimately doomed to failure if the state does not give its school as an institution the authority it requires. The more clearly he expresses what he expects from all those involved within the framework of the institution and how he is willing to enforce this, the more precisely he names them


Norms, which he connects with it, and all the more orientation for the value formation of the students he provides. If, on the other hand, he leaves the school as an institution neglected, he can only expect a very limited contribution to value formation from it; In any case, such a deficit cannot be compensated for with pedagogical means. The real difficulty, however, is that the necessary reconstruction of this authority relies on the support of public opinion and those directly involved.

Power has become a frowned upon word in educational contexts. One prefers to rely on discourses, on insight and inner conviction. Although this strategy is fundamentally required from a pedagogical point of view, because the school is ultimately a place of learning, it becomes illusory if it disregards the fundamental institutional guidelines that are beyond its control and that must not be kept secret from the students. Otherwise they would be deprived of an important orientation for their value creation process.

At this institutional level, however, it is not about the enforcement of a general catalog of virtues or a certain attitude, but only about the enforcement of a certain one Behavior. A public institution - with the exception of the court, but this is a special case - must not expect a certain attitude or a certain character structure from adults or children. In addition, nobody needs all people to like, but behavior Everyone has to be polite and civilized towards everyone and especially within the framework of the law. Against this background, head notes in the certificates that refer to more than the obviously recognizable behavior are problematic. In addition, if you want to give personality or opinion-oriented grades, you need a different reasoning context than the reference to the norms and rules of the institution. So they limit themselves by their substance.

That is why the rules of the institution mentioned are on the one hand too crude to regulate life in the school in detail, but on the other hand they are no longer sufficient. However, this space that remains open has to be filled somehow. For example, what should happen in the event of a dispute between students or between students and teachers? Normally, values ​​only come into consciousness in cases of conflict. Therefore, dealing with conflicts in school can be very productive for values ​​education; because value structures are essentially formed on the basis of experiences that one makes with one's own actions. The experience of setting boundaries by others - classmates or teachers - is extremely important. Anyone who sets no limits to children and young people prevents them from developing stable values.

Many schools have now passed school regulations in which such everyday issues are regulated independently. There used to be no such gray areas, because the teachers made decisions based on their extensive authority, which the students had to follow, and when it came up, they were given a reason for them. Today, however, not only in school,


but in almost all areas of society those involved are included in the decision as far as possible; Reasons must therefore be given for their plausibility. So it is about procedures with the aim of understanding. What do we do, how and with what aim when something goes wrong? Clear moral judgments are no longer made about the people involved, but rather compromises are sought. In other words: in such processes, common values ​​are first produced or at least raised to awareness in order to then be protected by mutually recognized norms. Historically, this dimension of value education is largely uncharted territory for schools - incidentally, also for the administration, which tirelessly produces decrees in this gray area.

Internal institutions can also be brought into being in such processes of understanding. This includes the formal co-determination bodies of the students, but also institutions such as the so-called "conflict mediators". Such offices allow - as with other institutions - to step into a formal and thus also emotional distance from those involved, to separate matter and person and in this way to search for appropriate solutions.

School culture

If things go well, a differentiated school culture, a specific organization of school life, emerges in the way just described, in addition to the core task of teaching, which could be called the fourth level of values ​​education in school, although it is essentially a summary of the levels described so far represents. It can be vital in building student values. It's about the common Shaping social interaction, the style and tone of daily dealings, the possibilities of formal co-determination for the students, the aesthetic design of the rooms and human relationships, but also what is called "school life" in the narrower sense, e.g. artistic Performances, parties and celebrations. In a "climate" resulting from all this, benevolent and beneficial, but also providing security and orientation, fundamental value experiences are possible that can extend far beyond life in school. The school pedagogical discussion has recently rightly paid increasing attention to these aspects.

However, it should not be overlooked that the range of school experiences is fundamentally limited. The value creation process of young people can no longer take place today one social place - not even in school - should be carried out so comprehensively that its results can therefore easily be transferred to all other social places. For factual or legal reasons, important social situations in school cannot be created at all. There is no discotheque, no department store, no street clique, neither a market nor a television giant-


lung. So there is a lack of important probation situations and thus places of social action that the school cannot reproduce. That is why the school must on the one hand accept its limitations, but on the other hand also make its peculiarity evident, which also distinguishes it from other social places in terms of value education. So there are values ​​and norms that are of particular importance in school, and it does not matter whether they also have this importance in other social places in which the students move. What can be regarded as right, good or appropriate can therefore no longer be grasped in a logically clear generality, but differentiated according to location and situation. For a long time it is no longer a question of "correct" or "incorrect" values, but rather sensible combinations and balances of values ​​that are acceptable in themselves.

The subject of values ​​education is obviously not suitable for pathetic pedagogical declamations, promises and magic words. The school can only achieve what is really possible within the scope of its scope of action; this is not a little, if perhaps less, than the public often wrongly expects.


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