What paradigm shift can change this world

FREE DAY

Learn to change the world

The new FREI DAY learning format is making waves in German schools. Since the start of the new school year, more than 30 schools have already been on the way to implementing this new learning format. Margret Rasfeld, former headmistress and educational innovator, and Tobias Feitkenhauer, project manager of the FREI DAY network, from Schule im Aufbruch explain what the FREI DAY is all about.

Children who start school today will not leave school until 2030 at the earliest. By then, the world will have continued to change. By 2030, the global community will have implemented the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - what is certain is that the world will differ radically in many areas from what we know today.
As the young adults of tomorrow, today's children will have to find answers to questions that we do not yet know today and develop solutions to challenges that we can only guess at. How does school adequately prepare young people for this?

In ESD for 2030, UNESCO describes the central goal of education as “learning to change the world”. In addition to cultural techniques such as reading, writing and arithmetic, what is needed above all is future skills such as the courage to act and trust in uncertainty. Learning to change the world is more than just knowing; it is about action orientation, about personal experience, about reflection and experience of self-efficacy. In order to be able to deal with the volatility, complexity and ambiguity of our world, people must have experienced that their actions have an effect - on themselves, on others and on the world.

At the same time, we need a social transformation, a fundamental change in attitudes and attitudes. It's about a cultural change from the ego to the power of we. Education is central to this. A paradigm shift is required here in order to promote what society needs for the great transformation: courageous and creative global citizens, cosmopolitan with a sense of community, who are used to thinking in a solution-oriented manner and taking responsibility. For themselves, for their fellow human beings, for our planet. We have to learn to think and act anticipatory.

These future skills cannot be acquired in a school that is traditionally based on security and in which a timetable specifies what is to come out at the end of the lesson. What is needed are new learning formats that give children and young people the freedom to experiment themselves, implement their own projects and become self-effective.

People who experience themselves to be effective are more resilient, happier, and get up more quickly when they fail. They take on more responsibility for themselves and others and actively shape their environment. We need such designers if we want to meet the challenges of our present and future as a society innovatively.

With the FREI DAY, we at Schule im Aufbruch have developed a learning format that gives students the freedom to implement their own projects with at least four school hours each week that deal with questions about the future. You work in teams across all grades, network with experts from the educational landscape and implement your projects in schools, cities or communities. According to the motto “think globally, act locally”, with their projects they make a contribution to promoting the solution of the great challenges of our time at the local level.

The special thing about FREI DAY is that the projects are not rated and thus it can be learned that failure is also an important learning process. The projects are not limited in time and so projects can last from two weeks to two years or longer.

Of course, this also requires a change in attitudes from teachers to learning guides or coaches. Because they accompany the teams in their process and design the space in which the students can develop and implement their projects.

Students and parents also need to be well prepared for this change. For many children, school time ensures that their natural curiosity diminishes. In specialist lessons, they are conditioned to answer given questions instead of asking their own questions. Bringing this curiosity back to life is the great challenge in the first weeks of the FREI DAY. Therefore, teachers need a good plan of how they can support the children in developing their own ideas again.

Some parents are also afraid, especially at the beginning, that their children might miss out on material through FREI DAY that is later relevant for successfully completing school. This fear is understandable, as parents always want to create the best possible conditions for their children. It is therefore important to involve parents in the process from the very beginning and to show that the skills their children acquire on a FREI DAY are not only necessary for their future, but are also in line with the subject curriculum. On FREI DAY, parents can be well involved, for example as experts. A regular exchange about what your children do on a FREI DAY creates transparency and trust.

Since the beginning of the school year, more than 30 schools of all school types are on the way to introducing a FREI DAY or are already successfully implementing it. Together with their schools, schools document their experiences in the consumption and make them visible to all interested parties on www.frei-day.org. Their main goal is that by 2025 13,500 schools, i.e. a third of all schools in Germany, have implemented a free space in which their students can learn that they can change the world.

What is the FREI DAY?

You can find more information about the FREI DAY here.

School on the move

The initiative Schule im Aufbruch was founded in 2012 by Margret Rasfeld, Prof. Gerald Hüther and Prof. Stefan Breidenbach with the aim of transforming schools into places of learning where potential can develop. As a grassroots movement, Schule im Aufbruch supports schools with impulses, networking and transformation support on the way to a school culture of the development of potential, the anchoring of education for sustainable development in the core and the necessary change in roles and attitudes among adults.