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School landscapes - wasteland outside, dreary inside

The first day of school after the summer vacation. When they start school in the orientation level, the sixth graders play several skits for the newcomers from elementary school, which deal with situations at the new type of school for them. The former elementary school pupils sit on the stage next to their parents, irritated by what is being presented, and watch the action unfocused. It is much more important for them whether they come to the same class with their friends. Then finally the class division and the subsequent walk into the new classroom. First disappointment: Although the school was only recently built, the school authorities only provided the required minimum dimensions for the rooms. 28 children cavort in a confined space. It is not easy to rearrange the tables - the frontal teaching seems architecturally preprogrammed. The view out of the window finds peace on an oversized designed concrete wall - art on the building. The possibility of leaving some of the books that are only used occasionally at school is not provided for reasons of space - there is no money for corresponding subjects.

Finally the first ring and the first break in the school yard. The newcomers stream excitedly towards the 15-minute freedom. But here, too, disillusionment: The school yard is paved, a fence (to protect against the secondary school students) reinforces the impression of confinement. Although the school parents' council and part of the college urgently pointed out alternative design options for the playground before the paving, this was unsuccessful. Despite intervention, despite the widely discussed project "Lower Saxony makes schools through moving schools" 1) (which advocates the sensory-activating design of schools), the paving was enforced and the field prepared for the sweeper. Planting is missing at first, but should be made up for by train and train or one or two generations of pupils later. A basketball hoop is available, but for status reasons it seems to be only available to sixth graders.

When my son comes home I ask him about the difference between the orientation level and elementary school. His short comment: "In elementary school we played during recess, now we're hanging out." "It's a shame," I think, "before the holidays he reported enthusiastically about the school". Anyone who thinks that the school administration is not concerned about the well-being of the students is wrong. The house rules that you have brought with you are available as evidence for your parents to see: "In order for the people in our house to feel comfortable and to be able to work together successfully, rules are necessary that are observed by everyone involved. ..."

In order not to be misunderstood: I am not one of the fathers who want to protect their royal children from everything that the school does to them, rightly or wrongly. For me, the child is not the icing on the cake of my biography and school is also not the hostile power that stretches out its octopus arms towards my child and demands rules from him. I am not interested in a fun school that is based on infotainment maxims and denies the children seriousness. It is clear to me that schools work and that their students have to adapt to the circumstances. The limits of adaptability are known to vary in different people. If the limit is exceeded, I read sentences like "Markus is not able to sit still and follow the course for 45 minutes in lesson drafts (that the video shop that his father runs is contributing to this is to be assumed)."

That such descriptions are to a great extent foolish cannot be further elaborated. Rather, I would like to focus on a blind spot in the education bureaucracy that is becoming increasingly important to me after countless visits to various schools. A pupil description according to the following pattern would also be conceivable: "The group of boys around Janosch is not able to sit still and follow the lesson for 45 minutes. I suspect that this is due to the limited exercise options and offers in the playground the too narrow classroom and the resulting frontal teaching. " Sentences like these are presumably sour and are therefore avoided by applicants. Instead of seeing the chance to look at the protagonists' reality at school from a different point of view and making changes to make teaching contexts easier for oneself, something threatening is thrown into the air.

In addition to repeatedly highlighted exceptions, the reality of ailing school buildings is concealed, in which the plaster falls from the walls and in which buckets are set up to catch the water dripping from the ceiling in the classroom. What is overlooked is the sadness of many schoolyards, which were also designed as evening parking spaces for the adjacent gym. The situation is rarely discussed that too many pupils fulfill their daily teaching duties in too small rooms with corresponding restrictions in didactic possibilities. The focus is not on gyms that are too small and that, due to double or triple occupancy, leave little room for movement for the children. Instead, the cultural authorities of the federal states confirm a large number of measures to improve the school. State-regulated teacher training, curricula and textbooks ensure a good school. All of this is under the control of the fewer and fewer school inspectors. In the opinion of the educational planners, school quality is guaranteed at a high level through this so-called input control.

That this assumption is incorrect has been known since the publication of the Tims Study (Third International Mathematics and Science Study) and the Pisa Study (Program for International Student Assessment). A look into the temple districts of school activity, which had been sacred until then, causes the plaster on the building to crumble, creating the illusion of German school quality. As a consequence, methods such as benchmarking and total quality management, with which Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank try to ensure the quality of their products, are now penetrating the world of education. Performance is measured, compared and reform pedagogues are "caught off guard" by the upcoming performance comparison studies. School programs are invented in endless conferences, the teaching hours are increased, Internet connections and computer rooms are sponsored and terms such as quality assurance are intended to ensure higher quality classes for student products. By the way: Many miss the fact that the quality requirements formulated by parents, teachers, education politicians, university professors and entrepreneurs are very different.

I look at the new situation with ambivalent feelings. Admittedly - no school functions without performance, but I ask myself whether, despite all the action, it is not overlooked that school quality does not just add up to performance. School quality also means that the Kosmos Schule shows its students a corresponding appreciation, which is expressed in appealing and sufficiently large rooms, playgrounds, gyms, offers outside of class, etc. School quality does not just mean guaranteeing the least possible loss of hours. School quality will also have to be judged according to the rooms in which, under which conditions, the lessons given by appropriately trained teachers who are not overloaded with the number of hours required. It makes sense that this is not available for free. If, however, investments are not made, even more parents join the bourgeois refugee movement, who buy the supposedly best education for their own offspring at private schools and leave the others behind.

In football, given the miserable playing fields, there will always be players who score goals after training that is hard and hard. However, it is clear that there will be far fewer goals than in the Schalke Arena. And finally: If you don't score goals, you will be relegated and have to eke out your life in one of the lower leagues. The first schools will soon arrive there. Unless ...