Bright Horizons for Teacher Training
With 3.68 million euros in funding, four sub-projects projects, four new structural measures and 21 new posts, WegE (Wegweisende Lehrerbildung. Entwicklung reflexiver Kommunikationsprozesse) is a large-scale project that promises to have a lasting impact on the University of Bamberg’s teacher training programmes. The project is part of the so-called “teacher training quality offensive” initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The Bamberg initiative has made it its goal to continue to advance teacher training programmes and meet the rising demand for skills-oriented, individualised learning and guidance in schools. On 14 April, the four-year project was officially launched in a ceremony which took place in the University of Bamberg’s historic assembly hall.
The WegE project was designed to combine and utilise the university’s core focus on the humanities, its advanced expertise in educational sciences and its specific focus on professional education. “We want to align teacher training with the university’s strengths in order to form the schools of tomorrow,” explained Professor Annette Scheunpflug, chair of the department of education. She and Barbara Drechsel, Professor of psychology in schools and education, are the project’s spokespersons, and the two were in charge of introducing the four sub-projects at the WegE kick-off.
KulturPLUS, the first of the four focus areas, is concerned with creating joint events and modules aimed at introducing prospective teachers to the vast potential of the university’s subject fields in the humanities. The first series of KulturPLUS lectures, Klasse Klassiker (First-class Classics), begins this summer semester and is dedicated to exploring the relevance of classic literature in the lives of contemporary secondary school pupils. The Combined Educational Science (BilVer) project is geared towards moving the teaching of content dealing with educational psychology away from its current disciplinary and departmental focus by emphasising a more occupationally-oriented approach based directly on school and education topics.
The BERA project is working on the creation of a guidance competence centre that will incorporate components like continuing education courses for teachers and university seminars designed to provide training in guidance and counselling for both pupils and parents. The fourth project, known as BeBi, will focus on strengthening the academic profiles of professional education degrees in the fields of social education and economics and business education.
These projects will be supported by four structural measures put in place to develop a special teacher training subject division, to systematically provide advanced training courses and additional qualifications, and to create an education and internet platform for all internal and external project partners. All of these processes – and this is the fourth structural measure – will undergo a quality control and planning coordination process that will measure the ongoing success of WegE.
“A community’s sustainability is not indifferent to the quality of the teachers in its schools!” said University President Godehard Ruppert. “Learned knowledge alone is not enough to make someone a teacher – simply acquiring knowledge doesn’t suffice. We must demand more from the education of our teachers, and that’s why universities are just the place for their training; that’s why teaching programmes must continue to be reviewed and redesigned.” As the head of the Bamberg Centre for Teacher Training and chair of the department of school education Professor Sibylle Rahm pointed out, this means that effective cooperation is required among all instructors engaged in teacher training. She elaborated on this point, explaining, “Virtually every university member involved in teacher training is also involved in WegE. This allows for constructive cooperation between specialist disciplines, teaching departments and the educational sciences.”
As guest speaker Professor Cornelia Gräsel made clear in her speech, this kind of cooperation is not only beneficial to prospective teaching students. The professor at the University of Wuppertal’s Institute of Educational Research and deputy chairperson of the quality offensive’s selection committee explained that pupils’ skills and enthusiasm for learning are significantly influenced by their teacher – and by that teacher’s capacity to inspire pupils to think for themselves, to encourage pupils individually and to maintain control of the classroom. Gräsel emphasised that “because teachers are among a school’s most important success factors, university teaching programmes not only need to be reinforced institutionally, but they must also be conceived and designed in occupationally relevant, skills-oriented ways in order to train experts in learning.”
This press release was translated by Benjamin Wilson.