3,000 participants at the 8th “Moved Childhood” congress.

The “Moved Childhood” congress, organised as a joint collaboration between the University of Osnabruck and the Niedersächsisches Institut für frühkindliche Bildung und Entwicklung (nifbe)

3,000 participants at the 8th “Moved Childhood” congress.

For the 3,000 participants, Osnabruck Town Hall will play host to a programme containing more than 150 talks, seminars and workshops over three days.

In the spotlight at this year’s congress is the subject of inclusion, that is the right for all children to grow up and learn together in nursery and primary school. Vice-president of the University of Osnabruck, Prof. Dr. May-Britt Kallenrode, uses her greeting to urge for political discussions concerning early childhood education not to focus solely on the number of available places, but to also discuss the quality and the need to offer every child the same educational opportunities. In Lower Saxony she stressed that nifbe is an “important and nationwide networked instrument” that could be used, for example, to ensure that new research results and innovative qualification approaches are put into practice.

Variety as chance and resource

The Lower Saxony Minister of Science Dr. Gabriele Heinen-Kljajic used her welcoming speech to call for variety to be seen as “chance and resource”. She highlighted the goal of the new Lower Saxony state government to make “inclusion in the early childhood educations the rule rather than the exception. To this end we will be creating a legal basis for an inclusive nursery. We want to work together with the various responsible bodies, the scientific community and the institutions to achieve our goal of better configuring our day nurseries and kindergarten to meet the individual needs of the children. All children, whether they have a disability or not, should go to nursery facilities together and grow up together.” She praised the congress as a “success story” which demonstrates both in theory and in practice what is most important in the first years of our children’s lives: “The body with its movements and sensory perceptions forms the basis of all learning and educational processes.”

Against excessive intellectual demands and pressure to perform

Congress head Prof. Dr. Renate Zimmer singled out the opportunities presented by exercise with regard to the subject of inclusion: “Exercise is particularly well suited to act as an access point for all sorts of children – irrespective of their cultural background and social origin, irrespective of their developmental and learning conditions.” She was particularly critical of the increasing emphasis placed on higher intellectual achievements and a rising pressure to perform as early as primary school and emphasised, “in the classroom it’s not just the head but the whole child that sits there with all the resources and requirements.”

For a “humane” education

With precisely this in mind, Prof. Dr. Julian Nida-Rümelin verified a “curious one-sided approach to our concept of education and educational practice,” during his lecture. Instead of enabling children to become “thinkers in their own right”, the emphasis is placed on “passive receptivity” and the accumulation of knowledge. The former Minister of State for Culture outlined his views on a “humane educational system, which is fair to all people,” by referencing philosophical classics such as Plato or Aristotles. Aside from exercise, music, art and the cultural techniques such as reading, writing and numeracy, this model would also offer enough room for “independent thinking” and “developing points of view”. He was strong in his desire to clearly differentiate this model from one where the goal is purely to attain results such as profitability or personal success: “not everything is suitable as a means to an end.” A deciding factor for happiness and satisfaction in life is an “intrinsic” motivation that comes from within. Nida-Rümelin challenged policy makers to indeed grant education priority, as it is actually Germany’s resource. To the amazement of those attending, he calculated that compared to 1977 and measured against GNP, €35 billion less is invested in education – and this despite rapidly risen requirements, in particular in the early childhood sector.


 

<< back