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Diversity through Participation: How Student Participation Can Help Schools Manage Diversity Effectively

Working Group Report

The working group examined how student participation in school development processes can help schools manage diversity effectively. The participants learned which factors contribute to successful participatory cultures and discussed how all students, regardless of their origins, abilities, and social status, can take responsibility for themselves and their schools.

Andrea Blaneck led the working group with contributions by

  • Karin Schreibeis of the Ganztägig Lernen service agency, Berlin, and the German Children and Youth Foundation (DKJS)
  • Sandra Christall, social education worker at the Hermann Hesse High School, Berlin

Karin Schreibeis: “Participation is not yet one of our fortes”

In many cases this statement is simply not true. In the first part of the workshop, participants were made aware of the specific situations in which they already involve children and young people in everyday routines. Afterward they looked at the forms of participation that are well suited for heterogeneous groups. In the third part of the workshop, the “class council” was introduced as an effective participatory instrument for children and young people. Finally, the participants discussed which ideas they wanted to put into practice in their everyday work.

The Class Council

“The class council is the place where students organize their lives together. They discuss and make decisions on matters of importance, plan and carry out activities, argue and make up. All the things that occur among members of any class outside lessons are on the class council’s agenda. The class council thus leads to a more conscious coexistence, promotes the class community, and creates a positive learning environment” (http://www.derklassenrat.de/).

Using the example of the class council, Sandra Christall explained which factors and conditions are crucial for successful student participation (e.g., a one-hour class council meeting each week) as well as the challenges that must be met (e.g., how to deal with disruptions of the class council meetings).

Contact

Diana Dressel
Head of Education Department
T +49 (0)30 259 93 515
d.dressel@jmberlin.de

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