Handling freedom and learning to take responsibility

For a child to handle freedom is difficult. There are some students that have more difficulties to do it than others that are better structured inside. At the Freie Aktive Schule Stuttgard (FAS) all of them learn step by step what it means to take responsibility with the teachers supporting this process and developing the role of coaches. In this interview we talk to Gaby, one of the headmasters of the FAS, and Germaine, tutor and coach for english lessons.

A typical day at the FAS starts with the morning circle. The children have four offers (activities) a day, in which they can participate, or do whatever they feel they want to do. These offers are usually specific for age groups but there are also others that are opened to different ages. Normally the children are naturally grouped by age because emotional development (they usually like to be a part of a group where they already have a role).

The children can give up activities at any time. If this behaviour is repeated, the adults have to take a look to the reasons, they speak to them and try to find the “why”.

The children themselves propose activities, trips, exhibitions… The teacher looks into the possibilities of doing those activities. In the beginning of the school year, in September, the parents, the teachers and the students come up with ideas and plan the year in a big screen. For example, “These year we want to learn an ancient language!” and then the school looks for somebody to help the students doing it.

The great outside area it’s not only just an “outdoor space” it is also a learning space and a crucial part of the school. For the children the movement is really important and the learning process is more efficient if the children are relax. This area helps them to play and release energy.

Apart from the outside area, the school has a big gym, learning arrangements for different age groups, projects rooms, creative studio for wood work, kitchens where they can cook and bake, the music room, rooms for coaching with the students where they can talk about conflicts and quiet rooms to relax and to read.

Talking about media, one great challenge is to manage the use of smartphones and technology by the students. The teachers want the children to work with the hands and not to be in the virtual world until the age of 12.

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