THE POLITICAL PAGE

June / July 2006

Focal Point - School

Due to such a comprehensive theme, we decided to edit a double issue again

A ‘walk' across the theme, an overview

Every human being in Europe has gone to school, and school attendance is compulsory. This characterises and marks the cultural environment in Europe as compared to some other countries in Africa and Asia. From a global point of view, this is a privilege because reading and writing opens the door for a new level of civilisation.

Illiterate cultures depend on one person relating with another as a means of passing on knowledge. Reading cultures enable an independent knowledge transfer; therefore, the development of a school system is a number one priority, a thing that poor countries try to accomplish with financial help from the World Bank, because today's world is a world of reading.

However, alongside compulsory school attendance, other things also make their mark on individuals. Whether you like it or not: In the first place, everybody assesses ‘school' through their own experiences. This immediately becomes obvious when people start sharing the experiences that they have had; almost exclusively these are experiences with teachers. Even though our education has become a matter of the past, everybody remembers the face and the personality of their teacher and what this person expected from us and how this person treated us. Since unfairness is a process which hurts, and hurts remain engraved in our memory; and since praise is like a ‘stroking touch‘ which is soon forgotten; we can safely say that throughout Germany, the relationship between adults and schooling is perceived as rather more negative than it is constructive .

In addition to this‚ the atmosphere of the school is also very important: was it a high standard school which you attended where success could only be achieved by diligence, or was it a dissolute school without discipline where you could hardly learn anything? Or was it even a school in which pupils threatened each other in an atmosphere of violence and aggression, an atmosphere dominated by menace and fear?

Some younger parents have their second experience with education when their children go to school and get through the system year after year. Bearing their own school experinces in their heart they listen to the brand new experiences of their children with teachers, at the dinner table - and they sympathize with them.

If their time at school was more of a tortururous time, then a protective instinct rises in the father and mother, an anger and the will to stop ‘this nonsense immediately.' A new relationship field emerges: Parents and teachers. Very often it is a tense relationship… because who would go to a parent-teacher conference or grab the telephone to praise or encourage a teacher? This happens during parent-teacher conferences from time to time, but then it has rather a strategic purpose, as a sweet coating for the bitter pill which follows.

All ‘members of the education system' have a third school experience; this experience is not necessarily a good one. As a new graduate of a college you are assigned to a school and there you are allotted a teacher, a mentor. There are good mentors and there are others… as everywhere. As a trainee teacher you try hard to learn the theory of the job at seminaries, and practically, through actual teaching.

Even though with fear and trembling, most young teachers are actually happy to switch from theory to practice, i.e. in these kinds of people there is still a potential which exists as a result of idealism, if not they wouldn't have chosen to become teachers. A single word of encouragement from the mentor, a little attention by the pupil, a short encouraging phonecall from a mother – and the trainee teacher will walk on cloud nine for the rest of the week.

After passing your 2nd exam, you need to prove yourself: ‘on your own‘ in the classroom. The subject materials are new, very often even the school and your colleagues are new; you are welcomed in a friendly manner – but you have to get along with things by yourself; and the first thing pupils do is - test the newcomers. Almost like a novice lion-tamer in a predator's cage; whoever is weak loses. In addition to this comes the fact that today children are no longer educated at home with the same values of respect, obedience, self-discipline etc. Because of this, parents can no longer handle their children at home and quite easily shift the responsibility for education i.e. the showing of limits, onto the teacher.

If one of them loses the new test, their idealism soon melts away and their self-esteem becomes more and more fragile; then teaching sessions become more and more miserable.

The hour of the parents has now come. At the beginning, arrows of criticism are hidden during the parent-teacher sessions and are directed more precisely after time, which tends to humiliate the insecure teacher in front of their colleagues who are present during these sessions. Things get around…

In time they may be able to cope, using rigorous, clinical methods, with a more distant relation to the pupil, and with a tendency to get bored with the subject material. Of course, this depends on the teacher‘s personallity, as well as their subject, the kind of school; whether it is a grammar school or a junior highschool, and also on the location of the school, the county, and many other circumstancial aspects .

The fact is that statistically, a large number of teachers retire early because they can no longer continue and they want ‘to enjoy life for at least a few years'. Glory to God, that there still are teachers who love to teach until the end of their career; but the figure is not very high (there are only 6% of people who persevere until the age of 65).

Theme: Focal Point - School

Covers:

  1. Subject material – are children learning enough?
  2. The German school system – PISA talks
  3. Pupils – what is their world?
  4. Parents – education today?
  5. Teachers – parent or partial ?
  6. The Church – ‘a happy Island‘

Subject material – are children learning enough?

Actually Germans have always been of the opinion, that when making a comparison with other nations, with regard to the subject ‘a thinking and poetic people', that they have always been in first place. Until the year 2000, before the PISA-Study appeared which was followed by a second one in 2003 and a third study after that. (PISA has nothing to do with the city in Italy, it is an abbreviation for 'Program for International Student Assessment'; a program for the assessment of students and pupils). In 2003, 250,000 15 year-old pupils from 41 countries were assessed. They tested their reading abilities, basic natural science skills, and mathematical skills (9 th Grade).

The result was deeply distressing, with a total of 487 points with regard to reading ability, Germany is below the average of 500 out of 41 industrial countries (OECD).

Finland is ranked first with 546 points, followed by Australia with 528 points, England with 523, Japan with 522, Sweden with 516, Austria with 507, the USA with 504 and Switzerland with 494 points.

When applying these benchmark tests on the individual federal states (counties), we got different results. Bavaria with 510 seemed to be ranked in the upper half, Baden-Wuerttemberg with 500, was the international average and the other states were ranked below the average. Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen were behind Portugal with 470 points.

Unfortunatelly, this shows that the achievements of German pupils have improved insignificantly from 2000 - 2005. There were many discussions regarding the source of this deplorable state of affairs.

1. “Education is not a cost factor, but an investment“, said Andreas Schleicher, and worked out the effort in education compared to the increase of interest in a bank account. Germany invests very little in education and this is why it is ranked at the end of this list.

Even though the number of students in Germany has increased from 28% to 36% since 1988, the average of other industrial countries is at 54%. Even the number of the college graduates has increased in Germany from 16 to 19.5% of a school year, but the average of the OECD-States is at 32.2%.

The number of academics in a school year is the most important reference figure for a school system of the 21st century. All futurologists forcast that the jobs which will be made available will require a high standard of qualification; especially regarding the shift of production type jobs to low income countries, the 'high qualification' factor gains more importance.

Regarding its investment in education, which amounts to a total of 4.4% of its gross national product, Germany is in twentieth place out of 28, compared with other industrial states (OECD). Denmark, Sweden and Belgium invest more than 6%. The average of the OECD is at 5.8%. Between 1995 and 2002 the costs for education regarding schools increased by 21% in these countries, in Germany it increased by a total of only 8%.

Beside that, we need to observe how Germany uses its means for education in universities and for vocational training compared to other states which invest their money in the education of children for the first few years through intensive caring, e.g. investment in language support.

2. In the Federal Republic education is a matter for the federal states.

This has not been questioned by the recent reform of federalism, instead it was encouraged. There is indeed a conference of the culture ministers on a federal level where agreements are made; but regarding the Federation, the supremacy of the federal states is regarded with jealousy. Thus, education plans, teaching targets, exams and the achieved level among the states are very different. PISA recently gave reasons for classifying the results of the federal states.

In all three area of competence (reading, natural science and maths) Bavaria is ranked first, followed by Baden-Wuerttemberg and Saxony (with one exception). At the end of the list, almost every time (in changing order): Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Bremen. The difference between Bavaria and Bremen is as much as one school year.

In the past five years since PISA, Poland has consistently implemented its insight by making changes and moving forward. Due to the ‘supremacy attitude‘ of the federal states, Germany is still at the outside of changes while important refoms – including the reform of federalism in education – are not carried out, say international analysts.

Excursus:

OstR (senior teacher at a secondary school, one rank above secondary school teacher) Joachim Alber developed a small personal study regarding the PISA-Material for the comparison of results in federal states which are presented here in short form.

Alber got to work on all the constitutions of the 16 federal states and put the main emphasis on Christian statements regarding education and educational goals, which were targeted to be achieved; he came to the conclusion that only 5 federal states were implementing them explicitly. These are the following: Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, North-Rhin Westphalia, the Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland. Article 12 in the constitution of Baden-Wuerttember says for example: ‘Youth are to be educated in the fear of the Lord, in the spirit of Christian love for their neighbours…'

Alber has now put the results of the 5 federal states in relation with those of other countries. As already mentioned, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg are always in the first three places and the other three states are never among the worst four states.

Alber has worked out the average of all the federal states, and the average of these five, and came to the conclusion, that in all tested areas, the five states together were ranked 5-10 points higher than the general average.

The reason for these striking facts may be that, in these states in the south and west, Lutheran and Catholic belief is still very active and alive in some areas, and that this is reflected in the agenda of the founder of the constitution, as sons of the federal states. There is a very clear and provable connection between the living faith of the population, and their achievement in schools.

This also explains why despite the lack of Christian teaching goals in the constitution, Saxony is always among the first three states; every expert of this scene knows how strongly Christian faith is lived in many places in Saxony.

Thus, the most important thing in a people is their living faith, even if it is not compiled in the constitution of the country – as it is in Saxony.

(The decisive fragments in the text of the constitutions of the countries can be found under www.beter-im-aufbruch.de.ve) 

3. The 3-fold school system

The reform of education regarding the school system with its junior high, secondary modern school, and grammar school has got completely bogged down in Germany.

In no other comparable country, are children classified for their future at the age of 10. As already seen – it is far to early to discover childrens‘ talents, particularly when we look at the subject of ‘early promotion‘ which is still at the very beginning in our country. All other countries keep their children together over a longer period of time but with more individual care, which provides more joy for teachers and increases the learning climate/motivation.

The national PISA-Study (10/2005) showed in addition, that in no other comparable country of the world, does the success in school depend so much on the income and the educational background of parents, as it does in Germany.

The German school system obviously supports the children of the upper class, and aims for an education of traditional elitisism, and does much towards reaching as many children as possible.

Now we could say less, and an elitist group provides more for a country then an average mass does. But in this context, the PISA result is no empirical confirmation; Bavaria, as the best federal state only achieves a slightly higher average in an international comparison.

The mass of educated people, with strong individual care and the teacher's personal enjoyment of work, seems to further the level of education of a people, including the elite, and thus a people as whole in order to equip them for a school system, which has been strongly influenced by the idea of the ‘survival of the strongest' which comes from the 19 th century.

The exclusivity of our German school system becomes obvious when we observe the children of immigrants. From nursery school onwards they need special language training. While the achievements of immigrant children throughout all industrially developed countries have improved with the duration of their parents' residence; in Germany however, their achievements are on the decline. Mastering the language of the country is, and remains a key to education.

40% of pupils of the second generation can not be integrated into professions. 19% of them even quit school without any degree of secondary modern schooling, i. e. without any perspectives for life. This means a higher potential outlet of violence due to despair, which is often discharged at school.

Final observation of the German school system which furthers differences.

In Hamburg and Berlin they made some attempts to change things by trying to introduce school uniforms, the same unifrom for everybody – it was a sweeping success. The differences between rich and poor disappeared; something which was always a focal point when trendy clothes were allowed to be worn. All of a sudden, the immigrants‘ children were integrated, and a new kind of a ‘we-feeling' came as a result of this; violence in school declined considerably. The attitude of pupils toward school and each other were changed by this change in external appearance. Why can't this successfull model be applied in general?

Pupils – what is their world?

Three sequences are mentioned.

1. Absent - mindedness

The electronic gadgets today enable an exposure to a constant stream of things we have never had before. Only radios or record players were used at home. Today you can listen to music by MP3-Player via ear plugs, during jogging through the forest, or in the bus. Where you used to just talk with your neighbour, the youngster of today types text messages or receives them.

This constant external input constantly hinders their own thoughts, hindering the processing of feelings which arise – be it through real situations or through electronic pictures – therefore it is important to stay ‘cool', i.e. to ‘nip feelings in the bud‘. This can lead step by step, to a ‘desert-place' of feelings or even to an absence of feelings, and a hardness of attitude.

Many have lost the ability to feel themselves, to take themselves seriously and to persevere. Instead of assimilation and maturisation, there comes suppression and superficiality. Absent-mindedness changes into a ‘must‘, as inner tension, and the sense of fear and empty feelings gets quite high.

For lessons in school this means that unrest and incompetence is characteristic of pupils from elementary school onwards.

2. Lack of education

Actually ‚er-ziehung' (the German word for education) is not a nice word because it has something to do with ‘ziehen' (i.e. pulling) and this tends to be a rather compulsory thing. In the English word ‘education' we can also hear the latin word which means 'to lead'. Thus the process is rather a ‘leading out' of immaturity into maturity. The nicest word is the Greek word: 'pedagogy' (pais 'the child', agogos 'leader'), i.e. it is about a conscious leading and guiding of the child.

Thus education needs older people (parents) who know what they want and are leading for the right reasons. This kind of leading means: firstly to have a target of where you want to go, and second, a limit where you can dare to say 'no' to things which don't lead toward this target. The cultural revolution of 1968 has made parents unsure as to whether it is good to educate children, or to allow them to develop independently from the very beginning; being without the intervention of adults on the one hand, and on the other hand regarding values which can be used in a modern way of education.

Thus the contents and the leading forces of education have got lost – and this leaves its mark on the pupils of today. Contents which were very normal in the past, such as the appreciation of authority and the willingness to accept their instructions, and respect for the dignity of surrounding people; also on the other hand, the dignity of fellow pupils, the vulnerable, matters of self-discipline, diligence etc. are unknown to children today.

Children who are even more insecure then those insecure through the absence of values, are children without education due to the absence of relationships. Because each part of education, is first of all the establishment of relationship. Children who are allowed to do whatever they want, become more and more aggressive, in order to hear the 'no' and the ‘you' of the teacher. Even though they are rebellious and go berserk, the limit of ‘no' is still the security of proximity and supremacy, which causes friction but at the same time offers an orientation and a support, which a child needs for life.

For many – especially for the pupils of secondary modern schools – school is a substitute for the home where there is often no relationship, because the teacher sets limits and still loves them.

3. Mental detritus

What children assimilate by electronic means without any control, are picture ‘values' which wrongly ‘mark their souls‘. TV, internet, video games, DVDs, mobiles…

The main shows of:

•  violence and

•  pornography

Under these circumstances, the perception of peoples‘ values change; taboos, for example, like not kicking a person who lies on the ground.

And also the perception of relationship between man and woman changes, and this is reduced to sex in all its forms. How can a youngster discern between the virtual and the real world now? Given that they spend a large part of their time in the virtual world instead of living consciously in the real world.

The result is violence

All three factors produce pent-up aggression.

•  the missing possibility of dealing with feelings of shock, due to immediate stimulating currents,

•  the lack of limits and the perceived lack in relationships,

•  the proximity and the hardening of attitudeagainst victims of violence due to pictures from the virtual world and the resulting shift of coordinates of inner values.

The events in Berlin-Kreuzberg at the Rütli School are an unprecedented proof for the direction of atmosphere in our schools. Federal states like Baden-Wuerttemberg for example have responded; they decided on a cooperation between the Home, Social and Education Ministries. A ‘contact office for prevention of violence' has been established which is currently led by two pedagogues who have a lot of experience (both are christians). People are advised and connected to 70 advisers around the country, and they receive information regarding general questions in connection with this subject. (www.gewaltpraevention-bw.de).

Locally, ‘round tables' were established, projects were instigated from these, such as for example the training of pupils from all kinds of schools to become ‘conflict pilots'. These were not only ‘stable' pupils but also thug types, who consciously wanted to learn how to solve conflicts without violence, immigrant children were especially included in this program.

Another initiative by parents concerning the prevention of violence - which is run by christians - is called ‘Freunde üben Rücksicht e.V.' (friends are considerate). These groups were invited to help throughout the country, and were awarded publicly for their work by the Prime Minister of the Baden-Wuerttemberg, Günther Öttinger.

A clear spiritual approach was cleverly implemented by initiators in pedagogy and profession .
E-mail: fuer@gmx.de, Tel 07453-91134)

Parents – education today?

The problems caused by insecure parents have already been seen, who themselves due to their ‘education' don't know whether, and toward which target they should educate their children. Very often they are completely helpless regarding their children, so they hope that school will teach them social manners, i.e. they project the parents‘ educational duty onto teachers.

Of course, school also has a clear duty to educate them, but in the context of knowledge transfer and not as it happens at home when living together as a family. But since there is little ‘living together‘ in homes today, education happens primarly in the sense of shaping character through imitation; there are two conclusions we can reach at the moment.

•  On the one hand there is a great need for permanent and comprehensive courses of help for parents regarding questions about education for all age groups; courses have to be accompanied by talks throughout (TÜV'), and for a certain period of time afterwards. The knowledge of how to educate children can no longer be assumed.

•  On the other hand, given the pedagogical deficit on the parents side, the schools can not get around the problem of not being able to spend more time with pupils during holidays, mealtimes and homework tutoring sessions. Of course a role model is needed for this, also teachers have to volunteer for this work, and after lessons - like every employee - they are tired.

There are parents who don't want to make use of these courses for their children. Therefore, it shouldn't be compulsory. But for many children – single children, latchkey children, immigrant children, negelected (social) children etc. – school could become a home and not just a place where information is passed on to them, a place where you belong to (for example, beginning with the wearing of uniforms) and a place where you could learn how life works, and how living with others could be successful.

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This service should not be available after 4.00 p.m. order to have enough time for individual leisure activities in clubs and in churches, as well as for care given by the children's parents as the main persons in their lives.

This entire program, which is being discussed under ‘programmatic pressure' as whether it should be a ‘full-time day school or not' should be sorted out as soon as possible and pertinently thought through. Asking the questions - what does this city need? And what is possible when considering the financial means of the city?

The teacher – parent or partial ?

Given the dreadful state of education and teaching in our culture, teachers (50% are female) are given special importance. At the same time the image of the profession is so bad in society that they are not really considered to be able to ‘save the nation'.

PISA proves that in an international comparison of industrially developed countries, the average age of teachers in Germany is far too high, which is due to the employment policy of the state. Too many teachers were employed in the ‘70s, and after noticing this, radical cut cutbacks were made in jobs. In 2001, 45% of teachers in elementary schools were over the age of 50; the average in other OECD countries reached approx. 27%.

Although, compared to the OECD countries, teachers in Germany are paid the highest salaries, the level of satisfaction with their profession is very low. This is surely due to the fact that one in three teachers suffer from ‘burn-out' and only 6% carry out their profession until the age of 65.

International analysts also criticize the civil service in Germany, because it safeguards instead of ‘spurring on‘ teachers. They suggest monitoring the achievements of teachers in future.

All this means very little to those who are of the opinion that teachers are lazy (only 29 actual teaching hours, long holidays, steady employment, and a guaranteed pension until death in addition).

In this context, the warning given by education ministers after PISA, regarding the ‘loss of face of the teaching profession, which will become even worse' is not surprising.

And indeed the future of our culture depends on the dignity and the appreciation of this profession; the men and women of tomorrow are shaped by teachers and educators. If teachers are motivated, they will be able to motivate their students; if they merely endure their hours and years, students will do the same. Other countries woke up after the PISA reports and moved forward; Germany will be at the back end of things if improvements take as along as they took in the past 5 years (due to structural ‘brakes‘).

Almost 50% of current teachers will retire in the next 10 years. A new, young generation of teachers will rise up. Will they help Germany to make progress? It depends on the level of their motivation.

And who motivates the teachers?

As shown in the beginning: mainly students and parents. Christian parents should start to notice all the achievements of young teachers, and show their appreciation to them. Parents can also encourage their children to tell the teacher what they think, what they think they did right, or to just say good bye before they go on holiday, and – if they're honest – say ‘thank you'. The New Testament warns us to honour teachers (Heb. 13 v. 17 in the context of the church).

A new culture of encouragement needs to be re-installed in our schools. Parents, teachers and students - as Christians should start this.

A change in the 3-fold school system will not happen too soon in Germany. And it is even more improbable that states will give their educational control into the hands of the federations. However, the climate and the atmosphere in schools can be changed by the power of prayer and praise.

The Church – ‘a happy Island‘

If the church - the main service, the choir, the youth ministry - is a protected place where a believers‘ own faith can be realized among those with the same convictions, then this means that it is something like a ‘happy island‘. What is school then? metaphorically speaking, it is like the open sea. This is the testing place, right? The observation makes us thoughtfull: students are ready to witness for Jesus in the church and in the youth ministry, but at school they make themselves scarce. They are the ‘sleepers', the ‘submarine Christians'.

All church members between the ages of 6 and 14, and also a large part of the 18 year old youngsters go to school after time at church. They spend a large part of their time there – much more time than they spend in their church. Therefore it is logical that when it comes to living by faith, young Christians first of all have to show their life with Jesus in their daily school life, to have experiences there and to put their faith into practice there, in friendships, with honesty, with boldness, with courage, and to participate wisely in talks and discussions. It is hard to do this alone. How does the church help them in this situation?

Answer: it could help. But rarely do church leaders or leaders of youth ministries consider school to be a church task. It could be easy. The leadership of both church and youth ministries should talk together about who to send to schools, for prayer with students, and to run a bible reading circle.

There are many things which could be done, for example how to start and lead a SBC (Student Bible Circle). The SBC‘s were part of the first Christian groups amongst professionals. If such a circle goes public, it is astonishing to see how Christians from all classes start to show up. Only two – four young Christians are needed, those who dare to step out, and therefore leaving less weight of responsibility concerning education for the church.

This is also true for the teachers of a church; they could also be sent consciously into schools backed up by prayer.

And the other professions? Well done! Finally the church is beginning to understand what its mission looks like today. Not in having many meetings, but first of all in spiritual release and in the sending out of church members as messengers for Jesus in their workplaces.

But let us stick to the pedagogical area and the opportunities for the church today.

Schools today are more open then ever for offers of help from outside. What help could a church offer to schools for their project days?

‚Mütter in Kontakt e.V.' offers support for mothers, who want to pray together for their children‘s school (E-Mail: ostertag@zgs.de, Tel: 07031-8176800).

What a great chance for mothers in churches today, those who are willing to look after the children of other mothers who work; they can make contact through mothers and children. This is a ‘market' for the future because demographically until 2020 we will run into a world where an economy without work capacity for women can no longer survive. Thus the Lord establishes bridges for the gospel from person to person.

This same rule aplies for the day-care facilities for the maintenence of churches – Kitas, which are strongly supported at the moment. No church has the right to complain about those who practice the occult in schools, in nursery schools, or in day-care facilities, if it has done nothing practically to stem this problem; for example, like encouraging Christians and releasing them in order to work on focal problems like these.

Once more, it is a social state of emergency when parents no longer know the most simple rules of education. The motivation to learn is great, even for Christians. Why not work together with the adult education centres under the leading of a teacher from the church and the cooperation of capable parents in order to offer courses to needy parents?

It is not the duty of the church to be salt merely in a salt cellar, but to reach out to society, the neighbourhood, the schools, at work and win people there for Jesus, then the atmosphere at work will change. Also the atmosphere within a church group will change considerably if ‘sending out into the world‘ is understood this way and put into practice.

PRAYER

Objective: To not leave the schools of our country to the spirit of anarchy.

1. Step: Gratefullness

•  We thank God for the centuries-old established education possibilites in our country.

•  We give thanks for the faithful daily work of teachers with our children.

•  We thank God for our youth, for being allowed to have them, for their abilities and many gifts, for their honest willingness to learn.

•  We thank God for the willingness of parents to back up their children‘s teachers, to ‘stand in the gap‘ for the good of 'their' school, for being active in school committees, the national parents council, and other similar bodies.

2. Step: Repentance

How do we want to pray for schools and teachers if our backpack is still full of grudges against certain teachers from our own time at school and we share those problems at any time with other people?

It is time to forgive those persons before God, and to put the backpack aside at the cross of Jesus, the reconciliator.

3. Step: Pleading

•  Germany is really in danger of be at the back end of education compared with other industrially developed countries (the issues are: the supremacy of the states, the 3-fold school system, few investments, wrong investments).
We pray for a high level of awareness for all the politicians in charge, at every level.

•  Let us pray for all desperate parents, who don't know how to deal with their children, to receive the right advice at the right time and in the right place.
Let us pray for teachers and parents to help each other in education, and to be against any internal conflicts.

•  Let us pray for all discouraged students to be encouraged again by someone for life, and for them to persevere and not give up.

•  Let us pray for all the frustrated students who have a high level of aggression, for them to meet loving people who can help stop their aggression. Let us pray for students at the secondary modern schools and for immigrant children, especially those who lack perspective for life.

•  Let us pray for teachers to be motivated day by day to work with young people, for assertiveness and authority, for a spirit of power, love and discipline.

•  Let us pray for a new spirit of encouragement and praise in our schools – a thing we as Germans are not used to at all – which is actually a premise for learning.

•  Let us pray for bible circles amongst students, for the groups from ‘Mütter in Kontakt,'
for the ‘prevention against violence‘ initiatives from both state and private sources.

•  Let us pray urgently for an awakening of churches as individual groups, for their opportunities and their responsibilities in local schools.

4. Step: Blessing

We proclaim the name of Jesus over the whole school situation in Germany.

We bless the politicians of the Federations and States, the teachers, and the students each new day.

We bless the parents to educate with wisdom and love.

We bless the whole country with the Holy Spirit, the great heavenly pedagogue, because he is called the ‘comforter and helper' and he is the one who ‘teaches us everything and who is leading us into all truth'. Yes, come Holy Spirit!

Ortwin Schweitzer

-Senior teacher ret.-

Sources: OECD, PISA and IGLU study; Statistisches Taschenbuch des Statistisches Landesamtes BW; Berliner Zeitung 16.5.06; Tagesspiegel 16.5.06; Rheinischer Merkur Nr. 19 vom 11.5.06; Willownetz Nr. 02.06.

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