Guidelines and Principles
APEGO-Schule Berlin is aligned with Human Rights, with the fundamental values of equality, freedom and participation as well as the humanist conception of man. “Apego” means relationship in both Spanish and Portuguese. Work on relationships enjoys a high status in our school and is seen as a requirement for education.
Article 1 of the German constitution states that “human dignity is inviolable”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations states that “All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” At APEGO-Schule Berlin we respect the equal dignity of all people, children in particular.
Children have the right to grow up with equal dignity and free from violence, to a self-directed life and education and also to participation in the organization of their school. The APEGO-Schule Berlin respects and guarantees these rights. Decisions about the daily business are made using sociocracy.
Children are competent, curious by nature and they want to learn. They need empathetic and devoted companions as well as a safe and prepared environment which facilitates independent living and learning.
We understand learning as a self-directed, self-determined, vivid and continuous process in life, which enables the discovery of one’s own interests, abilities and potential and thus leads to the development of potential and self-efficacy. At APEGO-Schule Berlin we focus on strengths. Informal learning occurs at all times and everywhere and is recognized and valued in our school.
Children need reliable and dedicated relationships to participate in dialogue and to be treated respectfully in a way that their needs are taken into account. The capacity for empathy forms the basis of nonviolent co-existence. APEGO-Schule Berlin promotes humanity and nonviolent conflict resolution. Its sociocratic structure takes all participants into account and fosters trust, security and a sense of responsibility for the community.
APEGO-Schule Berlin stands for tolerance and diversity in practice, which is recognized and supported by an attitude of curiosity and openness. A “school for all” in the sense of inclusion and intercultural communication. Our ethos enables each child to display his/her individual potential in his/her own time and as a multilingual and intercultural meeting place facilitates the development of individual identity in the so-called “third cultural space”.
APEGO-Schule Berlin is connected to similar educational projects worldwide both on- and offline, especially in the realm of Latin American culture but also in the surrounding urban area. Participating families and staff members therefore have access to an extensive intercultural meeting space. We see the whole world as a place for learning and appreciate the use of digital media for communication.
Interculturality and Multilingualism
APEGO-Schule Berlin sees itself as an intercultural meeting place, which on the one hand supports German-Latin American children in the process of finding their own identity and on the other hand makes the experience of other cultures possible, leading to intercultural sensitivity. Only by experiencing a new culture with all the senses is it possible to engage with it adequately and openly and to avoid misunderstandings. This conscious and at the same time protected engagement with the “space between” holds enormous potential for students in preparation for intercultural challenges in a global and complex world. Intercultural competences broaden horizons and also foster sensitivity regarding other aspects of diversity. People who can experience different cultures find it easier to take on and empathize with other perspectives.
In addition to intercultural competences, command of different languages is a helpful way of entering a multicultural environment. Other cultures are accessed more easily through language, which helps developing a better understanding of cultural norms and “unwritten rules”. Most people in the world grow up speaking more than one language. Learning different languages simultaneously comes easily to children if the languages are readily available.
At APEGO-Schule Berlin, languages are learnt by “diving in at the deep end”, thanks to a team made up of German, Spanish and Portuguese speakers in equal proportions. So-called immersion learning uses the natural aptitude of children to develop language skills independently. To this end, students must first of all experience the language over a long enough period. Secondly, discovery of language must be connected to the child’s overall experience. Only by immediately connecting what is heard with actions and situations can the child learn to understand a foreign language and ultimately to speak it. Language must therefore be an integral part of the child’s everyday routine and form a direct relationship with the child’s experience.
The introduction of folklore and other traditional elements from Latin American culture is a further aspect of bringing Latin American culture to life and making Spanish and Portuguese accessible and also turning the APEGO-Schule Berlin into a meeting place, where students’ families are also welcome and can feel at home.
Sociocracy and Participation
APEGO-Schule Berlin is organized sociocratically. Sociocracy is based on equal dignity, mutual understanding and a common search for solutions. This form of organization allows all members of the community to self-organize.
“Apego” means relationship in Latin American languages. This comes into being when people feel secure and acknowledged and have their needs fulfilled. Satisfaction of fundamental needs is a basic requirement for becoming involved in relationships and for developing trust.
The identity of APEGO-Schule Berlin is shaped by paying attention to the needs and interests of all parties involved. Sociocracy is the logical conclusion of our attitude. Sociocracy is understood as a “Plus” , i.e. an extension of democracy. It takes individual needs into account, yet maintains a focus on the community. At APEGO-Schule Berlin, teachers and students alike take on the tasks of self-government. Work belongs in the individual circles and work groups as well as jobs related to the daily upkeep of the school.
This diagram is in German, English version will follow.
Within the sociocratic framework of the APEGO-Schule Berlin, children learn about, experience and live different forms of decision making, e.g. systemic consensus, sociocratic decision making via moderated consent and also the best known and most used – democratic decision making. When conflicts arise, we plan to use negotiation and mediation based on Nonviolent Communication (Marshall Rosenberg), so that everyone’s needs are taken into account.
The sociocratic structure of APEGO-Schule Berlin makes it possible for children to draw up and alter rules which apply to living together. The effects of altered and generally applicable rules are felt directly and can be immediately validated. This also applies to the decision making process itself, so that the children can develop a distinctive sense of responsibility for themselves and for the community. Students and other stakeholders at APEGO-Schule Berlin know that they can use the structure of circles to implement matters which are personally important to them, such as the purchase of certain materials or the layout of a classroom. By sitting in circle discussions, students can learn to speak in public, to express themselves effectively and to value their own opinions and present them convincingly. By taking account of individual needs, decisions which affect the community are more readily accepted than rules created by majority decision or even imposed from above.
Self-directed Education and Development of Potential
As a school in the Federal State of Berlin, the educational goals set out in Sections 1 and 3 of the Federal School Act of 15 January 2004 apply to us.
APEGO-Schule Berlin sets out to support learning to the optimal extent as an intercultural meeting space, so that students can develop their individual potential sustainably and effectively in an integrated learning process. We realize this goal through a child centered pedagogy, where we create a prepared environment for the student. We see our task as perceiving the students in their individual development, facilitating the fulfillment of their needs through particular experiences and also providing them with a learning space in which they can feel secure and accepted. We strive to create security through reliability and friendly relationships.
At APEGO-Schule Berlin, we regard people as intrinsically motivated beings, who want to learn, develop and flourish. We see children as of equal dignity and regard them as competent. Our stance with regard to the child is one of goodwill, openness and curiosity. In our eyes, learning can only be sustainable and effective if it is self-directed. The child is the subject of his/her own development; the teacher acts as companion and supporter, creating a framework of trust and security within which each child can grow as an individual.
APEGO-Schule Berlin’s understanding of learning is influenced by various traditions of progressive education as well as recent findings of neuro- and developmental psychology. Learning is understood as a self-directed, self-determined, continuing life process, which enables the discovery of one’s own interests, abilities and potential and therefore facilitates sustained self-development and self-efficacy. Students decide for themselves what, where, how and with whom they learn. For us, education requires relationships. Without trust, self-development is not possible; without self-determination there is no motivation; without intrinsic motivation – no sustainability; without relationships – no education; without education – no self-efficacy. Children want to be autonomous and to learn in this way.
In order to do justice to children’s learning needs and to bring about such an individually focused and needs-orientated learning environment, we focus on individual self-directed, child-orientated learning and also on small groups. All this takes place in an intercultural meeting space and in a prepared environment. Students have access to a wide range of learning methods. At APEGO-Schule Berlin, students also have an opportunity to be in the open air and to run around as they wish.