"History teachers, biologists and geographers have always gone out into the world"

Martin Stein © private source

Martin Stein © private source

Prof. Martin Stein from Münster University’s Centre for Teacher Education on learning and teaching in public places / Registration begins in April

Researchers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland will be meeting in Münster from September 16 to 19 to discuss the subject of learning and teaching in public places. The conference, organized by the University Centre for Teacher Education (ZfL), will be looking at the question of designing lessons and seminars outside schools and universities. Registrations for participation can be made April. In advance of the conference, Kathrin Nolte spoke to Prof. Martin Stein , Educational Director of the ZfL, about the challenges relating to teacher training at the University, teaching-practice centres and educational facilities.

Learning is something that takes place not only in school but also, increasingly, in museums, theatres or labs for schoolchildren. What is the aim of this conference entitled "Researching. Learning. Teaching in Public Places - The Wider View"?
The conference aims to stimulate an interdisciplinary dialogue on theoretical approaches to learning and teaching in public places, and on practical ways of implementing them, with the dialogue taking place primarily between three groups: representatives from teaching training at universities, the teacher-training centres, and schools. Didactics cannot be seen in isolation from the subjects themselves - which is why, to get the wider perspective, we include the views of the individual subjects with their specific expertise. This means, for example, that the subject of 'excursions' can be addressed by both subject teachers and educationalists among geographers or biologists. So the content of the conference is correspondingly wide-ranging and will be including not only talks, but also workshops involving everything from the Natural Sciences to the Humanities and Art.

From an academic point of view, how can public places of learning be meaningfully integrated into school lessons or university teaching?
Integrating public places of learning into teaching at schools and universities always makes sense wherever it supports the process of researching or investigating 'natural places'. History teachers, biologists and geographers, to name just three examples, have always gone out into the world. By using GPS or QR codes on buildings, public places can be enriched with information in virtual space, thus widening the range of what can be learned.

What challenges does this produce for teacher training?
The government of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has incorporated content relating to out-of-school learning and to collaboration with partners outside schools into its core curricula for junior level at grammar schools. They are currently being brought up to date. However, the subject is nothing new for teacher training at Münster. An example of this is the "Mathbridges" project at Münster University in which, in collaboration with twelve international partner universities, a team of lecturers and students of the didactics of mathematics - headed by Prof. Stanislaw Schukajlow-Wasjutinski - have developed real-life estimation tasks involving twelve bridges from all over the world. This project is an excellent example of how to combine the promotion of mathematical skills with work carried out in public places.

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