HomeWorldEducation researchers about Corona: "We are no further" | free press

Education researchers about Corona: “We are no further” | free press

The next wave could come after the summer break. Schools can face new problems without knowing how big the old ones are, says education researcher Marcel Helbig. In an interview with Manuela Müller, he explains what he demands and would do now to master the next school year.

The next wave could come after the summer break. Schools can face new problems without knowing how big the old ones are, says education researcher Marcel Helbig. In an interview with Manuela Müller, he explains what he demands and would do now to master the next school year.

Free press: Mr Helbig, many students have passed Abis excellently despite two years of Corona school. A lot actually.

Marcel Helbig: School is completely questioning that: in the Corona period we have the best high school diploma of all time in some states.

Bayern, for example: 2.14.

Thuringia: 2.06, close to the cut ones. It is obvious that parameters are being shifted and that this has consequences for high school graduation.

How is that possible?

through mitigations. For example, instead of two subjects, you can choose from four subjects for the exam. So I have to prepare intensively for fewer subjects. In some states, the rules for calculating the Abitur figures have changed.

That sounds like the political pressure around corona-related learning disadvantages isn’t particularly high.

Scientifically we are not one step further. So far, there has been no new research on learning disabilities. Everything present only relates to the first lockdown. Some outline very large learning gaps after the first lockdown, some find almost nothing.

What does that mean?

That these are all just statistical parameters. Two or four months behind schedule, that’s all abstract.

That is why there will be tests for learning skills in Saxony next school year.

The surveys will identify how many students are missing important basic skills. But there were children who already suffered from this before Corona.

What to do now during the holidays?

First I would like to know how dangerous Corona is for which age group at school. As a father, after more than a year with Corona, I feel totally misinformed. It is only talked about by children and young people as a whole. If toddlers don’t get seriously ill and all educators have the opportunity to get vaccinated, then I won’t be able to close a daycare in the next wave, for example. If elementary school students are not at risk, but high school students are, then I must first install the air filters in high schools. I expect answers to such questions from the Federal Ministry of Health and the subordinate authorities. Otherwise we have debates about school closures and air filter installation with insufficient information.

Do you need guidelines for binding online classes?

We didn’t finish this discussion last school year. From a certain age, video lessons should be made mandatory to some extent. This can also be a short video conference to connect with the class. For primary school students, alternating classes and absence from school should be avoided. However, you can only assess whether this is feasible if you know the risk situation among primary school students.

What do you think of the curriculum cuts, some of which are taking place?

As soon as it becomes concrete what you should leave out, you run into problems: can school material be dispensed with in political education? Which era in history is not so important? Some things are not relevant for the exam, but important for life. Many decisions remain with the teachers themselves.

The teachers take materials that they have not been able to take with them to the new school year. Is that the way?

That’s one way. But eventually we can get to the point where we postpone things until we can’t anymore and there is school material left. That’s why I still say: let’s extend our school days. That would be a medium-term perspective for those graduating in a few years.

Advisory bodies suggest focusing on Mathematics, German and English. They assume that you can learn anything if you know math and German.

We shouldn’t just focus on that. School trips are cancelled, sports festivals, walking days, project weeks, career orientation, internships. This is not only a leisure activity, but also promotes social skills. School is more than the transfer of knowledge in mathematics and German.

There have been school dropouts in the past for various reasons. Can anything be deduced from this?

I find one study interesting. She analyzed the consequences of school closures after an earthquake in Pakistan. The schools there were closed for three months. It turned out that at the end of school, the gap was one and a half years. The study authors attributed this to the fact that if you don’t start at the learning level, the kids are constantly doing something they can’t do yet. I see this research as a warning to politicians. We have to come up with good solutions how to proceed.

Saxony wants to hire 267 additional school assistants. They should support the teachers to promote more individually. Does that help?

Nice with 1500 schools and 16000 classes. I would like a more honest conversation.

Marcel Helbig

The 41-year-old is a professor at the Science Center in Berlin and at the Leibnitz Institute for Educational Trajectories in Bamberg. He is concerned with social inequalities and the consequences of the corona crisis on the education system in Germany. Helbig lives in Erfurt. (fp)


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