Equal Pay, Geschlechtergerechtigkeit, soziales Unternehmertum und neues, gutes Arbeiten: Die Welt ist im Wandel und viele smarte Menschen arbeiten an Modellen, die der neuen Bedingungen in der Lebens- und Arbeitswelt gerecht werden. Aber: Wenn wir die Zukunft jetzt in die richtigen Bahnen lenken möchten, dann sollten wir auch dort ansetzen, wo es alles beginnt – bei den Kindern. Der renommierte dänische Familientherapeut Jesper Juul hat gemeinsam mit der Psychologin Helle Jensen mit „Vom Gehorsam zur Verantwortung“ ein richtungsweisendes Buch geschrieben, das den Begriff der Gleichwürdigkeit zwischen Erwachsenen und Kind als zentrales Thema hat. Wieso eine Beziehung auf Augenhöhe wichtig für die Entwicklung eines Kindes und einer offenen Gesellschaft ist, haben wir mit der Autorin Helle Jensen besprochen.
What changes with the lived equality in the relationship between teachers and pupils, or adults and children?
Helle Jensen: We really need a change in this direction to be able to deal with the enormous challenges that we are facing, global and local. We need to raise children that can enter the life with contact to their inner strength and core and who has both selfreliance, selfesteem and selfconfidence. Not in order to develop egocentricity, but in order to create an atmosphere where it is possible to sense yourself and your own limits to make it possible for you to sense the limits and the needs of other people as well. The equal dignity (Gleichwürdigkeit) is the only way to support these qualities. If you as a child is bossed by the teachers or the parents, because they always think that they know best, and that the utmost behavior of a child is obedience, then you get children who – well yes – will be obedient – but it will have severe consequences for the development of the child´s ability to think on his own, to believe in his creative mind and to take responsibility and show empathy and compassion for himself and for the community/society that he is a part of.
Is it enough if the relationship between educators and pupils changes or does it not need a revolution of the school system? What is your optimal education system like?
Helle Jensen: When we change the relationship between child and teacher a lot will change. We have to work from the perspective of a whole school approach. That means we have to work with the relations between all the parties taking part in the school life. And your possibilities to change the system will always enhance if you work both bottom up and top down.
Today we know that a good learning climate is build on good relations. Since human beings are social beings from the very beginning they are totally dependent on good relations to develop and to learn. And when learning and development is based on good relations it is of course totally necessary that there exist relations between teachers and children. That means that the teacher has to be present as a human being. And this is a challenge, because in the past the education was build on the respect for the teacher embodied in his role and the authority that was in this role. Today there is no authority in the role and that means that every teacher has to be present and to show personal authority and authenticity.
So as a teacher it is no longer possible to communicate/pass on knowledge without being present as a human being as well. So the revolution is in the way the people in the school system are able to act and interact, how they relate to each other and according to which values the relationship is defined? Do we want to have obedient children, and obedient employees? Or do we want children and employees who in an atmosphere of equal dignity have the freedom to think and act on their own according to a defined framework of common values?
When we imagine that children in school are treated in a need- and relationship-oriented way: How do you think this kind of education and pedagogy will affect their future professional life? In other words, the world of work is changing radically, but there are still strong hierarchies. Will the next generations break these chains through equal communication?
Helle Jensen: We don´t need the obedience – that was one of the qualities needed in the industrial era. We need people who can exist and work with creativity and an utmost sense for the fact that we all in our way to live our lifes have great influence and impact on each others life – not only the life of the neighbour but also the life of the people living on other continents. Therefore the development of personal and social responsibility, empathy and compassion and sense for the coherence with not only other people but also the nature will need much more attention.
What effects can it have in our society if a credible relationship between child and adult becomes even stronger in the future?
Helle Jensen: I think that it will have a positive effect on our health. When looking at children raised that way (nicht durch Erziehung aber in Beziehung) and their way of cooperating with each other and taking care of each other it really seems like qualities that could strengthen our society in the future.
Helle Jensen is a psychologist and family therapist. Together with Jesper Juul, she has been teaching relational competence for professionals, and counselling and family therapy in different European Countries. As chairperson and co-founder of the Danish Society for the Promotion of Life Wisdom in Children, she has been teaching professionals how to develop empathy and presence and how to bring these values into the lives of the children and young adults with whom they work. Her current activities include responsibility for the school staff programme of “Hand in Hand”, an EU funded programme aimed at enhancing social-emotional-intercultural competences for 8th grade students (www.handinhand.si) and a whole school approach in Berlin primary schools to research the effect of working with social-emotional development.
She is the author of numerous publications, including Jesper Juul & Helle Jensen: Relational Competence. Towards a new Culture of Education. Mathias Voelchert GmbH Verlag, Windberg, 2017, Hellwach und ganz bei sich: Achtsamtkeit und Empathie in der Schule and Empathy. It´s what holds the world together (with Jesper Juul, Peter Høeg and others). She also directs the two-year training programme “Teaching Empathy” (www.trainingempathy.com).
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