ACROSS Summer School on the National Park Schwarzwald

Since 2007, Institute of Education and Communication takes part in organising summer schools within the project ACROSS.

The second summer school was organised by the Humboldt University Berlin in the Environmental and education centre in Badenweiler in National Park Schwarzwald from 1 to 7 April 2019. The learning group consisted of twenty-five BSc. or MSc. students from all six partner countries. These students will become teachers of vocational subjects in secondary agricultural schools in Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Eleven academic staff of specialization in the pedagogy or ecology prepared for ACROSS students an inspiring educational programme, which led them to the exploring, action-oriented and transformative learning, it supported their critical thinking and activated them to practical work. The lessons were interactive, the students were not passive recipients of knowledge, but they raised interesting ideas and shoved innovative approaches, and together they created many interesting outputs.

The goal of the week was to get students acquainted with modern teaching practices, principles of an European Sustainable Development and a civil social responsibility. A specific requirement for students was to prepare a team-teaching seminars or workshops of their specialization, where they would apply the ecological topics. Newly established teaching units were thought to students from the Edith Stein High School of Agriculture Freiburg in the ethnographic museum in Müllheim. The traditional classroom was replaced by a museum lecture room, a courtyard, a museum café, an exhibition space or a cellar depository. Thus, students had to cope not only with teaching in a foreign language but also with an unconventional teaching environment. For this purpose, they created many interesting tools and activities. In total, six international working groups were created, and their joint efforts resulted into six innovative teaching units on the following topics: biodiversity, bee usefulness, reduction of plastics, organic farming, problem solving in a global society, sustainable garden.

Students used different techniques to support system thinking (such as "mind mapping") and teaching methods such as mentoring and practical instruction (making jewellery from used PET bottles or designing an attractive garden for bees); dialogue method of discussion, during which students exchanged views on biodiversity, ecological fertilizers, biofuels and landscape re-cultivation; the dialogue method of a heuristic interview, during which they sought solutions to the issue of excessive plastic waste production in the countries of the third world; a didactic game (e. g. "speed dating"), in which students shared their attitudes towards consumer society (veganism versus meat consumption, conventional and organic economy, local products versus global products, etc.).

Partners of ACROSS project believe that they will have another chance to participate in other meaningful projects that would guide students to strengthen their active role, both locally and globally, thus contributing to creating a fairer, securer more tolerant, inclusive and more sustainable world in our contemporary turbulent time.

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