Discussions about education for human rights and for the implementation of human rights are closely related to the problem of values. They raise demands for an education on the basis of human values.
Uncertainties concerning values were and are being caused but many factors and aspects of political, social and personal life. They have always existed and will continue existing, but at times of rapid and fundamental changes in all walks of life they are especially deep. After 1945 different ways of thinking and behaving have come forth due to the development of different social and political systems, and a new register of values has developed. Schoolchildren and young people in East and West Germany grew up with systems giving them values that differed from one another. Due to different conditions for socialization and educational influences they gathered different experiences.
The social changes brought about by the breakdown of the GDR, by the process of unifying the two countries and the change to the system of market oriented economy have fundamentally changed living conditions and expectations young people can have for their future. Especially in East Germany these social changes made young people reevaluate their lives and contributed to them critically reconsidering former values.
Young people in East Germany did not know unemployment or lack of training facilities. Now unemployment figures are high and hundreds of thousands of teenagers go without any occupational training, and that a time when rents are increased to unbearable height as are fares for public transport.
Investigations show that an identity crisis among children and young people makes them resort to force and criminal activities. According to an inquiry by the "Emnid institute" 80% of the citizens of the former GDR feel second rate as citizens in the united Germany. Unemployment in the east of Germany is 30%. Investigations among pupils show that the age group between 12 and 16 is socially interested and social responibility is important to them. East Germans make up the majority of these pupils.
To show solidarity and to practice solidarity is for many of them still a matter of importance.
As regards community spirit, West German pupils were clearly egocentric whereas for east German pupils mutual assistance ranked higher. As a tendency we find, however, a loss of such values as community spirit and solidarity. This is due, most of all, to the search for new orientations in the pluralistic society guided by both east and west German pupils as of prime importance. Yet, a certain decline in the acceptance of this "value" can be traced in the period from 1990 to 1994.
The rating of "efficiency" and "performance" as values has to a large extent been determined by differing experiences in East and West Germany as, for instance, with the lack of job training facilities or unemployment. Such values as "peace" ( east 83,9%, west 85,4%), "freedom" (east 77,3%, west 86,1%), and "environment" (east 73,5, west 78,5%) are considered to be of great importance both by young East and West German people at an almost equal percentage.
These values are in close relation with the value of "responsibility" which ranks eighth (47,9%) with young people in East Germany and fifth (44,4%) with young people in West Germany. "Responsibility" as a value is used to support such statements as "I want to live my life at my own destination", "to care for others", "to preserve our environment". They are, however, often counteracted by official structures and insufficient opportunities for their own development.
The various difficulties in unifying the two parts of Germany and the growing hardships in social competition are often subjectively felt as injustices and are aggrevating the trend towards "party resentiment".
Young people in east Germany are being faced with the same problems as their age group in West Germany, but their loss of orientation and of social ties is augmented by missing prospects for their future careers. They collect the new experience: Capitalist market oriented economy is not only closely linked with modernisation but also with the loss of solidarity and processes of disintegration and alienation. The early selection process in the eduaction system, lacking integration possibilities in groups or disintegration processes are causes of conflicts. In addition to this pupils often do not find an adult at school or at home to talk to. Consequently they feel left alone with their problems, their anxieties, their individual crises and they miss a trustworthy atmosphere, somebody who tries to understand them and creates a basis of confidence.
Measures to counteract lack of orientation among young people could, for example, be found in the field of education, for instance by modified educational methods and strategies for peaceful and non-violent solutions to conflicts.
A defeatless method of conflict resolution according to Thomas Gordon is very inspiring in terms of pedagogics and methods. On the basis of comprehensive surveys he thinks a real conflict settlement will only be possible if nobody emerges from the conflict as a victor or vanquished, if a defeatless conflict settlement will be found.
His cooperative conflict settlement model contains the following steps:
1st step: Identify, label and define the conflict.
2nd step: Develop possible solutions.
3rd step: Critically assess the alternatives.
4th step: Decide for the best solution.
5th step: Put decision into practice.
6th step: Subsequent critical evaluation.
Gordon pointed out that each problem management does not go, through all of the six steps such as when the conflict has been settled earlier. But it has proven reliable for the approach to have all six steps in mind. They are meant to maintain communication even in difficult situations and arrive at a non-violent, peaceful conflict settlement. The young persons moral discernment and democratic competence to act is being consolidated by using Gordons' conflict settlement model.
Project-orientated work as well as project classes as a form of holistic learning which enable young persons to gather experience, take over responsibility for jobs, and identify needs, has proven to help young people form an identity and to strengthen their ability to deal with conflicts.
Since the young people are involved in all phases the project (conception, documentation, reflection) they develop a high motivation, activity and responsibilty.
Open classes centred around the pupils in which the teachers try to open up their classes, in order to give the pupils more scope for self-controlled learning, offer good opportunities for conflict settlement:
Essential features are:
- increasingly individual work and flexible groupings
- work at an individual rate and according to individual interests - a diversity of different activities in the group at the same time
- inspiring environment with many teaching aids for self-controlled learning (mostly checking each other)
- free movement in the classroom
- open relationship between teacher and pupil, emphasis on social learning and many more.
We need a school in which tolerance is practiced, in which taking over responsibility for conflict settlement is encouraged, and in which conflicts are settled without violence.
Adam, Horst: Jugend und Konflikte- pädagogische Uberlegungen zur gewaltlosen Konfliktbewaltigung. In Deutsch-deutsche Jugensforschung ( Hrsg. Alexander Bolz, Hartmut M. Griese). Juneta Verlag, Weinheim, München 1995. p. 203 f.f.
Gordon Thomas: Familienkonferenz. Die lösung von Konflikten zwischen Eltern und Kind, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, Munchen 1992
Bericht über die Situation der Kinder und Jugendlichen und die Entwicklung der Jugendhilfe in den neuen Bundesländern, Neunter Jugendbericht. Deutsches Jugendinstitut e.V., München 1995
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