Israeli-German education exchange

The Sudbury School Ammersee and its close relationship to Israel

The Sudbury School Ammersee, without its years-long relationship to Israeli representatives of democratic and particularly Sudbury schools, would be unthinkable. Israeli experts have already accompanied the founding, given a decisive impulse, and supported the development and evaluation of the school, even moreso since its opening through ongoing coaching.

Democratic schools in Israel – a success model

In Israel, democratic schools, to which category Sudbury-Schools belong, are an established educational form and not to be left out of a pluralistic educational landscape. Israel is the land with the most democratic schools worldwide. The successes of democratic schools have resulted, among other things, in representatives like Yaakov Hecht (founder of the democratic school of Hadeira) in being advisors to the government. A government instigated study has determined that the Sudbury School in Jerusalem is the most peaceful school in all Israel. Experts estimate that, in regard to democratic schooling, Israel is two decades ahead of Germany.

Israeli-German educational cooperation in the founding phase:

Since participation by the Munich school founders at the 2010 International Conference for Democratic Education in Tel Aviv, close contact and friendship with Israeli educational representatives has prevailed. In the following years, the exchange was ongoing:

  • Founders from Munich visited the Israeli schools to sit in there and gather important experiences which they could later bring back to the Sudbury School Ammersee.
  • Menachem Gorem, founder of the Sudbury School on the Golan Heights, came to Munich to advise the group.
  • Yaacov Hecht accompanied the founders-group to an appointment in the Culture-Ministry where he described his experiences and urged for the establishment of the Sudbury School Ammersee.
  • Already in the grounding–phase, the Sudbury School Ammersee and the Sudbury School on the Golan Heights sealed their School-partnership.
  • Ramit Avidan, education expert from Tel Aviv, joined the scientific advisory board of the Sudbury School Ammersee.

Israeli-German educational cooperation since the school opening:

The Sudbury-model is a success-model, however, only when the concept can really be applied: students ripen to personalities and realize their fullest potentials, learning-blockades are overcome, joy from their own creation arises. To the development of the student equally belong, however, phases of boredom and disorientation. To allow these without devaluing judgment or application of pressure is a crucial aspect of the concept. Frequently thereafter follow phases of creative joy and blossoming of potential.

Based on these recognitions, the founders of the Sudbury School Ammersee engaged, from the beginning onwards, a continual exchange of experiences with Sudbury-Schools worldwide, above all with Israel. Besides exchanging emails about technical issues and meeting at conferences, regular visits by staff and former students of the Sudbury School Jerusalem to the Sudbury School Ammersee provided constant coaching. The goal was, and is, to implement, as well as possible, the Sudbury-concept at Sudbury School Ammersee (Contents are, for example: How to optimize the school-meeting and justice-committee structures? How do students attain trust in their own capabilities? How to support students on their way to functioning by their own initiative? …. ) The Sudbury School profited enormously from this exchange.

Again and again the experienced colleagues from Israel confirm to the representatives of Sudbury School Ammersee that, after only a short time, they have already established a functioning Sudbury-culture and are performing exceptional work.

For the students, these are intense processes, asking again and again for self-initiative and responsibility.  Some former students characterize Sudbury-Schools for this as the “toughest schools in the world”. It is this development path which leads the students to grow into complex personalities, to creative, unconventional-thinking, life-affirming, untraumatized adults. The society into which the young people bring along their capabilities and understanding of democracy profits thereby. This is also distinctly manifestly recognizable in Israel.

Workshops for refugees in cooperation with the Israeli General  Consul

An Israeli-German cooperation project, outside of school borders, has just begun: At the request of the Israeli General Consul, Dr. Dan Shaham, the Sudbury School Ammersee will lead workshops on the values, committees and flows of democracy. These workshops are directed towards juvenile refugees and should support the integration of refugees. They will proceed in cooperation with the Israeli General Consulate, the Landkreis Landsberg, the SOS-Kinderdorf Diesen as well as representatives from the Sudbury School Jerusalem. At this time preparatory discussions are underway; the first workshops should begin in June.

Bottom-line:

The Sudbury School Ammersee is fortunate and thankful for these intensive encounters with Israeli education-representatives, the experience-benefit and the heart-connection which are constantly growing further.

It would be an enhancement for Bavaria and Germany that democratic schools also here at home establish a part of a pluralistic education landscape. In exchange with Israel the Sudbury School Ammersee gladly contributes thereto.

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