He knows that the idea doesn’t just make friends, says Gerald Klenk. He has been in the educational landscape long enough for that. He used to work, among other things, at the Nürnberger Land school authority, today the 70-year-old is on the board of the Lernwerkstatt Inclusion in Feucht – and founded the “Alliance for Community Schools in Bavaria” with four other organizations to campaign for more inclusion in everyday school life in the state election campaign.
SZ: Mr. Klenk, many associations in Bavaria are committed to inclusion. To be very provocative: why is another alliance needed?
Gerald Klenk: Inclusion has still not arrived in schools, but has been pushed into the background with Corona and war. Of course, such crises are huge and will keep us busy for a long time. But they are no reason to forget people with disabilities.
At the heart of your alliance is the introduction of another type of school: the community school.
In the private sector there are already in Bavaria, but not yet in the public school system. At the community school, all students work together. There are no more classes, grades only from the eighth grade.
The resolution of differences as a vehicle for inclusion?
Inclusion affects us all, not just people with disabilities. However, our current school system is not inclusive, but separate. Parents keep registering their child with a disability from the mainstream school and registering it at a special school because, despite all efforts, it did not work.
Community schools have long been a subject of controversy. Critics complain about too much standardization and a lower level of education.
That’s a classic accusation, but the opposite is the case: We don’t bring everyone under one roof, but create more diversity. Each child is supported individually. Of course, not everyone is enthusiastic about this, not even in the teachers’ associations. But as a society, we need to be able to argue.
In order to support children individually in community schools, more teachers are needed. They are in short supply now.
Of course we need a better personnel key. Multi-professional teams, with social pedagogues or a craftsman who guides the students for a project, can be a relief. Teacher training needs to change anyway. People who do relationship work are needed. My son is a middle school teacher, some of his students kind of said goodbye during Corona. There’s still a lot to come.
You offer further training for teachers in the learning workshop. What are you doing?
Put simply, it is about developing an attitude and giving the teachers a kind of survival kit that they can use to make the idea of inclusion tangible in everyday life. Many are currently overloaded with bureaucracy.
One problem with inclusion is that compromises are difficult. It is often said: completely or not at all.
In 2009, Germany ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which also obliges Bavaria to have an inclusive school system. It does not specify a path, but a standard. Just bringing a wheelchair user into the class and saying that is now inclusive – that doesn’t do the person justice.
Seen in this way, you have chosen the thickest boards for drilling, because they are the most controversial.
We’re being realistic: we want to feed the topic into the public eye, we’ll see what comes of it. It would be a success if the concerns of people with disabilities were discussed again.