Guidelines and goals
The goal of the educational work of the youth education center Kurt Löwenstein is to enable children and youth to analyze their own situation in a sociopolitical context and to relate it to their own interests. Through participatory workshops, the participants get to recognize their own interests and needs, to put them into words and to publicly stand for them. By this, the young people can experience the chances and limitations of participation in our society themselves and try out structures of democratic participation.
We want to empower children and young people in their self-confidence as well as in their trust in their own strengths, their conflict management strategies and their ability to criticize and communicate, so that they are able to recognize prejudices and act against discrimination.
The education center and its employees work according to democratic, anti-racist and anti-sexist principles with the aim of constructively dealing with topics and discussions. These principles are evident in self-defined processes of democratic decision-making as well as in specific instructions that promote respectful interaction with one another.
We stand for the de-construction of prejudices and societal role patterns. The approach of gender-reflected educational work is the base of our work in small groups, either in gender-homogeneous as well as in mixed groups.
Another central issue in our work is encountering of people who have very different backgrounds, e.g. East / West, city / country, old / young, with and without migration experience. These encounters, also during our regular international youth meetings, lead to new dimensions of thinking among the participants in many ways.
Dealing with the assumed “stranger” and putting oneself into the daily life experience of “the other” leads to a diversity-conscious handling of differences. This encounter enables people to get rid of prejudices, build up mutual understanding and the establish long-term contacts.
The target groups in our seminars are diverse and vary according to the project and the activity: We organize seminars with children, youth and young adults. Nevertheless, at our seminars we work predominantly with young people from Berlin and Brandenburg, who are considered as non-privileged or "disadvantaged in education" due to their background, their social environment or their intended graduation. Both in terms of content and method, we have the specific characteristics of the target groups in mind: different migration experiences, social situation, gender, religion, age, impairments and other forms of discrimination and disadvantage.
In terms of empowerment, we want to apply our existing strengths and abilities and put questions of one's own identity or identity formation, self-assertion, judgment and the development of ability to act in the center of the seminars.
Very often, young people hardly recognize any satisfactory future prospects in the current economic situation and the ongoing social restructuring processes. The youth education center Kurt Löwenstein would like to motivate these children and youth to actively involve themselves to improve their own living reality and to provide them with the necessary skills and perspectives.
Primary school children are also target groups of our political education. Children are part of our society and do not live in a policy-free space. Even at primary school age, they perceive politics and society. They are subjects of our society who have a right to be taken seriously. We consider it important to work with children at an age when adult and media-transferred prejudices and explanatory patterns have not yet been consolidated in their heads.
In the area of international seminars, we mainly work with coordinators and trainers of youth movements from Europe. In addition, we conduct bilateral exchanges between Berlin or Brandenburg youth and young people from Eastern Europe and Israel.
Didactics and methodology of our educational work
A central didactic principle of our educational work is the experience and participants’ orientation. Our educational process addresses the interests of children and youth and we include their respective life situation, which is the starting point of all educational processes: the participants themselves are the subjects of the learning process. This corresponds to our emancipatory understanding of education, which is directed to maturity, autonomy, independence and participation of children and youth.
Interactive methods, such as simulations, case studies, opinion barometers, discussions, interaction exercises, etc. show possibilities for action, which must be preceded by a process of forming opinions and judgments. The thus desired competence to act should enable one to apply own ways of thinking, reasoning and working.
One of the most important didactic concepts of our work, which has been tried and tested over many years, is product orientation. In many types of seminars, the participants reflect the seminar content in small products and show their point of view on the subject, for example in a video, a theater performance, an art presentation, a photo exhibition and much more. This largely self-directed learning process promotes a process of participation, negotiation, teamwork, cooperation and communication. Content positions are documented and the participants' self-esteem increased - they are proud of what they have created in their groups.