Leuphana Receives Distinc- tion for Teacher Education

Lüneburg. With its exceptional model for educating teachers Leuphana University of Lüneburg is among the top-ranked universities in Germany. This was affirmed by the recent distinction which Leuphana was awarded within a competition organized jointly by the Heinz-Nixdorf Foundation and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. In its praise the jury singled out Leuphana’s educational model, particularly it being embedded into the overall mission of the university, the fact that at Leuphana theory and practice are innovatively integrated through the collaboration between the different Schools on campus, and, finally, the interdisciplinary Center for the Future of Teacher Education which functions as a site for the strategic development of teacher education. The distinction included a funding award of 500,000 Euros.

Other prizewinners include the Technical University of Munich and the University of Hamburg.  University President Sascha Spoun was pleased with the award which he credited to the University’s comprehensive educational model: “We enable future teachers not only to convey the knowledge of their field competently, but also to use their broad professional repertoire to actively contribute in designing the society of tomorrow as agents of change in the classroom of 2020.”

The Heinz-Nixdorf Foundation and the Stifterverband see this competition as a means to strengthen teacher education at the university level where it ought to be repositioned and moved to the center so that it can become an essential element in the design of tomorrow’s university model.  This goal is being pursued at Leuphana in a variety of ways.  Leuphana’s starting point is the idea that the teachers who are currently being educated must become the active agents for designing the classroom of 2020. To achieve this goal, Leuphana is making sure that teacher education has a clear research agenda.  At the same time, however, the close integration of theory and practice remains one of the distinctive characters of Leuphana’s teacher education.  Researchers in different academic disciplines work together in the Education Faculty on the interdisciplinary theme of “heterogeneity.”  The university has created a think tank to that end at the Center for the Future of Teacher Education, which will bring researchers, school representatives and students together in order to develop, implement and evaluate new ideas and strategies for teacher education.

Prof. Dr. Dominik Leiss from the Institute for Mathematics and Didactics is one of the members of the team managing the Center of the Future of Teacher Education. He sees the jury’s decision as a reward for the University’s engagement in teacher education, particularly its success in bringing teacher education into the center of the university and in creating the Center for the Future of Teacher Education as a site for educational innovation.

One example he gives is the “Online Campus School,” a project developed jointly with the Jesterberg high school.  With the help of modern information and communication technology, this project takes real-life classroom situations from the schoolroom and brings them onto the university campus.  Students can then experience and understand these school events that now are directly integrated into the educational process. As part of the project, Leuphana researchers also assist the school with organizational and personnel development.  For Leuphana’s researchers, the project provides the opportunity to work with schoolteachers to test pedagogical ideas or develop new materials for the classroom. This collaboration can serve as a model for future projects. Other schools in rural or economically disadvantaged areas also can create digital networks with universities and thereby have a direct link to the latest academic research.       

Background

Teachers have been receiving their education in Lüneburg since 1946.  Today, Leuphana University of Lüneburg offers three degree programs in the teaching profession:

  • Teaching in primary schools
  • Teaching in secondary and intermediary schools
  • Teaching in vocational schools, specialized in social and business education      

The program incorporates the educational sciences (pedagogy, psychology) with individual subject areas.  These include: biology, chemistry, German, English, art, mathematics, music, politics, religion, social studies, sports as well as business and social pedagogy.

Approximately 35 professors and 150 staff members participate in these educational programs.  Since December 2010 alone the university has installed 14 new professorships.

Leuphana accepts 340 education students each year.  The teaching initiative undertaken by the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation and the Stifterverband is part of a larger educational initiative of the Stifterverband that intends to elevate and focus the public debate about education in Germany.  To achieve these aims the Stifterverband has identified several key fields for policy intervention and formulated quantitative educational goals at the university level for 2020.  Through annual monitoring, the Stifterverband checks to see whether universities are getting closer to these goals and then makes the necessary policy recommendations.  Additionally it provides its own funding initiatives to help attain these goals.