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Education for Sustainable Development

Pädagogischen Arbeit im Kinderforscherzentrum HELLEUM

The education for sustainable development is on of the core elements of educational work in “Kinderforscherzentrum HELLEUM”. One of the principles concerning our educational efforts is the concept of “Gestaltungskompetenz” (Ability to apply knowlegde concerning sustainable development and to recordnize problems that go along with non-sustainable development).

In 2002 the United Nations UN proclaimed the years 2005 to 2014 the World Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. International initiatives intend to help embed the principles of sustainable development in all parts of education worldwide. The main intention is to guarantee coming generations the same general living conditions existing today. This can not be achieved without profound changes because: crucial ressources, that ensure the present living standards will be exausted in near future. This circumstance is aggravated by the fact that the worlds population will still be rising in the next decades with an appropriate rise of the demand. Furthermore do the present ways of life and economic activity cause sensitive intervention in nature and eco systems that are well known. That is why sustainable development has to focus equally on ecological, economical and social aspects.

How can this be achieved?

The expertice of all citizens is crucial for sustainable Development and social coherence (say the Ministers for education of the OECD). Hence in the course of the DeSeCo-Project core competencies have been identified that in turn formed the basis for the concept of “Gestaltungskompetenz” which includes twelve minor competencies:

1. Adaptation of perspectives 
2. Antizipation 
3. Inter- and transdisziplinary gain of perception 
4. The abilitiy to deal with fragmentary and over-complex Information
5. Cooperation 
6. Handling of individual dilemma in the process of decision-making 
7. Partizipation 
8. Motivation 
9. The reflection on general orientations 
10. ethical acting 
11. independent acting 
12. Support of others

The advancement of those competencies should enable people to reflect activly on non sustainable development, with the objective to arrange their own live along the criterias of sustainability and to initiate processes of sustainable development together with others.

How does HELLEUM promote “Gestaltungskompetenz” of children?

The pedagogical focus of HELLEUM lies on the concept of “Lernwerkstatt”. In an openly designed learning environment without regulation and instructions, learning guided by interests is being provided. This is how conditions are created that help to develop the competencies that are described above. A thoroughly arranged learning area and qualified educators are framing the activities of the children. Research partners, materials, modes of operation, topic, time frame of their actions and methods that conduct them on the pursuit of their own questions are dictated by the children. This is how independent acting, the handling of individual dilemma in the process of decision-making, partizipation, cooperation, adaptation of perspectives and the support of ohters are challanged and enforced. Furthermore the self conducted and self dependent acting contributes to experience self-efficacy and rises motivation. Within HELLEUM children are confronted with scientific, technical and environmental phenomena. This goes along with amazement, creation of own questions and productive aggitation.

The children reflect upon their observations and share them with others, they try to solve problems and to find explanations. The more intense they interact with a phenomenon, the more they discern its complexity. This process does not follow a specific didactical setting but is the result of imidiate action. In doing so children are dealing with with fragmentary and over-complex Information while gaining inter- and transdisciplinary perception. To find potential solutions children have to anticipate.

Apart from the promotion of these competencies the workshops do invite children to deal with topics of BNE like the use of renewable ressources, regenerative energy, recycling, ressource management (soil, water, waste) or environmental pollution (soil, water, waste). We are very concerned not to dwell in abstract descriptions or explanations of the “adults world” but to seek links to the view children have on the world because children discover the world while being in action. This is why BNE in HELLEUM always correlates with activiness: for exampel do children have the chance to reenact the principle of recycling while making toys of waste in the workshop “Müll macht´s”.


1 vgl. stand 2013
2 DeSeCo = Definition and Selection of Competencies
3 vgl. de Haan, G. (2008) S. 30f
4 vgl. de Haan, G. (2008) S. 30f


Bormann, I.; de Haan, G. (Hrsg.) (2008) Kompetenzen der Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag

Overwien, B.; Rode, H. (Hrsg.) (2013) Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung.Berlin: Verlag Barbara Budrich

Bundesministerium für Umwelt Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (Hrsg.) (2009) Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung in der Grundschule. Berlin: Zeitbildverlag

Praxis Beispiele

Not only with regards to the content or the conceptual orientation, the HELLEUM is bound to BNE-. Also the building which was build using renewable and environmentally friendly ressources and including topmost energy efficancy accomodates to the criteria of BNE. Our furniture and basic commodity do fullfill the demands of sustainability.