Events - 27.11.2014 - 00:00 

Learning in childhood and adulthood

The last edition of the Science Café of Science et Cité in St.Gallen’s Textile Museum focused on the topic of “Early, earlier, earliest childhood”. Experts from the PHSG, the FHS St.Gallen and the HSG and their guests discussed the question as to how, when and where education should begin for children.


27 November 2014. The discussion, which was chaired by Sibylle Minder Hochreutener from the FHS St.Gallen, soon revealed that education in a wider sense of the term already starts very early. “Education starts from the word go,” said Bettina Grubenmann from the Social Work Department of the FHS St.Gallen. Education until age four was not about schooling but about self-education, said Doris Edelmann, Head of the Institute of Education and Society at the Pädagogische Hochschule St.Gallen (PHSG). This was about active participation in everyday life, and “that doesn’t work without stimulation”, she clarified.

Learning with family and friends

The role of friends and other actors was the subject of a lively discussion. Examples included crèches and day care centres, as well as mother and father advice centres and support service providers. Continuity, quality and professionalism had an impact, explained Bettina Grubenmann with regard to the various actors. Links between services also made a contribution.

Doris Edelmann referred to research results which prove that fundamental pedagogic conditions in the family, such as regular reading to children or supervised pottering about had in influence on children’s success in later life. Sabine Seufert from the Institute of Business Education and Educational Management of the University of St.Gallen suggested that the term “family” should not be used in too limited a fashion – also from the perspective of a mother or foster-mother. An external network could also be part of it. In addition, a look at the first three years of a child’s life should not result in a pessimistic view: “What Little John doesn’t learn, Big John will learn differently.” The other experts agreed.

Not too much, not too little

“Is education still private? If it isn’t, who’s responsible for it?” asked moderator Sibylle Minder Hochreutener the panel. “Was it ever?” countered Bettina Grubenmann and added: “Here, family privacy is incredibly strong. If the family is a place where bad things happen, this is a curse.” Doris Edelmann, however, focused on a different aspect: “The privacy of the family is under threat. This also has an impact on families who do everything right and can lead to a stimulation frenzy.”

Sabine Seufert, Professor of Educational Management at the HSG, cast a glance at children’s later professional careers. Children should be encouraged to learn strategies for self-efficacy at an early age. Society was risk-averse; failure and mistakes had negative connotations. “Yet it’s important to make mistakes,” said Sabine Seufert. Forms of support for parents were also discussed. Bettina Grubenmann suggested that continuity was a very important success factor. Doris Edelmann was convinced that innovative models and doorstep services were promising. “But if someone lives in the wrong quarter, the may find that no one every knocks on their door that’s bad luck. That’s not something our society can afford.”

Science et Cité
The nationally operating Science et Cité is the initiator of this series of events. It promotes the dialogue between academia and society. Besides Science Cafés at university locations, it also organises exhibitions, festivals and conferences.

Photos: Photocase / adina80xx

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