Discover Germany, Issue 82, January 2020

Page 40

Students show the results of their school trip to Langeoog.

‘Help me to do it myself’ – Maria Montessori The private boarding school Schloss Hagerhof in Bad Honnef follows Montessori‘s educational concept and convinces with its particularly warm atmosphere. The cosmopolitan team of pedagogues regards the students as equals and encourages them to develop their individuality. TEXT: MARILENA STRACKE  I  PHOTOS: MARTINA ROHFLEISCH

Located between the Rhine and nature reserve Siebengebirge resides the model school for progressive education Schloss Hagerhof, which includes a high school, a secondary-school branch and a boarding school. With 600 students, around 100 of which live at the boarding school, many different nationalities are represented. Children from Germany and other European countries, as well as from the United Emirates, South Korea, South America, Estonia and Russia, experience the cultural life of a diverse community early on in their lives. With the Montessori education, Schloss Hagerhof is highly specialised, but also offers a wide range of activities. The focus is placed on competitive sports, music and theatre. Often, these fields are separated, but at Schloss Hagerhof, there are just as many passionate basketball players on 40  |  Issue 82  |  January 2020

their way to becoming professionals as there are talented musical singers. When Dr Sven Neufert became headmaster in 2018, he launched a comprehensive digitalisation process: Learning with iPads and interactive whiteboards encourages students to work autonomously, and to be self-organised and individualised. Sustainability also plays a big role, as Schloss Hagerhof is a ‘School of the future’, which means its education reflects Agenda 21 of the United Nations regarding sustainable development. “Hence, we have a meadow orchard, a school garden, wetlands which we look after and a bee hotel, and we align our lessons with the idea of sustainability,” Dr Neufert explains. Social engagement is equally important in the Montessori education. Various place-

ments are offered to gain experience in society. For the younger students, this is an agricultural placement, for example. Older students complete social placements at senior residencies, Amnesty International or the fire brigade, among many other places. Dr Neufert adds: “If you’re active early on in our society, you will continue to do so in the future.” Head of boarding school, Yvonne Schmidt, explains what makes life at Schloss Hagerhof special: “We regularly get feedback from the families that there’s such a great atmosphere here. We regard our students as equals. We think participation and democracy are extremely important. Young people have to dare to speak their minds and they have to learn how to present their opinion. For us adults, this means to learn to trust that the kids are doing the right thing.” The cosmopolitan, trusting and family-like atmosphere thus makes Schloss Hagerhof a wonderful ‘temporary home’, and a great start in life.