Curriculum "Kinder und ihre natürliche Umwelt" 

The Curriculum 'Children and their Natural Environment' (Kinder und ihre natürliche Umwelt) of the Working Group for Educational Research at Göttingen.

1. Project history
In 1970, the Volkswagen Foundation publicly invited curriculum project proposals for the field of elementary education, with the goal of developing a science-oriented curriculum for use at the primary-school level. The curriculum materials, after being empirically tested in controlled field studies at selected schools, were to help in carrying out basic changes in the state school System in FR Germany. In particular, changes were envisaged in the basic content of primary education and as a result, the general objectives of primary schooling.
The principal reasons for this invitation were these:
• The educational aims of primary education were only vague Statements of
intention. These intentions, particularly those concerning the affective and
social capabilities of the pupils, were to be described in greater detail.
• To ensure that innovation in the field of primary education finds its way into the
• To link pre-school activities to the curriculum of the compulsory primary
• To fill a gap in innovative teaching, which was expected since education at the
'Gesamtschule' (comprehensive school) was to begin in grade 5.
The Working Group for Educational Research at the University of Göttingen submitted a research proposal which led to a grant of 2'l M DM being awarded in 1971. (The persons receiving the grant were Professor Heinrich Roth and Dr. Hans Tütken.)
The goal of the project was no longer to adapt the well-known American natural science curriculum 'Science—A Process Approach' to German conditions, as had first been planned. Instead, the project group decided to develop a new inter-disciplinary natural science curriculum.
The development of this curriculum was carried out by a group of specialists, working in close co-operation with teachers who tested the different stages in their schools. For most of the development phase, this group of specialists consisted of four to six full-time educational specialists and scientists, but for short periods of time up to 11 scientists were employed on the project.
The materials and numerous curriculum sequences developed for the first two years (pre-school and grade 1) were presented in 1976 to the EVI CIEL| in Münster for an independent evaluation.
EVI CIEL denotes: Einführung von, Versuche mit, Informationen über Curriculum Institutionalisierte Elementarerziehung. (Introduction of, experiments with, information about curriculum-based elementary education.)

2. Objectives of the curriculum 'Children and their Natural
The curriculum 'Children and their Natural Environment' is an attempt to integrate a particular teaching concept with the 'scientific way of looking at Problems'. It is also an attempt to understand teaching, in its broadest sense, in all its different dimensions by means of curricular assessment.
The methods used in science are linked to particular subject areas and demand exactness. This is what should be conveyed by the topical problems used in this curriculum.
Education oriented to the natural sciences can provide this if rules and terminology are seen by children not just naively as models of reality. Rather, rules and terminology should be tested for their conformance to reality. This means that certain items and situations will be more accessible by means of operational abstraction, found in reconstruction and interpretation patterns.
The senses provide the foundation for a phenomenological description of the content to be learned. The desired transfer of this comprehension of ideas (which are defined by exact rules and methods) into learning is much the same as Bruner's enactive representation, and the concrete operational stage of Piaget's theory of development.
A natural science concept orientation means the establishment of a System of verbal descriptions for different models of reaction to phenomena: the establishment of descriptions concerning experience and methods.
The curriculum 'Children and their Natural Environment' is structure oriented, it is oriented to the natural sciences by means of a structured method of observation and a structured System of concepts.
The specific scientific themes, for example energy/matter or development/genetics, etc., are less important here than the characteristics of the procedures and methodology of science. The desired discipline competence and the necessary behaviour require an ability to relativize and be objective. The ability to relativize is meant in the sense that rules, concepts and methods only have a temporary and instrumental nature, and that they only represent aspects of 'reality'. The necessity for objectivity arises in the sense that perception by the senses is increasingly being expanded by scientific methods. A certain distance to one's own interpretation is also provided by the co-operation and communication with other children.
3. Available materials
The materials developed and tested by the group consist of curriculum units designed for biological, physical science and chemistry sequences. They are conceived for pre-school and the grades l to 4. The curriculum is offered in 10 volumes, two for each school year. These have been published by Moritz Diesterweg in Frankfurt. Volumes for pre-school and grades l and 2 are already available. The remaining volumes for grades 3 and 4 are expected to be available soon.
The curriculum materials were designed for use by teachers. Textbooks and workbooks for pupils have not beert developed. Worksheets are included, with the materials, to be copied by the teacher for his pupils. Most of the apparatus and materials needed by the teacher for the units are easily obtained. Detailed instructions are included in each unit. In special cases materials required can be obtained from the Phywe AG in Göttingen which has co-operated with the project group in the technical development of some experiments.
The explanation and rationalization of the goals at the beginning of each unit, as well as the detailed comments concerning content, provide the teacher with a thorough description of the theme for each unit. The activities suggested for each sequence contain both detailed content Information, as well as suggestions for carrying out these activities.
The following organization is used for each of the activities:
Title—clearly presents the theme or nature of the activity.
Materials needed
Time necessary
Remarks—concerning the objectives or the necessary materials.
Suggestions for structuring the activity.
Suggestions for carrying out the activity.
Suggestions for extra work or projects.

4. Implementation
The implementation of the curriculum was started in 1978. A special network was created by the project group to promote communication between the users (and Potential users) of the curriculum. With the financial support of the publisher, suggestions received for the use and modification of the curriculum unit are passed from the project group (which functions as a copying and distribution centre) to other users. Additionally, the project group and a few users were experimenting with a card-index System to make the planning phase easier for the classroom teacher.

Arbeitsgruppe für Unterrichtsforschung 1971, Weg in die Naturwissenschaft (Stuttgart). Arbeitsgruppe für Unterrichtsforschung 1974, Vergleichen von Gewichten. In: Die Grundschule, pp. 173—183.
HALLER, H.-D., KAYSER, B. and NOWACK, I. 1980, Sachunterricht als Problemfeld für ein Curriculumprojekt. In: Sachunterricht in der Diskussion, edited by J. Zeichmann
KAYSER, B. and NOWACK, 1. 1975, Arbeits- und Sozialformen in der Vorklasse. In Lehrpläne und ihre Verwirklichung. Unterricht in der Grundschule I, Grundschulkongreß Niedersachsen, Vol. 2 (Frankfurt) pp. 57-69.
TÜTKEN, H. 1970, Curriculum und Begabung in der Grundschule. In: Inhalte grundlegender Bildung, Vol. 3, Grundschulkongreß '69 (Frankfurt) pp. 55-68.
TÜTKEN, H. 1972, Graphisches Darstellen im 2. Schuljahr? Westermanns Pädagogische Beiträge, Vol. 3, pp. 143-147.
SCHÜTZE, H. 1972, Begriffsorientierter Biologieunterricht in der Grundschule. Westermanns Pädagogische Beiträge, Vol. l, pp.28-35.
Kompetenz und Qualifikation zur Entwicklung von Curricula. In: K. Diener u. a., Lernzieldikussion und Unterrichtspraxis, Stuttgart (Klett) 1978, S. 238-263; veränderte Fassung von 13. und 17.
H. Tütken u. a.: Kinder und ihre natürliche Umwelt. Naturwissenschaftlich orientiertes Curriculum für den Sachunterricht in der Grundschule - Planungshilfen und Unterrichtsbeispiele. 2. Lernjahr, 2 Bände, Frankfurt/M. (Diesterweg) 1979; 3. Lernjahr, 2 Bände, Frankfurt/M. (Diesterweg) 1979; 4. Lernjahr, 2 Bände, Frankfurt/M. Diesterweg) 1980; 5. Lernjahr, Göttingen (Zentrum für Didaktische Studien e.V.) 1986
B. Kayser, H.-D. Haller und I. Nowack): Sachunterricht als Problemfeld für ein Curriculumprojekt. In: J. Ziechmann (Hrsg.), Sachunterricht in der Diskussion, Braunschweig (Westermann) 1980, S. 27-58
H. Asselmeyer u. a.: Entwicklung eines naturwissenschaftlich orientierten Curriculum: Kinder und ihre natürliche Umwelt. In: A. Garlichs u. a. (Hrsg.), CIEL II. Fallstudie zu einem Förderungsprogramm der Stiftung Volkswagenwerk zur Elementarerziehung, Göttingen (Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht) 1983, S. 172-193


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