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- Germany’s   Political   Discussion
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- Learning +   gender
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- Summary

I. Germany’s Political Discussion about Education


The project “Early Technical Education” would like to find ways to introduce children to scientific and technical questions, from nursery school age on, in order to promptly arouse an interest in that area or to use the curiosity existing at that age. The aim of this project is to lay the foundations for a mathematical scientific understanding and thus to promote, on a long-term basis, the corresponding competences in / with the smallest ones already. At the same time special attention shall be paid to the early advancement of girls. They are still underrepresented in the technical field when they have to choose a career.




The publication of the PISA Study last winter has shown, that the students’ performance and knowledge in the scientific-technical field is still in great need of support, even in the technically highly developed countries of Europe. In the subjects of mathematics and natural sciences Germany takes the 20th position of 31 countries whose basic achievements were tested in the OECD study[1]. Boys still have a lead over girls in these subjects despite all efforts of equal rights. The question about the causes for the altogether poor performance of German teenagers at the age of approx. 15 years has resulted, within recent months, in the following aspects of discussion[2]:


- How can children learn to use knowledge and competences in application- and   practice-oriented settings?

- How can learning strategies be improved?

- How can we develop a better learning culture?

- How can we make better use of childrens’ “learning windows” and learning periods?


The Role of Nursery Schools in Germany


The last two aspects above all others show that very soon after the PISA Study had been published, the nursery schools had to be included in the discussion about education. The discussion triggered by the results of the study showed the following: Whereas in most countries nursery schools work as educational facilities, the situation in Germany is differnet. Here they have the role of an institution, where parents leave their child for as long a time as possible, so that it may still play a little. Nursery school teachers in Germany are also sceptical about learning: They equate it with achievement pressure and excessive demand, are quick to speak of over-institutionalization and deplore the loss of childhood in general.


Wassilios Fthenakis, director of the Munich State Institute for Early Education and one of the few German scientists who deal with the educational facilities aimed at small children, criticizes the deficits in German nursery schools: “Germany has failed to adequately promote preforms of school learning.” [3]


The only systematic investigation concerning the quality of nursery schools is five years old by now and was conducted by Wolfgang Tietze. He came to the conclusion that two of three nursery schools are only mediocre. In only three of ten nursery school groups there were significant conversations between children and nursery school teachers; common activities did not even constitute 7 % of the observed time[4]. 

In many German nursery schools it’s still a common pre-supposition that the little ones would gladly have it as undemanding as possible, also critizises correspondingly Donata Eschenbroich[5], culture scientist and employee at the German Youth Institute in Munich, whose book “World Knowledge of the Seven-Year Olds – How Children Can Discover the World” figured on the top seller lists of German book traders for several weeks[6].


Primary Education


Developmental psychology has long since discovered so-called “cognitive windows” in the third till fifth year of life: This is the optimal time for the appropriation of accent and basic grammar of a second language, for spacial orientation and for elementary mathematical thinking. The neuro-biologist Ernst Poeppel of Munich reminds accordingly that the years in nursery school are part of the “most important learning phase” and that the institutions therefore should not be institutions for storage, but places where children “acquire knowledge comprehensively and playfully” [7]. The extraordinary teachability of the brain correspondes with a special readiness to learn, which expresses itself within almost all areas as curiosity and thirst for knowledge - and all this still without being influenced by any pressure to do well at school.


Where the education for pre-schoolers might be headed, that is something experts of the European Commission presented as early as 1996 in an action-campaign / programme laid out for ten years: Formation in daycare centres has to promote “an understanding of mathematical, biological scientific, technical and ecological concepts” as well as fine arts and esthetic abilities[8].


Surprisingly enough, the German legislation also leaves little doubt: Nursery schools are educational facilities. Section 22, paragraph 2 of the Children and Youth Welfare Law (KJHG) formulates under the heading “Principles for the Promotion of Children in Daycare Institutions” the following: “The task covers the care, formation and education of the child. The educational and organizational offers have to be tailored to the needs of the children and their families. Thus all Federal States are obliged to realize the educational mission in nursery school[9]. In a judgement made in 1998 the Federal Constitutional Court described nursery schools as a place of the promotion of equal opportunities and emphasized the right of the children to an optimal support and to a balancing of educational disadvantages, going as far as possible, before the beginning of primary school.


Reality looks different. In Germany there are almost no concepts for an early promotion of pre-schoolers[10]. In November 2001 the so-called “Forum Education”, in which Secretaries of Education and Science of the Federal Government and its States cooperate with representatives from science, church and social organizations, published recommendations in which they stress the importance of the early, individual promotion of children, and demand that the day-care centres’ educational goals must be defined. The committee also explicitly emphasized that the research capacities for early childhood education have to be extended and that structures have to be created which make it possible to profit from the positive experiences of the other European countries[11].


Moreover, the 2001 OECD study “Starting Strong - Early Childhood Education and Care” criticizes that Germany and Austria in contrast to all other countries do not offer college or university education for pre-school teachers, so that education usually takes second place behind the minding of children[12]. Germany invests substantially less into the first years of education than for example Austria, Switzerland, the USA and, above all, Scandinavian countries. And we don’t do this despite the obvious connection between a qualitatively good pre-school education and the later school career.


The Federal Republic recruits predominantly women for the youngest children ones, women who not rarely - says Donata Eschenbroich – begin with the baggage of their own unpleasant educational careers and who only just earn over € 1,000 gross[13]. Their own experiences with learning are more often than not unpleasant and they fear all technical and scientific tasks[14]. Their training must therefore also be taken into account if you want to do justice to the educational mission of nursery schools.


First Research Beginnings in Germany


Beginnings that implement educational offers for nursery schools and also cover scientific and technical aspects have existed for some time already, even if they are being discovered only now, after the PISA shock, by a broader public. A pioneer in this respect is surely Gisela Lueck, professor for chemistry didactics at the University of Bielefeld, who has tested scientific experiments in nursery schools for almost ten years and whose habilitation document “Natural Sciences in Early Infancy”[15]  will be, among others, one of the bases of the following remarks. She conducted her experiments in nursery schools with completely different catchment areas. 70 per cent of the children decided to participate in the experiments which were carried out once every week for about 20 minutes. Half a year later nearly half of the children still remembered the experiments and could also explain the principles. Children at this age are obviously open to natural sciences, a fact which is substantiated by the popularity degree of television programmes such as “The Show with the Mouse” (Die Sendung mit der Maus) or “Dandelion” (Löwenzahn). On the other hand, Gisela Lueck would rather not yet speak of “learning” at this age, she prefers the term “to experience” instead.


The development psychologist Elsbeth Stern works in the area of primary education at the Max-Planck-Institute for Education Research in Berlin. In several tests she has proved that children can understand physical laws far earlier than assumed. Children could often surprise us with quite amazing realizations, if we only succeeded in arousing their curiosity. They acquire knowledge in rapid speed if they try out as much as possible by themselves and experiment with objects they are acquainted with from their everyday life[16]. Together with Kornelia Möller, professor for didactics of science in primary school at the University of Münster, she manages a project in which the education quality of schools is examined and which focuses on the learning and teaching of mathematics and natural sciences. They prepare series of lessons about topics like “What happens to a blackamoor head (a chocolate-coated cream cake) in space?”[17]


That a process of reorientation has begun does not only become obvious in the ever increasing numbers of universities that do research on this topic. Also numerous nursery schools have started to look into the matter. And we mustn’t forget the opening of experience-orientated museums, so-called interactive Science Centres, now also in Germany, in which children, parents and educators can find numerous stimulating suggestions[18]. And apart from that there are by now a number of museums that specialize in children[19]. Some industrial enterprises also successfully operate laboratories where children and teenagers can make themselves familiar with the world of natural sciences and technology. Companies such as BASF, Hoechst AG and Bayer AG organize open days and so-called “join-in labs” and organize events which are particularly suitable for children at pre- and primary school age. Experiments are selected carefully and they always have a connection to the childrens’ everyday life[20].


All in all we can vaguely sense that a new era is about to dawn in the Federal Republic regarding the possibilities of scientific-technical early education. So far the effects on the general interest in scientific-technical questions and the acceptance of natural science have not yet however been object of examinations[21]. An analysis of 1345 biographical data of first-year university students in the subject of chemistry who applied for a chemical industry scholarship however, shows the formative influence of an early introduction to phenomena of physics and chemistry . The impulse to work in chemistry was given as early as preschool age in 22 per cent of the test persons[22]. 
























II. Development-psychological, Cognition-psychological and Neurophysiological Conditions for the Introduction of Scientific Phenomena in Early Infancy


A controversial discussion about our pupils’ lack of interest in scientific subjects has not only been led since the results of the Pisa. Contents from the areas of chemistry and physics have an ever smaller importance in the special knowledge lessons in comparison with sociological topics. In secondary schools chemistry and physics as subjects are offered only in the 7th or 9th school year. Too late, many critics say, since the young people develop other interests in this phase of puberty. Consequently those critics demand the introduction to scientific questions at pre-school age, since children in this developmental phase are particularly sensitive / susceptible to these phenomena.

This leads inevitably to the central question, whether an age appropriate introduction to scientific phenomena is at all possible for children at pre-school age and whether and how the teaching of natural sciences in day-care centres makes sense.

In order to answer this question, an analysis of development-psychological, cognition-psychological and neurophysiological findings is essential.

A detailed processing of the current state of research concerning common conceptions of pre-schoolers about the world can be found in the much-acclaimed work of G. Lueck, in which she and pre-school children look at phenomena from inanimate nature with the help of experiments and develop explanations for them[23].


Piaget’s Psychology of Development and Cognition

Look at any discussion about mental development in infancy, and you cannot miss references to Piaget’s psychology of development and cognition[24]. In view of the different prioritizations of Piaget’s test results and the vast quantity of secondary literature with their segmentary views of his research, we will only deal with the relevance of Piaget’s cognitive theory of development for nursery and pre-school age and for early childhood experience with natural sciences.

Piaget groups the infant and pre-school age of the 2-7-year-old children as “pre-operational phase”. Their thinking is still full of logical mistakes, since childlike thinking is more controlled by perception than by logic. It will however be increasingly possible for the child to realise / imagine complete actions on a mental level, if these actions were already carried out in "real life". Conceptual thinking develops in this phase. The child is not yet able, however, to understand all qualities of these concepts[25]. It identifies all men for some time as "dad" and all women as "mum". The child can thus identify objects; its understanding however is incomplete, since it cannot distinguish yet between seemingly identical members of the same concept. Hence the term "pre-conceptual".

In this phase of their development children assume something alive in many things, like in the moon, a doll or other objects of daily life. This animation (animism) in which children attribute supernatural, magical qualities to lifeless objects is an important feature of the early pre-operational phase, just like the difficulty to distance oneself from the own personal perspective and to take someone else’s view (egocentrism).

In order to answer the question, whether children at pre-school age can access scientific phenomena in a way that seems appropriate, it’s particularly important that four- to seven-year-old children hardly succeed to seize invariances. "This is true for the invariance of substance, weight and volume almost in the same way..."[26]. A well-known example of the invariance of liquid quantities is the experiment with two cups. Two identical cups are shown to the child, both are filled with water up to the same level. Then the contents of one cup are poured into a long thin tube. The child, who first said that the quantities were the same in both cups, is now asked whether there is just as much, more or less water in the new container. At the intuitive stage (graphic thinking) he or she will certainly say, it is more, because the water is higher in the tube. In other words, the child pays attention to the misleading perception characteristics of the stimulus situation.

A child in the phase of graphic-intuitive thinking already begins to gradually seize invariances. In this process of successively acquired ability of recognizing invariances the child also loses its egocentrism.


If we summarize the previous remarks, then the child’s pre-operational thinking seems to speak against an early introduction to scientific phenomena.

G. Lueck however states several arguments, which nevertheless make an introduction to scientific phenomena in late nursery- and pre-school (5-6½ years) seem sensible.

Piaget himself points out that some five-year-olds and even more six-year-olds acquired the ability to recognize certain invariances[27], so that we can assume that children are also able to make further logical considerations and to understand certain characteristics of inanimate nature in a meaningful way[28].

G. Lueck states that a certain developmental stage must be reached in order to able to tackle scientific  phenomena, namely "the perception of the changes due to the development of decentring, which leads to the corresponding adaptation processes..."[29]. This means that attention is no longer directed towards only one single object or feature, but the child is increasingly able to take into account more than one point of perception.

In this context G. Lueck refers to different views on Piaget’s stage theory.

Some authors argue against the rigid age limits in his stage theory and justify this with Piaget’s methodical procedure when he determined the respective age of the children, the influence of the media, who contribute to an acceleration of mental developments, and the realization that children develop cognitive abilities of the operational phase earlier than found by Piaget when the tasks given use a situation of the childrens’ actual life as a starting point[30].

To sum up one may say that “cognitive developments don’t take place at the same time in all areas as a function of developmental stages, but that the acquisition of knowledge takes place in specific content areas at different times and in different sequences.”[31] Elsbeth Star of the Max-Planck-Institute for Education Research in Berlin likewise vehemently opposes Piaget’s stage theory. In several tests she could prove that children can understand physical laws way earlier than claimed by Piaget. Fourth graders were able to understand the principle of density as mass per volume and they could show it in a coordinate system[32]. If one follows this argument, an introduction to scientific questions at pre-school age seems sensible.

A further objection to Piaget’s epistemology lies in the fact that it completely ignores affective and emotional aspects. But it’s above all aesthetic aspects, sensory perception as well as the joy in experimenting that are crucial for the first contacts with inanimate nature. For this reason it is important to deal with Erikson’s developmental psychology, since he attaches great importance to the affective aspects in human development.


Erik H. Erikson’s Development-Psychological Approach

Erikson’s development-psychological approach defines the formation of identity as the main problem and major task of any individual. The most important characteristics of the development of an individual identity are, according to Erikson, psycho-sexual and psycho-social developmental crises and a feeling of inner unity (feeling of identity) that makes itself felt every time after a psycho-social crisis (autonomy versus shame and doubt, initiative versus guilt etc.) has been successfully overcome / coped with / mastered. Erikson models his conception of a healthy personality on Marie Jahoda, “according to her, a healthy personality masters his or her environment actively, shows a certain homogeneity and is able to recognize the world and him or herself correctly"[33]. The growth of a personality follows an inner 'basic scheme', "which the individual parts observe, and in which each part goes through a time of predominance, until all parts have grown to be a functioning whole"[34]. This growth takes eight developmental stages, all of which are characterized by "developmental crises":


I.                     Baby age (primeval trust versus distrust)

II.                   Infant age (autonomy versus shame and doubt)

III.                  Play age (initiative and feeling of guilt)

IV.                School age (sense of work versus feeling of inferiority feeling)

V.                  Adolescence (identity versus identity diffusion)

VI.                Early adulthood (intimacy versus isolation)

VII.               Adulthood (reproduction versus self-absorption)

VIII.             Mature adulthood (integrity versus disgust with life)[35]


For our purposes the "play age", which approximately corresponds to nursery- and pre-school age is of special interest.

In this phase the child further develops its identity step by step over the crisis. It starts not to talk about itself in the third person any longer. The child searches and explores its environment; and free play unfolds its special quality. It offers the child the possibility to understand the world. "At this stage three strong developmental pushes help the child, which, however, also accelerate the next crisis:


  1. The child learns to move more freely and more powerfully and thereby gains another unlimited field of activity;
  2. Its language ability perfects itself further so that it can understand and ask a lot of questions, and on the other hand misunderstands all the more;
  3. Language and freedom of movement together extend its world of imagination, so that it is frightened of its own, half dreamed, half thought images (...) Now it learns urgently and energetically: Beyond its own borders and towards future possibilities" and it thereby develops “an insatiable thirst for knowledge."[36]


The basic strength in this phase is the strength of acting resolutely, which is realized in play, it’s not without reason that Erikson calls this phase “play age".

What does the child do in order to find its way in the world? First it looks for ideal models. These are usually the parents, who are perceived as great and powerful. Professional roles such as policeman, firefighter, engine driver or astronaut become interesting. These ideal roles are essentially taken from picture books, fairytales and various other media, in particular television broadcasts and completed by the child’s own imagination. In common play with other children these roles can then be realized interactively. “The childrens’ initiative is supported by increasing mobility, physical drexerity, language skills, cognitive competences and fantasy.” [37]

Gisela Lueck pleads for making use of this phase of thirst for knowledge and for introducing children at nursery- and pre-school age to scientific topics. Experiments with inanimate nature seem particularly suitable at the "play age" phase / “play stage”, since children can thereby test awakening abilities such as reconstructing, interpreting, reasoning etc. The sense of success associated with these experiments offer the children a chance to further consolidate the positive mood experienced toward scientific phenomena while experimenting and to put them on a sound basis.[38]

The childrens’ conceptions and experiences should be used as a starting point when dealing with technical phenomena. Thought processes that widen childrens’ conceptions of technical connections only develop when they actively try to come to terms with their environment.


Kornelia Moeller, who works on the teaching of technology in science lessons at primary school age, is likewise guided by these realizations when she refers to the cognition-psychological work of Aebli. According to Moeller children often acquire a first, still barely conscious knowledge of how to handle technical devices and processes that might well be called IF-THEN knowledge, by actively using them. However, it’s not enough to use technical devices; it’s only “the evaluation of the process and its results, correcting, optimizing and concluding, all in all the reflecting on what has been done” that leads to an understanding and successful outcome of technical and scientific experiments at primary school age.[39]


Neurophysiological Aspects


When you look at the rapid development of neurophysiology in recent years, then the question arises whether findings from this area and/or neurobiology could not be helpful for our study. Although many questions are still open, neuroscientists start to understand increasingly better what in the brain it is that changes during learning.


The most important components of the brain are neurons (nerve cells). These highly specialized cells receive electro-chemical impulses from several sources. When the sum of these impulses exceeds a certain value, they trigger an impulse for their part, which is received by a neighbouring neuron. Researchers say: The neuron fires. The contact points, at which the impulses are picked up from the neighbouring neurons, are called synapses.


The brain potentially contains all prerequisites for thinking and learning already at birth. 70% of the brain capacity can be used for learning, merely 30% are from the beginning reserved for certain things. In the first five to six years of life the human brain is being substantially transformed. A network of 20 billion nerve cells reacts very flexibly to every kind of impression, image and information, by changing the linkages / connections between the nerve cells (synapses). During such stamping / moulding-similar learning processes, the electrical impulses are transferred from one nerve cell to the next by chemical messenger substances (neurotransmitters). Each nerve cell has a transmitter and a multiplicity of receivers at its disposal; these pick up the information of the other nerve cells. The brain converts this information into new structures, or interlaces these with other, already existing / available structures. In this process certain neuro-connections are strengthened, others are weakened, others disappear completely. "This decrease in the number of contact points between the nerve cells is not a loss, but it is a selection. The interconnections which are suitable, which belong, are strengthened and maintained. The ones that are confirmed by the dialogue of the child’s brain with the environment are the ones that are used.[40]" This means that there are time windows or "sensitive phases" in the different phases of the development in early childhood, in which information is taken in at much higher speed and effectiveness than in later phases. Children in these phases are particularly sensitive / susceptible to special influences. Thus those areas in the nervous system which are responsible for music or languages will, in comparison with others, clearly develop more fully if the child is confronted with music from early on or grows up bilingual. It is obvious that there could be also a "sensitive phase" for scientific questions. These structuring processes are in the main complete with puberty, afterwards only the network formed up to then is at the adult’s disposal, what is being learned then will mainly be embedded into this network.




If one summarizes the development-psychological, cognition-psychological and neurophysiological aspects, then the conveyance of natural science experience seems to be quite possible and meaningful at pre-school age. This realization is supported by more and more researchers. They point to the early interest of pre-schoolers in scientific phenomena and support an early, age appropriate access to scientific phenomena.[41]

Children apparently need learning processes which are demanding and comprehensive and which call for mind, psyche and body equally. Learning succeeds more lastingly, when the contents of the experiments come from the childrens’ immediate range of experience, appear in various contexts, appeal to as many senses as possible and can be conducted by the children themselves. Learning situations with a positive atmosphere and in which the children are often praised produce additional motivation. Above all the influence of social role models, like parents and teachers should not be underestimated at pre- and primary school age. The way they radiate certain interests, how lovingly they deal with the children and how variously they use body language is of crucial influence on a child’s learning.





























III. What has learning got to do with gender?


Gender specific differences, theories about their causes and conclusions for pedagogics, that do justice to both genders


Observed behavioural differences between girls and boys


First behavioural differences between girls and boys can already be observed in babies, particularly in the way they make contact. Gender-typical play-interests diversify early. Boys at the age of approximately two years for example already show a strong interest in big play vehicles and in building materials, whereas girls more frequently spend time with dolls and soft toy animals. Romping, scuffling, expansive, loud, competitive, risky and rough motor activity games as well as dominant behaviour are regarded as typical for boys. Games with a high share of caring, nursing and grooming acitivities and cooperative game forms are considered typical for girls.[42]


In the areas of intelligence, abilities and competences fine-motor skills as well as verbal competences are more strongly pronounced in girls and women. Boys and men take the lead in the areas of spatial-visual sense, quantitative-mathematical and analytic thinking.[43] Their social behavior is different as well: Whereas for boys and men competition and dominance, and within this framework self-presentation, play a large role, girls show a rather “pro-social behavior of domincance”.[44] For girls egalitarian structures are usually more important than hierarchical structures. Boys get togehter in cliques with some permeability, whereas girls usually have a close relationship to a (girl) friend. Accordingly girls exchange confidences about personal and emotive topics, whereas boys go out and do things together.


Another crucial difference is self-confidence: Boys and men tend to have too high an opinion of themselves[45], girl and women on the other hand often under-estimate their abilities. This self-assessment is maintained despite contrary test results and it leads to different reactions in the face of difficult tasks. Boys and men think that they can deal with a task and they get down to work on it, even if a successul accomplishment is improbable. Girls and women on the other hand are quick to interpret a failure as a sign of their insufficient competence and consequently lower or completely give up their aspiration level. It’s above all this difference in combination with the different powers of self-assertion that account for gender inequalities in competition and achievement situations, which make it difficult for girls and women to enter certain branches and fields of the world of work.[46]


What needs to be stressed is that there is no characteristic, which exists in only one gender. Thus there are girls with a mathematical gift and who by far exceed the average boy in this point, and the legions of (male) poets and writers should be proof enough that verbal skills are not the exclusive domain of the female sex. All abilities and competences which are called “typically female” or “typically male” can also be observed in the opposite sex and even more strongly pronounced in individuals of the opposite sex than in the statistic average of the sex whose core competence lies in that area. But despite the statistic over-lappings a polarization of the sexes has developed in most cultures, which leads to gender specific career choices and opportunities of advancement and that makes is difficult in particular for girls and women at the present moment to find equal access to some vocational fields. This is partly true for the field of natural sciences, but above all for all jobs that have to do with technology.

Below we will briefly presented how recent research explains these inequalities.


Scientific Approaches at Explanations


Research on Socialisation


Researchers that have been working on socialization for the last 30 years assume that gender roles are culturally formed and that they are presented to the children from their birth on as stereotypes that, by different forms of learning, contribute to the fact that girls and boys very quickly acquire different gender specific abilities, skills and ways of thinking.


Based in different psychological and learn-theoretical models – starting with Freund’s deep-psychological personality model, to different learning theories, to Kohlberg’s model of the acquisition of gender roles - the research on socialization tries to prove that children are strongly pushed toward the acceptance of stereotyped cultural gender roles by identification with psychological parents, imitation of role models and as well by the permanent reinforcement of gender-typical behaviour.


The educational goals which mothers formulate for their daughters and for their sons actually differ in many aspects. Ambition, discipline, moral courage as well as understanding technology and craftmenship are the centre of attention for boys, whereas helpfulness, housekeeping, tenderness and open-mindedness are the educational goals for girls[47]. According to this approach expectations and reinforcement mechanisms of the adult world shape the gender role behaviour of girls and boys.


Apart from biological reasons Eleanor Maccoby stresses the aspect of self-socialisation: Children, who are disposed from birth on to classify everything that they observe in categories[48], notice in a polarizing way that there are two categories of people, arrange them accordingly and mutually strengthen their gender-conformal behaviour in their peer group[49]. “You are not allowed to do this / You cannot do this, because you are a boy / girl.” – “I am allowed to do this / I can do this, because I am a boy / girl.” This would be the behavioural guideline in the coeval group. In this context it is important that at first everything that has a connection to the own sex is regarded as valuable and positive. The affective associations of such judgements gain a particularly high significance and accordingly stick for a long time. The daily “staging” of one’s own gender role, the so-called “doing gender”, can contribute to the phenomenon that on the one hand gender-typical abilities are learned and practiced, while on the other hand the competences of the opposite sex are not acquired at all.


Numerous studies within the field of familial, pre-school and school education prove that parts of a gender role are actually acquired during a process of socialisation and enculturation. This is the only way to explain intensifying developments in the course of school socialisation – like the increasing distance of girls from mathematical and scientific subjects and questions - and the insuing polarization when it comes to the occupation of vocational fields.




Biological and Ethological research


But these research results and the underlying theories are not sufficient as exclusive explanation, because gender specific behavior of individual’s can be observed very early already, before the substantial cognitive and affective learning processes develop. In addition this behaviour can be found - at diverse levels of specificity - in all human cultures. This view is held by Doris Bischof-Köhler, developmental psychologist and pupil of Konrad Lorenz. The examples quoted by her suggest that despite a contrary educational intention, like the one that prevailed in the “Kinderläden” (children’s shops) of the student movement or in the egalitarian communities of the Israeli Kibbuzim, children showed strongly gender-typical behavior.


On the basis of the evolution theory which regards the passing on of one’s genes by procreation and raising of a survivable new generation as the goal of all life, Bischof-Köhler suggests that in the course of millions of years and due to their different biological equipment and the different necessities for “parent investment” [50], men and women developed different strategies of partner search and choice. The male sex developed “a specific orientation toward competition that, “due to the necessity of competing for females, stressed assertive strategies[51]”; the possibility of distributing one’s genes on several females may in addition have required a spatially more expansive behaviour. Females on the other hand, who could bring only a limited number of children into the world, had to be more selective in their partner choice. Since the females invested a lot of time and energy into the long pregnancy and the nursing that followed it, they could develop caring capabilities. In the process of phylogenesis these different emphasis were further favoured by a division of labor, which assigned the task of everyday supply to the women by collecting fruits and plants at close range of home and thus the new generation, while the men developed cooperative work forms in big game hunts and in addition settled conflicts with neighbouring groups.


This is how, according to Bischof-Köhler, a gender specific behavioural pattern developed, which cultures take up in their stereotypes. But these stereotypes are not forced on the children.


It’s rather that right from birth on girls and boys show typical ways of behaviour that respectively provoke different interactional patterns in the mother. While the boys’ health and emotional state after birth are unstable and demand a lot of devotion in the first months, girls are neurally more advanced, emotionally more stable, easier to take care of. Later on girls react and communicate better, they provoke the mother to communicate extensively.


Men and women show different brain-anatomical structures. The lateralisation of the brain is more clearly pronounced in men than in women, whose brain “seems to be more bilaterally organized” [52]. The female corpus callosum contains clearly more nerve tracts than the male one, these favour the exchange between the hemispheres[53]. Although a different brain anatomy could also be the result of thousands of years of socialisation, it was proven that hormoneal influences, in particular androgens, which are dispersed in the prenatal phase, do not only affect the morphology of boys’ sex organs, but also brain structures and thereby behavioural dispositions toward competition and aggressive conflict management, connected with increased spatial-visual competences. The genders’ different styles of thinking could also originate here. Whereas boys think in a rather function- and process-orientated way, thus connecting information with a purpose or a function, girls think statically, in the form of relations, classifications, conceptual combinations. Boys rather use the cognitive strategy of interactively testing interim solutions. Girls first try to understand the whole problem and all its aspects. Bischof-Köhler puts this down to the different phylogenetic functions when women had to consider the whole household and the needs of all its members including many matters of minor importance, whereas men could afford to fade out their surrounding in order to concentrate on a sub-problem.


No judgement should go with the assessment of different cognitive strategies. Bischof-Köhler however assumes that the traditional didactics of mathematics and the generally used tests are rather conceived for male strategies and thus make it make more difficult for girls to develop their abilities. Different core abilities – which could easily be compensated by support - and learning offers, that are not adjusted to boys and girls thinking strategies - this in connection with clearly gender-specific differences in self-confidence[54] and social blanket judgements which grant women fewer chances of success[55] - lead to a successive discrimination of girls in the process of school learning in the subjects mathematics and physics. And also educators support this by different reinforcement behavior towards girls and boys. Contrary to feminist research on socialization Bischof-Köhler does not attribute this to the fact that women - due to a discriminating public opinion - are considered less able to achieve something.


The opposite is true: Since right from the start girls seem relatively easy to handle and supporting, parents and teachers think them capable of more and don’t praise them for many achievements that they consider natural. Since their workstyle, diligence and conduct are usually inconspicuous, girls are predominantly reproached for intellectual mistakes. Boys on the other hand are reproached in all areas, but they are most frequently praised for intellectual achievements. Due to their genetically determined social and moral competence girls take reproaches to heart more[56]. “Thus the different point balances of praise and reproach cause different effects on the self-respect of the sexes, with a positive effect in the case of the boys and a negative one in the case of the girls.”[57] Although girls are looked upon favourably, a more negative self-perception and possibly weaker achievements result at the end.


When the sexes enter into competition, e.g. in co-educative situations and later also in the world of work, girls and women usually lose. In mixed-sexual situations boys clearly behave dominantly[58], while girls show inhibition under competition pressure[59]. Bischof-Köhler also attributes this to their basic biological equipment.

Gender[60] Mainstreaming[61] Principle of the European Union


Even if humans may have acquired gender specific behavioural dispositions in millions of years, different core abilities don’t justify preference or exclusion strategies regarding educational or vocational decisions. In all States of the European Union an increasing number of women work. The EU has made vocational equalization of the sexes its express goal. In order to reach this goal, the Gender Mainstreaming Principle became an integral part of the Amsterdamer Treaty of 1st May 1999 and it assumed concrete form through the 1999 guidelines concerning employment policies. The principle means that all measures of the European Union of its members are to be examined as to their possible effects on both sexes and can only be realized if they support equal chances for both, men and women. Right from the outset and in all political areas gender specific interests must be taken into account. The principle aims at equal chances of employment for both sexes and an equal distribution of paid work. [62]


Considerations Regarding the Educational Procedure in Early Technical Education


If one regards the different dispositions, attitudes, behaviours and processing forms of boys and girls, it might become clear that early technical education cannot be sex neutral. It’s aim is not egalitarianism[63] but equal chances. Just like in all EU measures the effects on both sexes have to be considered beforehand, we also have to ask before every project, every set-up of a new area for playing and learning and also in everyday situations in day-care institutions:


-     Do gender-specific standards and values exist in the institution and can these lead to a difference in appreciation or to differences in the opportunities to learn, develop and participate?

-     Are there opportunities to participate or are there entrance barriers (regarding activities, space, time), which depend on the childrens’ gender?

-     Is there a distribution of educational attention that depends on gender?

-     Does the group tolerate or support gender-specific behaviour of dominance and competition in case it reduces the opportunities of the other sex?

-     Do the possibilities of access to play-, learning and experimentation materials differ for boys and girls?

-     Is it necessary to take special strengths and weaknesses or special thinking structures of one sex into consideration in certain learning and play situations?

-     Is it necessary to particularly motivate and encourage the girls in the area of technology?

-     Does it make sense to tailor the organization of experimentation and construction tasks to the respective interests of the sexes?

-     Does it occasionally make sense to work with separate groups of boys and girls?










IV. Early Technical Education by Audio-Visual Media:

Television, Radio, Cassettes, Computer Games, Internet


Children at the age of 4-6 years already have a pronounced / distinct / strong interest in scientific and technical facts. This shows above all in the fact that the media have been providing schoolchildren and pre-schoolers with a broad variety of cientific and technical contents for years. In the German educational system sciences are nevertheless only taught systematically in secondary school, i.e. “… the media get children interested in scientific topics long before our educational system intends to teach natural sciences.” [64]

On the basis of G. Lueck’s study, which deals with the conveying of natural sciences in early infancy[65], the following chapter will examine which media convey scientific topics, to what extent pre-schoolers make use of the offer and whether children at this age are able to follow the presented technical and/or scientific facts at all.


In her study regarding audiovisual media Gisela Lueck mentions above all the classic media television, radio and cassettes through which children at pre- and primary school age acquire knowledge about animate and inanimate nature. Lately, however, the modern communication media also prove to be very interesting for children: Beside computer games, the Internet also gains increasing importance as a fountain / supplier of knowledge for 4-8 year-old children[66].


3-9 year-old spectators still regard television as a popular medium of entertainment and in addition, as a source of information about scientific questions[67]. The programmes which offer scientific contents meanwhile take up a broad spectrum. The most successful children’s programmes (“success” in this sense is measured by the height of ratings), in which also technological contents or topics from inanimate nature appear are “Die Sendung mit der Maus” (The Show with the Mouse), “Löwenzahn” (Dandelion) and Sesamstrasse (Sesame Street).


Every week 300,000 children between the ages of 3 and 5 years and just as many between 6 and 9 years watch “The Show with the Mouse”. “Fact stories” take up approximately 30 % of the programme and many contributions also deal with scientific matters such as the phenomena ‘air’, ‘swimming and sinking’ or ‘the candle’. Also more complex scientific-technical questions are picked as main features / central themes, e.g. “Why does a perm keep / stay?” or “What happens when you cook a potato?” but also “How does a nuclear power plant work?”


The audience ratings for “Dandelion”, a programme produced by ZDF (the second channel of public German television), are lower than for “The Show with the Mouse”. The magazine which addresses children of 5-9 years, focuses on ecological questions, yet topics of inanimate nature are likewise dealt with: 42 out of 136 shows can be assigned to this subject area, for example, states of aggregation of water, air, salt, swimming and sinking, but also the examination of objects and substances (from their production and/or origin to recycling) which children are familiar with from their everyday life: Oil, glass, coal etc.


“Unlike ‘The Show with the Mouse’ or ‘Dandelion’ the scientific share in ‘Sesame Street’ is considerably smaller, although it is nevertheless explicitly intended / planned in the conception of the show.” [68] Special emphasis is given to social learning in this show that many parents regard as very suitable. Cognitively oriented factual issues from the childrens’ environment are clearly less taken into account than in the two programmes mentioned before.


To what extent are children between the ages of 3 and 9 years, however, able to take in and understand technical-scientific contents presented on television? In their study “Information Processing by Children” the media-psychologists Hertha Sturm and Sabine Joerg have developed three criteria on the basis of Jean Piaget’s development-psychological approach. According to these criteria, learning-psychological prerequisites  for an understanding of scientific contents are fulfilled:

  1. „comment on what is shown so that the child’s attention is better directed,
  2. a unidirectional course of action,
  3. taking into account the child’s egocentrism by a small number of perspective changes.“

In both programmes, “The Show with the Mouse” and “Dandelion”, these three criteria for child-adequate television are met, and have been increasingly met in recent years because of the constant development of these programmes. For lack of studies on reception it remains nevertheless impossible to specify to what exact extent a pre-schooler can actually cognitively follow the technical-scientific facts that are presented on the screen.


The auditory media (radio as well as sound storage media) also take up the topic of conveying technical-scientific contents. Younger children value auditory media more than older ones; in addition, hearing is a particularly emotional sense of perception – a dissociation from what it has heard is more difficult for a child than a dissociation from contents that it has perceived visually. [69]


Different public radio stations also produce programmes for children with a technical-scientific share, even though this share is small. These shows are mostly aimed at children at primary school age. Scientific studies on the reception of these childrens’ programmes, however, do not exist, so that also within this field, similar to television, there are no reliable findings as to what children actually do take in, understand, and remember of the presented topics.


Children have access to cassettes very early: already 70 % of the four-year-old children are familiar with the respective devices.[70] The mass-market of cassettes for children is above all economically orientated and therefore media critics frequently describe the productions as “auditory trash”. “Since cassettes usually exploit topics that have already proven successful in other media - the media syndicate contributes much to the commercialization in this field - the industry is considered as hostile to innovation. (...) Low quality standards in production are possible because buyers react rather indifferently, obviously make only little artistic demands and differentiated orientation possibilities for the broad public, for instance in the form of reviews, press reports etc. are missing.” [71]


As an outstanding example of a very wide-spread cassette Lueck presents the series “Benjamin Bluemchen” (market share: 15,4 %!) and states that the technical-scientific share in the treated topics is only marginal. Lueck says that scientific contents in “Benjamin Bluemchen” are frequently presented in such a complex way that it is almost impossible for children to understand them. The respective background is often not explained. So “(...) a rather nature-hostile idea / image of technology will settle with young listeners.”[72]


Beside television and cassettes, computers have become an integral part of the world experience of pre- and primary school children. There are numerous games and learning programmes, which are adjusted to the different age groups and the childrens’ developmental stages. Literature distinguishes between different types of PC games (e.g. so-called strategy-games, action games, learning games).[73] Small children can already use a computer within the possibilities corresponding to their respective stage of development: There is something to see, to feel, to hear; one can point at something, it moves, figures possess well-known characteristics of organisms or objects etc. The competences and skills which can be acquired by playing lie in the fields of fine / precise motor activity, reactions, concentration, creativity, problem solving skills, only to mention some. Thus ever more day-care facilities integrate the PC into their didactic offer / work, although the inhibitions to use (new) media in educational work are frequently still strong with the pedagogical staff.

In Reggio’s pedagogy on the other hand - a very progressive educational approach that sees the child as “co-creator of its own knowledge”, an inquiring and problem-soving being equipped with various abilities and competences[74] - “(...) the handling of a computer (...) is part of everyday life for the five- to six-year old children in the local day-care centres (...). They make this medium part of their games, (...) or they concern themselves in projects with the insides of this medium.”[75]


For pre- and primary school children there is already a large number of computer games, which are used with unabashed interest by 3-year-old children as well.[76] Many so-called edutainment games (derived from education and entertainment) go beyond “mere playing” and convey information worth knowing in passing or explicitly. CD Roms that playfully convey technical-scientific knowledge to children of 4 years or older also figure under this heading. Games which recruit their identification figures from children’s TV broadcasts, e.g. from “Dandelion” enjoy of large popularity. The children can interactively acquire information on different topics from animate, but also inanimate nature (e.g. earth-water-air) or test existing knowledge.


Contrary to the frequently uttered assumption, that the Internet was not yet for children, children are about to conquer the Internet, too. By now there are some hundred websites, which address particularly children. In this context it’s frequently the nursery school teachers who show disconcertion, who do not know how to deal with this topic, since they often are not yet sufficiently qualified to deal with the computer and/or also the Internet. Pedagogically meaningful analyses and help are offered by the recently published manuals of Michael Kobbeloer “Internethandbuch fuer Erzieherinnen und Erzieher” (Internet Manual for Educators) (2002)[77] and Christine Feil (ed.) “Internet für Kinder. Hilfen für Eltern, Erzieher und Lehrer” (Internet for Children. Assistance for Parents, Educators and Teachers) (2001)[78].


Search engines and portals particularly set up for children also offer the possibility of attaining information about technical-scientific contents. The children’s search engine “” (blind man’s buff) offers a separate category: “knowledge”, which is linked with different topics, and also deals with inanimate nature. So far, however, there are no studies that deal with the way children use the Internet and possible effects of Internet use on children regarding the appropriation of technical-scientific topics.


To sum up one can say a pronounced interest of children at pre- and primary school age concerning technical-scientific facts can be observed. The media take up this interest in different ways: While children’s TV broadcasts with scientific contents show surprisingly high ratings even with younger children, the modern communication media enjoy an increasing popularity with still younger addressees, since here technical-scientific topics can be acquired interactively.


In connection with the topic “media” early technical education gains a complex importance, when you consider that the teaching of media competence in nursery- and primary school includes the active handling of technical equipment, when at the same time the media themselves can also convey contents from the technical-scientific field. To make this complexity accessible to the children, that is the task of the pedagogical personnel that work in pre- and primary schools.












































V. Possibilities of a Methodical-Didactical Translation of Scientific and Technical Topics into Practice


In a discussion with Donata Elschenbroich, Arthur Fischer, Dr. Wolfgang Einsiedler, Dr. Gisela Lueck, Dr Gabriele Koening and Dr. Ulrich Kramer all stress the importantce of imparting technical and scientific phenomena in early infancy.[79]


In his retirement Arthur Fischer of the Fischer-company (“Fischer-Technik”) supports young inventor’s clubs and organizes “tinkler competitions” for children and teenagers. He’s made it his duty to carry “new ideas into the children’s world”. In the discussion with Donata Elschenbroich he says that each child is full of ideas, which fade after a few years in school, because school presses the children into a corset, which does not suit them at all. He thinks that the handling and contact with technical materials should be encouraged early. In this context he mentions a recently discovered material made of corn semolina. It can be used to produce building blocks that can be glued and cut and therefore seems particularly fit for the simple creative play of younger children. With the help of this material called “Fischer-Tip” he wants to create a new movement that “gets creativity going” again.[80]


Wolfgang Einsiedler, didacticist at the Institute for Primary School Didactics at the University of Erlangen has observed that the years before the primary school are not taken seriously in the field of general scientific knowledge. He illustrates how the naïve concepts that children have concerning scientific phenomena can be trained, understood and extended. He goes on to say that early experiences with objects and materials help the child to form his or her identity. In this context it is important to keep and encourage the children’s interest in scientific topics. In the instruction process emphasis should not only be put on concrete and graphic “images”, but the step towards abstraction should to be taken as well. He points out that processes of reflection and symbolization should already be encouraged in nursery schools.[81]


In the discussion with Donata Elschenbroich Gisela Lueck makes clear that the significance of the natural sciences in the national curriculum - above all the subjects physics and chemistry - has been decreasing since the 60's, whereas on the other hand the natural sciences have become ever more important for society in general. In the further course of the discussion she describes the importance of instructing children in the phenomena of inanimate nature in pre-school (detailed remarks about how to translate this into practice in a methodical-didactical way follow below).[82]


Gabriele Koenig, vice director of the Fulda Academy describes the possibilities of conveying scientific-technical contents: The Academy offers plenty of courses and projects in which children can acquire knowledge by working practically and close to reality. In the courses and projects children work together with artists, scientists and craftsmen. The products of their work enter the Academy’s permanent exhibition. G. Koenig makes clear that the co-operation with experts and specialists causes a certain fascination in the children which gives their tinkering and researching a special seriousness. The presentation of all products that have been created in the workshops in the Academy’s museum engenders respect and appreciation of their own work in the children.[83]


Ulrich Kramer, founder of the first computer schools for children in Germany (“profikids”) points out that it is especially important for children to handle computers, since they will not get around working with them. In this context he says that an early contact with the computer makes it become something natural for the children.

In his courses for young children he offers a lot of variety: children learn to handle computer games in which they sort colors and shapes, put puzzle together, develop small logical rows, or get to know first letters and numbers, just to give some examples. And in addition Kramer offers the appropriate data banks and knowledge programmes for this age group.[84]


In the conversations with Donata Elschenbroich it becomes obvious that an early contact with technical and scientific topics is important for the further development of a child. When you turn to literature to search for possibilities to systematically introduce such topics at pre-school age, you will find a vast number of books that contain numerous interesting experiments. References to systematic research or possibilities for a methodical-didactical approach in the social-educational practice are scarce.


Gisela Lueck has extensively dealt with the conveying of natural sciences in early infancy.[85]


Presentation of the Experimental Series “Natural Sciences in Early Infancy” [86]


Reasons for the selection of contents:

Gisela Lueck focuses on experiments concerning inanimate nature, since in her opinion inadequately greater importance is given to topics from animate nature in early infancy. In this context she points out that the curricula for scientific instruction as well as introductory instruction, but also the course contents at the School for Social Pedagogy in the scientific subjects refer to a large extent to biological topics. Among others she gives the following reasons for the selection of experiments concerning inanimate nature:

-     Experiments concerning inanimate nature are available all year round, which offers the opportunity to repeat and change an experiment and to reconstruct the laws of nature in miniature.

- The advantage of discussing topics from inanimate nature with children is the simple interpretation of many phenomena.

-     Phenomena of inanimate nature are involved in many biological processes.

-     In the science lessons in primary school as well as in secondary education physico-chemical questions don’t get the attention they deserve.

-     Studies show that a broad spectrum of intuitive scientific knowledge is already available in early infancy and can be used as a starting point.


Requirements for the conduct of scientific experiments in day-care facilities


-     Obeyance of safety regulations

The selection of the materials used and set-up of the experiments must obey safety regulations. No risks that might endanger anybody’s heath should be taken. The series only makes use of materials that are usually available in any household.


-     Use of inexpensive and easily available materials

The experiments mostly make use of materials that are available in day-care facilities anyway. This keeps the financial burden as small as possible and ensures that the materials are at hand. The children can therefore repeat the experiments at home.


-     Reliably successful outcome of the experiments

For pre-schoolers a reliably successful outcome of the experiments is absolutely necessary, since in case of failure the children can not fall back on any scientific foreknowledge that they could use to discuss the unexpected outcome.


-     Convey a basic scientific interpretation


      The experiment should be accessible by a simple scientific interpretation, so that apart from the symbolizations a rational-scientific interpretation alternative can be offered.


-     Experimental feasibility for pre-schoolers

In order to successfully promote active participation and autonomy it is important that the children experiment independently. Furthermore age-dependent conditions, like the inability to precisely measure out liquids, must be taken into consideration when experiments are selected.


-     Connection to everyday life

A connection to everyday life suggests itself since in case of a recognition or repetition at home the depth of the impression experiences a greater boost.


-     Duration of 20 minutes

Children can usually concentrate for 20 minutes while working on a team.


-     Systematic set-up

The systematic set-up of the experiments is supposed to exercise a positive influence on the depth of the impression.


Selection criteria for the structure of the experimental series

The children’s intuitive, basal concept of knowledge serves as substantial criterion for the choice of the experiments. Further criterium is the general set-up as mentioned above.[87]


Methodical principles for the conduct of the experimental series

-     In order to gain and keep the children’s attention it is important to place the experimental set-up in a clearly visible and defined area.

-     The respective materials should be presented with care and they shoud be clean.

-     A framesetting refering to the experiments, for example in form of a story increases the children’s interest.

-     The children should not be given too many theoretical explanations, it is the experience of experimenting that is important: “When I do this, then that happens!”

-     The experiments should be offered once a week.



Gisela Lueck carried her experiments out in nursery schools with completely different catchment areas. Over a longer period of approximately seven weeks more or less 70 - 80% of the children voluntarily participated in the experiments. The childrens’ memory ability was surprisingly high. After approximately three to six months approximately 30% of the experiments could be reconstructed without assistance, another 20% could be remembered with a little support. Empirical studies show that children that were considered difficult or unconcentrated, and also children with handicaps participated with a particularly large interest in the experimental series.


Further recommendations concerning the methodical-didactical translation into practice, especially for “physical experiments” can be found with Mireille Hibon and Elizabeth Niggemeyer.[88]

Mireille Hibon has been studying the “secrets of physics” in the école maternelle for 20 years with 5-6 year-old children. At first it began with simple experiments, which touched off a large interest on the childrens’ part. The open-mindedness of the children, their genuine and keen questioning for the phenomena of life encouraged her to carry on. In the book translated by Elizabeth Niggemeyer “Spielzeug Physik” (Toy Physics) she briefly refers to methodical-didactical principles.

Structure of the experiments

M. Hibbon presents two possibilities of offering children experiments:

-     Demonstration of the experiment by the nursery school teacher

While the educator shows the children the experiment the children can observe and ask questions. In this context it is important not to give the children rash answers but to set the children thinking by stimulating questions and to make personal discoveries possible for them.

After the experiment the children can draw what they have discovered, afterwards the pictures are discussed and the children can experiment by themselves.

-     The children are given selected materials for “playing”

First the children have the possibility to play and experiment with the selected material. The childrens’ questions and statements are taken up by the educator, in order to search for solutions that everybody can agree on. After this the children are again asked to paint and comment on their discoveries.

Each child is equipped with a folder in which it can collect the drawings.


Experimentation material

For the experiments everyday articles e.g. aquariums, candles, compasses, ballons, magnifying glasses, screws, old eyeglasses are placed at the childrens’ free disposal.



Thomas Denning presents methodical-didactical ways of handling media.[89]

He distinguishes between topic-centered and open media projects. The following table gives an overview of important principles for carrying out media projects.[90]


Several single activities follow one another

Starting point

A learning process develops from an impulse, its course and result have not been laid down  in advance

Orientated towards the goals that the educators have chosen for the children


Orientated towards the needs that children utter

Decisions made by adults are emphasized


Decisions are made by both, children and adults are equal

Organised learning process, planned in advance

Learning process

Open learning process

Children are directed towards specific learning objectives


Children co-operate with educator and together they decide on different equally important contents

Educators have to motivate


Group motivates itself

Educators direct the learning process

Role of educator

Educator accompanies the learning process


Thomas Denning explains the principles in detail and presents an example of a media project.[91]


The possibilities of the use of computers in nursery school and day-care are presented in the project report of the School for Social Pedagogics in Luedinghausen.[92]

The project of the School for Social Pedagogics in Luedinghausen tested, in co-operation with three social-educational institutions, possible uses of computers in pre-school facilities. The institutions involved in the project tested various possible uses:

-          AWO (Workers’ Welfare Association) day-care centre, Duelmen: Use of the computer during free play phases, integration of the PC into a project

-          St. Benedikt nursery school, Herbern: Promotion of individual children through the work at the PC, formation of a computer work group

-          Children’s house at the Luchtbach, Duelmen (day-care centre): Use of the computer as learning aid and leisure activity, creation of a nursery magazine


The general set-up of the individual institutions and the results of the project are presented and described in the project report.[93]


It’s an essential task of the project “Early Technical Education” to develop further concrete concepts for the methodical-didactical implementation of scientific and technical topics on the basis of the possibilities described above.










































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[1] Results in detail see or J. Baumert (ed.): PISA 2000: Basiskompetenzen von Schülerinnen und Schülern im Vergleich. Verlag Leske und Budrich GmbH. 2001. (Basic competences of students in comparison)

[2] Also see P. Dobbelstein / M. Gasse: Schieflagen. Was können aus PISA über Lernen lernen? In: forum schule. Magazin für Lehrerinnen und Lehrer. 1/2002. S. 14ff. (Distortions. What can we learn about learning from PISA?)

[3]Qquotation taken from FOCUS 43/2002. S. 74.

[4] Wolfgang Tietze: Wie gut sind unsere Kindergärten? Berlin 1997. (How good are our nursery schools?) The study documents how nursery school teachers deal with  children in their care in more than 100 nursery schools.

[5] Donata Eschenbroich: Verwandelt Kindergärten in Labors, Ateliers, Wälder. In: DIE ZEIT 44/2001. (Turn nursery schools into labs, studios, woods)

[6] Donata Eschenbroich: Weltwissen der Siebenjährigen. Wie Kinder die Welt entdecken können. München 2001. (World-knowledge of seven-year olds. How children can discover the world)

[7] Zit. nach FOCUS 43/2002. S.74

[8] Zit. nach Susanne Mayer: Fünf Sterne für die Kleinsten. Was ist ein guter Kindergarten. In Deutschland herrschen beliebige Maßstäbe. In: DIE ZEIT 45/2001. (Five stars for the little ones. What is a good nursery school. In Germany measures are random.)

[9] Norbert Reichel: Der Kindergarten in Deutschland – ein Haus des Lernens oder bloß ein nettes Kinderzimmer? In: Schulverwaltung NRW. Nr. 3/2002. S. 80. (Nursery schools in Germany – a place for learning or only a nice place?)

[10] Wassilio Fthenakis and the Institute for Early Education in Munich are planning to present the first draft of a concept for early advancement in Bavarian daycare institutions in mid 2003. See.: Fthenakos, Wassilio: Bildung und Erziehung für Kinder unter sechs Jahre. Der bayerische Bildungs- und Erziehungsplan. (Formation and education for children under 6. The Bavarian plan of education. In: ; BQ – Konzeptionelle Neubestimmung von Bildungsqualität in Tageseinrichtungen für Kinder mit Blick auf den Übergang in die Grundschule. Hg. v. Staatsinstitut für Frühpädagogik. (Conceptional re-determination of  the qualitiy of education in daycare centers for children, also considering the transition to primary school) München 2001.

[11] Recommendations I of „Forum Education“ of November 2001. In: See recommendations II giving practical examples.

[12] Quotation see above, p. 81

[13] Eschenbroich, Donata: Weltwissen, p. 16

[14] In primary school many female teachers still avoid technology related topics in science lessons because they feel incompetent or afraid. See Kornelia Möller: Grundlegung technischer Bildung in der Primarstufe (Thesen). In: Technische Allgemeinbildung. Berichtsband der 5. Hochschultage Technikunterricht an der Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg. 19. -20. November 1998. (Laying the foundations for technical education in primary school)

[15] Gisela Lück: Naturwissenschaften im frühen Kindesalter. Untersuchungen zur Primärbegegnung von Kindern im Vorschulalter mit Phänomenen der unbelebten Natur. Münster 2000. (Natural Sciences in Early Infancy. Research concerning initial meetings of pre-school children with phenomena of inanimate nature)

[16] See Elsbeth Stern: Die Entwicklung des mathematischen Verständnisses im Kindesalter. Berlin 1998. (Development of mathematical thinking in infancy)


[17] Max Rauner: „Was hohl ist, schwimmt oben“ -  Wie ABC-Schützen und ihre Lehrer für Wissenschaft und Technik begeistert werden. In: DIE ZEIT 10/2002. („When something is hollow, it swims“ – How school beginners and their teachers become enthused about science and technology)

[18] In the North of Germany e.g. Bremen-Universe, Bremen.

[19] See Lück, Naturwissenschaften im frühen Kindesalter, p.86 ff. : (Natural Sciences in Early Infancy)

[20] See above, p. 90

[21] See above, p. 91

[22] Meichsner, Beate: Vakuum in der Sesamstraße. Die Vermittlung der Naturwissenschaften kommt in Deutschland zu spät, trotz Forschungen, die ein starkes Interesse der Kinder belegen. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. 9. April 2002. (Vacuum in Sesame Street. The teaching of natural sciences in Germany starts too late despite research that proves the childrens’ strong interest)


[23] Lück, Gisela: Naturwissenschaften im frühen Kindesalter, p. 92 ff (Natural Sciences in Early Infancy)

[24]Lück, Gisela: see above, p. 92, and also: Oerter, Rolf / Montada, Leo (ed.) 1995 “Entwicklungspsychologie: Ein Lehrbuch”, see above

[25] "A concept stands for or represents a series of common features in a group of schemes, ideas or symbols. (...) Concepts represent conceptionaized features of many events". In: Mussen, P.H.u.a. Lehrbuch der Kinderpsychologie 1.Auflage Stuttgart: Klett 1976. S.282 (Textbook of Child Psychology)

[26] Lück, Gisela: see above, p. 95

[27] 16% of five-year olds and 34% of six-year olds had a grasp of the invariance of substances.

[28] Lueck, Gisela: see above, p. 98

[29] Lueck, Gisela: see above, p. 99

[30] Also see the remarks concerning criticism of Piaget. In: Grueninger, Chr. & Lindemann, F. Vorschulkinder und Medien. Leske & Budrich, Opladen 2000, p. 14 (Pre-school children and media)

[31] see Lueck, Gisela: see above, p.100 f

[32] Max-Planck-Institut for Education Research Berlin:

[33] Erikson, Erik H.: Identität und Lebenszyklus. Frankfurt 1977. 4th edition, p.57 (Identity and life cycle)

[34] Erikson, Erik H.: see above, p.57

[35] see Erikson (1977). p.150

[36] Erikson (1977). p.87ff

[37]Miller, Patricia H.: "Theorien der Entwicklungspsychologie." Spektrum Akademie Verlag. 1997, S. 161

[38] see Lueck, Gisela: p.108

[39] Möller, K. Kinder auf dem Wege zum Verstehen von Technik – Zur Förderung technikbezogenen Denkens im Sachunterricht. Skript WWU-Münster. Juni 1998 (Children on their way to an understanding of technology – About the advancement of technology-related thinging in science lessons)

[40]Quotation Ruxandra Sireteanu. Max-Plank-Institute for Brain Research. Frankfurt/M. on the TV show "Globus" about the topic "Brain and Learning" 20th March 2002. See:

[41] See e.g. Lueck, Gisela: p.219, Scheich, H. and Gundelfinger, E.: Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg. In: Magdeburger Volksstimme, 27th September.2002 and Elsbeth Stern in:




[42] Bischof-Köhler, Doris: Von Natur aus anders. Die Psychologie der Geschlechtsunterschiede, Stuttgart 2002, p. 376 f. (Different by nature. The psychology of gender differences)

[43] See above, p. 234.

[44] See above, p. 317.

[45] See above, p. 271.

[46] See above, p. 262.

[47] Faulstich-Wieland, Hannelore: Geschlecht und Erziehung. Grundlagen des pädagogischen Umgangs mit Mädchen und Jungen. Darmstadt 1995, p. 100. (Gender and Education) The book also contains a summary of crucial results of research concerning gender-specific socialisation.

[48] See: Zimmer, Dieter E.: So kommt der Mensch zur Sprache. Über Spracherwerb, Sprachentstehung und Sprache & Denken. München 1996. (This is how humans acquire language. About language acquisition, development and language and thinking)

[49] See Prestl, Bernhard: Maccoby, Eleanor E. (2000): Psychologie der Geschlechter. Sexuelle Identität in den verschiedenen Lebensphasen. In:,  p. 2 (Psychology of gender. Sexual identity in different phases of life)

[50] See above, Bischof-Köhler, p. 112ff.

[51] See above, p. 371. This refers to aggressions that appear in competitions.

[52]See above, p. 240

[53] Eberhard-Metzger, Claudia: Eva war zuerst da. In: (Eve was there first)

[54] This also can be explained biologically. See Bischof-Köhler, p. 298ff

[55] See above, p. 277

[56] See above, p. 359 ff

[57] See above, p. 283

[58] See above, p. 326

[59] See above, p. 328

[60] The word „gender“ refers , in contrast to the word „sex“ which in English refers to the biological aspects of belonging to one of the sexes, to the socially and culturally defined aspects of the roles of women and men.

[61] The term „Mainstreaming“ shows that it does not refer to individual measures but to general political concepts and measures.

[62] Stiegler, Dr. Barbara: Wie gender in den mainstream kommt.  In: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung: Digitale Bibliothek. (How gender gets into the mainstream)

[63] If you follow Bischof-Köhler’s reasoning, masculinity and femininity are not placed on the same level as the gender-typical characteristics that develop in playing, learning and working behaviour.

[64] Lueck, Gisela: Leichte Experimente für Eltern und Kinder. Freiburg 2000. p. 132. (Simple Experiments for Parents and Children)

[65] Lück, Gisela: Naturwissenschaften im frühen Kindesalter. Essen 2000. (Natural Sciences in Early Childhood)

[66] Kobbeloer, Michael: Internethandbuch für Erzieherinnen und Erzieher. Berlin 2002. (Internet Manual für Nursery-School Teachers)

[67] Accoring to a recent study 3-9 year old children watch TV between 81 and 96 minutes every day. See: Feierabend, Sabine und Windgasse, Thomas: Was Kinder sehen. Eine Analyse der Fernsehnutzung 1996 von Drei- bis 13jährigen. In: Media-Perspektiven 4. 1997. P. 186 ff. (What children watch. An analysis of the use of TV by 3-6 year old children in 1996)

[68] Lueck: Naturwissenschaften im frühen Kindesalter. P. 60. (Natural Sciences in Early Childhood)

[69] Rogge, Jan-Uwe: Hören als Erlebnis. (Listening as experience) In: Schill, Wolfgang and Baacke, Dieter (ed.): Kinder und Radio. Frankfurt /M. 1996. P. 30 ff. (Children and Radio)

[70] Rogge: see above. P. 34.

[71] Lueck: Naturwissenschaften im frühen Kindesalter. P. 79. (Natural Sciences in Early Childhood)

[72] Lueck: see above. P. 82.

[73] See e.g. Fritz, Juergen: Zur „Landschaft“ der Computerspiele. (Concerning the „Landscape” of Compurter Games) In: Dichanz, Horst (ed.): Handbuch Medien. Bonn 1998. P. 81-97. (Handbook Media)

[74] See Dreier, Annette: Was tut der Wind, wenn er nicht weht? Begegnung mit der Kleinkindpädagogik in Reggio Emilia. Berlin 1993. (What does the Wind do when it doesn’t blow? Meeting the Pedagogy of Young Children)

[75] Krieg, Elsbeth: Raumschiff zwischen zwei Intelligenzen. Computer im Kindergartenalltag. In: Welt des Kindes. 03.1997. (Spaceship between two intelligent beings. Computers in the Daily Work in Kindergarten)

[76] Feibel, Thomas: Kindersoftware-Ratgeber 1999. Lernen, Wissen, Spiel und Spaß. München 1998. (Guide to Software for Children 1999. Learing, Knowledge, Games and Fun)

[77] see above

[78] Feil, Christine (ed.): Internet für Kinder. Hilfen für Eltern, Erzieher und Lehrer. Opladen 2001. (Internet for Children. Assistance for Parents, Educators and Teachers)


[79] Elschenbroich, Donata: Weltwissen der Siebenjährigen. München 2001. (World Knowledge of Seven-year-olds)

[80] vgl. Fischer, Arthur in Elschenbroich, Donata: see above p. 84-90.

[81] vgl.Einsiedler, Wolfgang in Elschenbroich, Donata: see above p. 90-98.

[82]  See Lueck, Gisela in Elschenbroich, Donata: see above p. 98-106.

[83] See König, Gabriele in Donata Elschenbroich: see above p. 106-114.

[84] See Kramer, Ulrich in Elschenbroich, Donata: see above p. 115-118.

[85] Lück, Gisela: Naturwissenschaften im frühen Kindesalter. Essen 2000.

[86] vgl. Lück, Gisela: a.a.O. S. 115-177.

[87] Die Begründung für die Zusammmenstellung und den Aufbau einer konkreten Experimntiereihe ist bei Gisela Lück: a.a.O. S. 132-135 ausgeführt.

[88] Hibon, Mireille,und Elisabeth Niggemeyer: Spielzeug Physik. Neuwied, Kriftel und Berlin 1998.

[89] Denning, Thomas: Medien erleben und gestalten. Berlin 1999.

[90] Denning Thomas: a.a.O. Seite 148.

[91] vgl. Denning,Thomas. a.a.O. S.148-159.

[92] Richard-von-Weizsäcker Berufskolleg. Fachschule für Sozialpädagogik: Beziehungskiste Computer. Lüdinghausen 2000.

[93] vgl.: Richard-von-Weizsäcker Berufskolleg: a.a.O. S. 10-17.

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