Science teaching

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Social studies in Germany is the most widely used technical term for the pertinent instruction in the elementary school and in certain special schools up to the secondary level . In three federal states there are different names: Heimat- und Sachunterricht (HuS or HSU; Bavaria), Heimat-, Welt- und Sachunterricht (Schleswig-Holstein) and Heimat- und Sachunterricht (Thuringia).

At all German universities in the 16 federal states, the subject or field of study is called "Sachunterricht". The associated scientific discipline is called " Sachunterrichtsdidaktik ".

Development and goals

General teaching emerged from the realities of the 18th century, the visual pedagogy of the 19th century and the local history of the 20th century. The history of the development of general science is to be understood and historically located in the context of the socio-cultural development towards the modern knowledge society. General teaching was first described under this term by Friedrich Wilhelm Dörpfeld in the 19th century. However, general teaching was only introduced under this name in the 1970s as a reaction to the Sputnik shock , the social democratization movement in the course of strengthening the extra-parliamentary opposition and as an ideological criticism of the old local history. In contrast to the previous local and world studies, the general education should not convey a folk education, but a basic, science- oriented education .

In many countries, this subject is viewed as a precursor to secondary school subjects such as geography , history , biology , social studies , economics , physics , chemistry, and engineering .

The objectives of the subject teaching are comprehensive and demanding. In essence, it is about helping the students to build a worldview , methodically and systematically exploring the world and orienting them in the world. Secondly, it is also a matter of preparing the learners for the further lessons, which will be diversified in later school years. However, this does not mean that the subject instruction already takes place according to subject categories and principles.

General instruction in individual countries

In some countries there is still subject teaching as a single subject addition such as geography or biology for the primary level. Many countries offer an integrative subject:

  • There are various technical terms in Switzerland , such as Natur-Mensch-Mitwelt (Bern), or Mensch und Umwelt (Zurich). In 2014/15 there was a campaign for LP 21. The curriculum 21 is a first for elementary school: For the first time, children in German-speaking Switzerland should have the same learning goals.
  • In Austria it is designed as a comprehensive lesson and offers a preliminary stage to the SI lessons in history and social studies and geography and economics and biology and environmental studies in elementary school . The VS subject teaching is divided into the following areas of experience and learning: community / nature / space / time / economy / technology. In reality, however, this content is only achieved very heterogeneously by the teachers - as many SI teachers of the 5th grade report time and again. Even the primary level teacher training, which has been new for 3 years, has unfortunately only kept very few teaching hours available for these subject areas (in favor of general educational content). In the federal state of Burgenland, there are also textbooks in Burgenland-Croatian for teaching subjects.
  • Lithuania: Perception and Understanding of the World
  • Czech Republic: Basic subject learning
  • Scotland, Hungary and Portugal: environmental studies
  • Slovenia: getting to know the environment
  • Australia: Studies of society and environment , SOSE for short
  • Denmark: Nature / teknik from 1st to 6th school year integrates the subjects biology, geography, physics, chemistry and can contain relevant topics. From 2016 under the new name Natur / teknologi .
  • In Japan, this subject is called Seikatsugaku ("Life Science") for the first and second school year, while it is integrated into project lessons in the third and fourth school years .

Other countries break down the subject teaching according to learning areas:

  • So in England there are science , design and technology , geography and other subjects for the primary level (Key Stage 1 & Key Stage 2) . A curriculum revision is planned with two learning areas, the natural science and the social science.
  • In the Netherlands, the term social world orientation from 1984 shifted to world and environmental studies , but there is a subject Orientation on the self and the world .


Social studies in Germany is the most widely used technical term for the pertinent instruction in primary and special schools . In addition to subject teaching, there are also terms such as Heimat- und Sachunterricht (HUS) (Schleswig-Holstein / Bavaria).

The term “general knowledge” in a narrower sense also describes the forerunner concepts of general science in schools that were developed in the 1960s in the transition from local studies to general science. Colloquially, this technical term is also used for today's teaching in schools. In the narrower sense, however, this term only applies to the era of the transition from local studies to general science in the 1960s. At that time, more objective and subject-specific concepts and practical instructions for teaching that went beyond geography were represented. Walter Jeziorsky , Ilse Lichtenstein-Rother and Rudolf Karnick can be described as representatives of expertise . All of them contributed more or less to overcoming ideological overload in local history and in particular expanded the range of topics. For Jeziorsky the content came in place of the primary geographical orientation of the old History life skills , craft customer , technology , history , cartography , working customer , Uncooked , traffic theory , landscape customer , natural science , meteorology , urban facilities , International and anthropology added. Ilse Lichtenstein-Rother in particular ensured the first use of the term "Sachunterricht" in the Lower Saxony guidelines and individual publications in the 1950s and 1960s, while her concepts for practical teaching are more likely to be assigned to subject knowledge. Ilse Lichtenstein-Rother mainly suggested professional topics such as shoemakers, gardeners, house builders, bakers, and farmers.

Despite all the progress, a new version of the old verbal and memorization school was operated in the implementation of the concepts for expertise. “Customer” is understood as a “teaching of designations” and less as an orientation towards understanding. In Germany, too, the approach of preparing for the subject subjects is currently more strongly represented.

The founder of primary school educational reform debate in Germany and initiator of the Working Group on Primary School , Erwin Schwartz , profiled the debate in support of the Science Education in distinction from the History in many publications, especially in the 1977 published publication Band "From the History of General Studies." From these discourses, an understanding of non-specialized teaching as child-oriented and life-world-oriented teaching gradually developed. However, approaches based on individual subject didactics also remained.

At the orientation level in Lower Saxony at that time , the subject teaching was continued as world and environmental studies (WUK); the WUK lessons presented a synthesis of history and geography lessons, so for historical and geographical topics. Since the abolition of the orientation stage in 2004, the students are teaching history and geography lessons in all those subjects taught, which were previously taught in the subject WUK : these topics range from the North Sea coast, the topography of Europe and the cold zones to the Romans and Teutons and the civilizations of Ancient Egypt.

Concept discussion

General teaching is currently being discussed in Germany in various concept variants. Special prestige enjoy the concepts of experience orientation , Multidimensional learning , discovery learning , action orientation , project orientation , problem orientation , life orientation , child guidance and science orientation . These concepts can be viewed as interrelated, but are implemented with different emphasis in theory and practice. Didactically, the subject teaching is conceptually justified differently. There are approaches with an orientation towards everyday life, towards the perspectives of general science, which are more closely linked to individual subjects, and towards the key problems according to Klafki. In many cases, these approaches are also combined with one another. Recent developments also emphasize philosophical and aesthetic approaches. Overall, the teaching methodology is still very heterogeneous. It ranges from individual subject approaches, the content of which is only reduced to elementary school age, to integrated concepts in which inclusive subject teaching (Seitz) is sought. Conceptually, it is currently under discussion to understand subject teaching as a world exploration or world orientation in order to avoid an overly objectively oriented understanding. The opening up of the subject teaching can, however, also lead to its lack of contour and loss of meaning. However, the development of the subject takes place primarily on the level of method innovation. In particular, station learning as well as free work on topics of your own choice have found a lot in practice. Many schools are starting to set up a learning workshop in order to offer a variety of material for differentiated learning.

Content areas

In Germany, the content of non-technical instruction is defined differently from one federal state to another in the previous guidelines and curricula. In Hessen they are also involved in interdisciplinary fields. In other countries narrower content areas are named. The contents of the subject teaching were more clearly defined by the GDSU's “Perspektivenrahmen Sachunterricht” in 2002. Five specialist perspectives (social and cultural, spatial, historical, scientific and technical content) form the framework for the content of the subject lesson. Interdisciplinary content and non-subject content are no longer automatically part of the subject teaching. Interdisciplinary content is the task of all primary school subjects and cannot replace the specific tasks of subject teaching. Other concepts are based on key problems typical of the epoch, as formulated by Wolfgang Klafki , and place the child's areas of experience and the competencies to be built up as transverse dimensions within this framework of the problems. In 2013, the newly revised perspective framework for subject teaching was published by the GDSU. In its basic structure, it retains the five already known perspectives (social science, natural science, geographical, historical and technical perspective), but supplements these with four perspective-networking topics: mobility, sustainable development, health and health prophylaxis and media. In each perspective, the special contribution to the education of the students and the competencies derived from it are shown.


  • Beate Blaseio: General teaching in the EU countries - an overview. In: Joachim Kahlert, Maria Fölling-Albers, Margarete Götz , Andreas Hartinger, Dietmar von Reeken , Steffen Wittkowske (eds.): Handbuch Didaktik des Sachunterrichts. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2007, pp. 281-291.
  • Beate Blaseio: Development tendencies of the content of the subject teaching . Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2004.
  • Gertrud Beck , Marcus Rauterberg: Sachunterricht - An introduction. Berlin 2005.
  • Franz Deimbacher, Gerhard Lengauer (Ed.): Local knowledge collection (for school lessons). Lessons in concrete terms Vol. 12. Österreichischer Bundesverlag. Vienna 1985. ISBN 3-215-04943-0 .
  • Richard van Dülmen , Sina Rauschenbach : Power of knowledge. The emergence of the modern knowledge society. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2004.
  • GDSU (Hrsg.): Perspektivenrahmen Sachunterricht . Klinkhardt: Bad Heilbrunn 2002.
  • Jörg Haug (Hrsg.): Subject teaching in elementary school - methods and examples. In: Teaching and Learning 3/1977 (special issue).
  • Joachim Kahlert: The subject teaching and its didactics , 2nd edition, Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2005.
  • Astrid Kaiser: New introduction to the didactics of general science. Baltmannsweiler 2016 (6th edition) (introductory book).
  • Astrid Kaiser, Detlef Pech (Hrsg.): Basic knowledge of subject teaching. Volumes 1-6, Baltmannsweiler 2004.
  • Astrid Kaiser / Charlotte Röhner: General instruction. Vol. 2 Competent in primary school teaching. Baltmannsweiler: Schneider Verlag 2009
  • Hartmut Mitzlaff: Heimatkunde and Sachunterricht - historical and systematic studies on the development of general theory - at the same time a critical development history of the homeland ideal in the German-speaking area . 3 vols. Dortmund, 1985.
  • Bad luck Detlef: General instruction - didactics and discipline . Humboldt University 2009
  • Sabine Ragaller: social studies . Donauwörth, Auer Verlag 2001.
  • Marcus Rauterberg: Bibliography Sachunterricht: An annotated selection 1976-2003 . Schneider, Baltmannsweiler 2005, ISBN 978-3-89676-988-6 .
  • Dagmar Richter: Objectives and content. A text and study book on didactics. 2nd edition, Schneider. Baltmannsweiler 2005.
  • Simone Seitz: Time for inclusive material lessons . Baltmannsweiler 2005.
  • Rolf Siller: General instruction in elementary school. Donauwörth 1981.
  • Bernd Thomas: The subject teaching and its concepts. Historical and current developments 3. revised. Edition, Klinkhardt 2009.

Edited volumes:

  • Richard Meier, Henning Unglaube, Gabriele Faust-Siehl (eds.) Subject teaching in elementary school. Contributions to the reform of the primary school, Volume 101. Primary School Working Group - Der Grundschulverband e. V. Frankfurt a. M. 1997.
  • Eva Glasses, Gudrun Schönknecht (Eds.) General teaching in elementary school - develop - design - reflect . Contributions to the reform of primary schools Volume 136. Primary School Working Group - Der Grundschulverband e. V. Frankfurt a. M. 2013.


  • World knowledge science. Westermann-Verlag ( web link ).
  • Elementary school general education. Friedrich-Verlag ( web link ).
  • Elementary school teaching material teaching. Oldenbourg-Verlag ( web link ).
  • conflicted subject teaching. Online magazine ( web link ).

Web links

Wiktionary: General instruction  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

supporting documents

  1. See Mitzlaff 1985, vol. 1 and van Dülmen & Rauschenbach 2004.
  2. LP of the Education Directorate Bern: Nature - People - Mitwelt ( Memento from December 8, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  3. LP of the Education Directorate Zurich
  4. LP-21: Commentary on this in the NZZ
  5. ^ Dossier LP 21 in the Tages-Anzeiger, Zurich
  6. ↑ Elementary school, material teaching curriculum on the website of the Ministry of Education in Vienna, Federal Law Gazette II No. 303/2012 of September 13, 2012
  7. Note: this LP part is from 2010
  8. Ludwig Boyer / Stefan Buzanich / Walter Fischer / Petra Weingärtner / Ortwin Wingert (eds.), Pronajti i učiti. General instruction in Burgenland-Croatian for the 3rd grade elementary school (Verlag E. Weber Eisenstadt and Jugend & Volk Wien, 2000)
  10. Nature / teknologi - Fælles Mål, læseplan og vejledning
  11. Portals are created on the 1st-2nd level. 1st class and forløb to 3rd class
  14. ^ Gesellschaft für Didaktik des Sachunterrichts (Ed.): Perspektivenrahmen Sachunterricht . 2nd completely revised and expanded edition. Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn 2013.