Getting to know NECE practices – dialogue facilitators Katharina Müller & Siamak Ahmadi

Katharina Müller, Siamak Ahmadi with Christoph Müller-Hofstede (1st on the left)

‘We try to be flexible like jelly not like water,’ says Siamak Ahmadi. Together with Katharina Müller he works as a dialogue facilitator for ‘Youth Religion Democracy – Citizenship Education for young people in a migration society’, a pilot project by the German Federal Agency for Civic Eduaction and the Robert Bosch Foundation. In this project a group of 18 dialogue facilitators in Stuttgart and Berlin visits schools once a week for a session of 90 minutes – and right in the beginning of each session it’s the students who are asked to chose the topic of discussion. The facilitators try to adapt to the students’ wishes but at the same time stick to their serious interest - in them and the articulation of their needs and problems. The project started in 2009, a new cycle has just started this October. 

‘We try to build trust and work in a different way than teachers do,’ says Ahmadi. Many pupils feel treated unfairly, he explains, but have problems articulating within the school system’s language. The facilitators try to initiative a process of understanding the students’ daily problems from a different perspective, to ‘zoom out’ and find alternative options to take action. In Berlin ‘Youth Religion Democracy’ is working at two schools in the district Neukölln. ‘We are working with students of a low social and economic background who happen to be migrants,’ Mr. Ahmadi says.

At the NECE conference Ms. Müller and Mr. Ahmadi were looking for feedback to their project. The big questions raised by Benjamin Barber concerning Citizenship Education’s role in a collapsing system reassured them of their approach. 'What I like about our project,' Ms. Müller says, 'is that we are honest with our uncertainty. We don’t come with readymade answers. We are not saying that ‘this is the way to work with children!’. Our experience is that all the facilitators’ groups are very different from one another. Every school, every class assembles different personal needs – and if we split the class in two groups, they are different from each other once again.'

Conference Day: 


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Christoph Müller-Hofstede