In a nutshell...
- The Winter Course “Moving Times” is a project for 18 to 25 year-olds and is a kind of ‘personal winter semester’.
- It takes place yearly from November to March.
- Its participants are 20 very different young adults.
- During the duration of the course, they live and learn together on the premises of Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hermannsburg.
- The all-day program is strongly influenced by the participants themselves: the course is their project.
- The thematic focus is put on job and application, politics and social affairs, psychology and communication, meaningful living and spirituality as well as culture and adventure.
“Moving Times” is an extraordinary multifaceted educational project inspired by Christianity and with Scandinavian roots. The basic idea is: Take a semester off for yourself, live together with people of your age and make a point of sharpening your profile so that you can confidently go your own way. Give your life direction. Make some extraordinary experiences.
Whereas the teenagers and young adults of today are put under enormous pressure to finish school, apprenticeship and university as fast as possible and without detours, here we put a deliberate emphasis on the opposite: the course offers a creative time off. A valuable in itself phase of life that is not affected by external specifications. Some time ‘just for me’.
Three big headings mark this educational project:
1 – Goals
Clarify what is essential for your own life: What do I stand for? Where do my potentials lie? What would I like to devote myself to? What are my job-related goals? Which role does faith play in my life?
2 – Experience
Make intense experiences with yourself and with others: sample companionship in a group, find new friends, design exciting study projects, challenge yourself.
3 – Competence
Deepen such important for studies and in job abilities as: skillful communication, team development process, conflict resolution, tackling personal decisions. Furthermore: think outside the box – widen your general knowledge of politics.
Diversity is a key component of the course – this is also true for the participants themselves: Sometimes you hear a Bavarian, sometimes a Saxon, North German or Ruhr area slang. Some participants come from other countries, e.g. Russia and South Africa. Kind of graduation, religious background, musical preferences, and political views – all this is by far not consistent. This diversity offers an immeasurable chance to learn from each other.
The motives to participate at the course are multidimensional, too: Some deliberately choose to take a creative time-out in order to stop struggling through precast cycles like a hamster on a wheel. Many would like to clarify their own life goals and job wishes or simply spend a very intense, emotional, unforgettable time with peers. Others take these nearly six months to orientate themselves after some particular biographic experience. For those whose application for a university, apprenticeship or job has been rejected, this Winter Course offers a brilliant chance to fill the gap. Some participants have only finished school, others just completed an apprenticeship and many have already studied for several semesters.
Live and learn
The Winter Course is an exciting joint experiment. Participation means living together in a diverse group of around 20 young adults for five months, sharing activities and every day life as well as happiness and frustration. This ‘living and learning together under one roof’ is a central objective of the concept of the course. Anyone living ‘door to door’ with others for 18 weeks gets to know each other rather well and often has to deal not only with own problems but also gets involved into those of the others. One learns a lot about the strengths and quirks of their housemates – and one learns a lot about oneself, too. Throughout all these confrontations trust is growing and with the time deep friendships develop. For the most of those who already took part, the ‘living and learning under one roof’ was probably the most forming experience of the whole course.
With the Danish “Folkehøjskole” the prototype of our Winter Course was already developed in the 19th century. From then on, the Folkehøjskole-movement left its imprint in culture and society of the whole Scandinavia – until today. The crucial impulses for this development came from the Danish theologian and pedagogue Grundtvig (1783-1872). He had a very critical view of the educational system at that time. He accused the academic education of being dry, bloodless, and remote from everyday life. He called it a ‘school until death’ and demanded a ’school for life’. This should be, as he said at that time, a school of the ‘living word’, not aforementioned school only about books and rote learning. Life in its variety, the whole experiences of life should come up, be reflected, inspire learning, and enable people to live together. (Source: Ev. Folk High Schools, ed. Workgroup Ev. Folk High Schools, Association of Rural Folk High Schools in Germany, 1987)
With the establishment of a number of Folk High Schools (Heimvolkshochschulen) after the First World War, this educational approach spilled over to Germany as well. But in comparison to Scandinavia it didn’t take hold nearly as strongly.
The first Winter Course in Hermannsburg started over 90 years ago on the 2nd of November 1919. Georg Haccius, founder of today’s Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hermannsburg, phrased the goal at that time as following:
„We want to encourage young people to dare to have confidence and take responsibility for themselves and for others.“
Many generations of employees have since renewed the course again and again and many generations of young adults have taken part. A lot of these people feel connected to the establishment until today. Noteworthy is, that a great many of the former pupils are engaged either in their main occupation or on a voluntary basis in social, church-related, ecological and political fields.
The aim of the Winter Course is to encourage this development in the future as well. And for this common welfare orientated approach “Moving Times” was honoured with a nationwide recognized award in 2008. The initiative “Germany – the Country of Ideas” (with the Federal President as patron) awarded us the title “Chosen Place 2008 in the Country of Ideas”. The emphasis was put on the ‘future-oriented, original, committed to the common good’ character of this project.
The Winter Course is an all day course with a healthy mix of mandatory program and time for personal needs. The team of Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hermannsburg dictates certain topics that seem important to them. In addition external experts are consulted and invited to visit the course. The group decides about further topics together. This makes the program of the course very multifaceted. It varies from course to course depending on where the interests of the group lie and how strongly they introduce their ideas.
Characteristic are the methods of experiential education: a lot of practical experience, training, learning projects, scenic play, exercises, experiments, and excursions.
The general concept of the course invites the participants to actively contribute to the course with their skills and abilities. An example: with “Peer-Teaching” the participants can offer voluntary working groups, which they also lead – a guitar course, Spanish for beginners, creative writing, or whatever they can provide. The responsibility for the diversity and the success of the course lies with all the participants.
Conflicts that may arise while living together will not be bracketed out but will be seen as chances to learn.
In a one-on-one interview you will have the chance to agree upon individual goals and activities and discuss personal topics.
The following topics and activities are normally scheduled:
Job and application
- qualified vocational aptitude test (Geva Institute) and career guidance
- coaching for apprenticeship and job search
- excursion to the Leuphana University of Lüneburg
- possibility of trial days in companies and universities
- application training including assessment centre simulation
- acquiring of knowledge about occupational fields
- job-related legal topics
- information about different possibilities of staying abroad
Politics and social affairs
- current affairs
- political, social and economical background themes
- social project
- conversations with committed people
- intensive schooling in conflict mediation and conflict management
- de-escalation and self-defence training
- rhetoric exercises
Psychology and communication
- psychological topics
- biography and relationships
- team training
- communication and conversational skills
Meaningful living and spirituality
- current topics from a christian standpoint
- personal faith
- devotions and special worship services
- other religions
- days in a monastery
Culture and adventure
- realisation of your own theatre play
- sport in a gym, swimming
- outdoor activities (e.g.: high and low rope courses, maybe trekking)
- artistic practice
- singing and rhythm, music, dance
- „English conversation“ – working group
- depending on the current situation: visiting an art exhibition, a concert, a performance etc.
- as a project: jointly organised study trip
Program in personal responsibility of the group
- course plenum
- „My World“ lectures about a personally important topic of individual choice
- „Peer-Teaching“, meaning participants educate each other in working groups, e.g. learning guitar, creative writing, languages etc.
Contrary to the school, the Winter Course has no 45 minute intervals and no school bell. Many activities take place over a full forenoon or afternoon, so that it is possible to delve into a subject.
Through fixed mealtimes the daily routine in the Bildungszentrum gains a clear structure. The weekly plan, on the other hand, is very variable and different nearly every week, because some activities are full-time or stretch out over several days in blocks.
There is a pause of about two weeks over Christmas and New Year.
„Moving Times“ is only offered in the winter season. The course starts in the beginning of November and ends in March. For all those interested in participating, there are information days in July, September, and October.
„Moving Times” costs, including full board, lodging and program, 2.950, – EUR. That is about 170, – EUR per course week. For some this is a lot of money. But in comparison to what is offered, the equity ratio is low. The course can only reach this favourable price-performance-ratio, because it is financed through public funds, donations, and endowments as well.
To this, individual expenses have to be added, e.g. for work materials (normally not more than 50, – EUR), calls, washing etc. A possible study trip will be accounted for separately. The amount of pocket money needed beyond that is very individual and differs from person to person.
Fundamentally finances should not hinder participation. Relevant discounts are possible in justified cases. Please get into contact with us about this in due time. The course fee should be paid in two rates if possible: the first rate at the beginning of the course, the second one at the beginning of the new year. The details about the terms of payment are regulated in the participation contract that is signed by both parts at the registration.
The Winter Course is open to all 18 to 25 year-olds. Prerequisite for the participation are high motivation as well as health and personal suitability. The course language is German.
A small application process makes sure that the course program and the participants fit together:
The first step is a written application (in German). It is composed of
- a short cover letter,
- a curriculum vitae in tabular form sheet with your picture and all contact details (phone, mobile number, E-Mail),
- a 1-2 pages long presentation about your own motivation to participate (in German).
- Please send all of this to Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hermannsburg. As soon as the application has arrived, a place for the course is reserved – unless another short-term message follows.
In a second step a get-to-know visit in Hermannsburg is planned. Especially suited for this are the information days, where you get a certain impression how living in a “Moving Times” group feels like. It is also possible to arrange an individual date. If you have a long journey, you are welcome to take meals here or even stay over the night. Some arrive with a parent or a friend, who are welcome as well. Every applicant will have a counselling interview in confidence. Here is important (which is maybe different to other counselling interviews when applying for an apprenticeship): be open and honest, so we can clarify, if our Winter Course is the right option in your current situation.
When both sides have decided that they suit each other (by the way, most of the time we agree with the participant), the third step is the signing of the participation contract, in which every legal detail is regulated. With this, the application is set.
There is no official application deadline. The 20 places for the Winter Course are simply given out in order of the applications. In the past, there were still places available in September/October – but it could be different this year. It is therefore better to register in time! Also: the earlier the application arrives, the better personal wishes can be taken into account.
Everybody who wants to know more can write, mail, call or visit us personally to get an own impression.
The people to contact for every question about “moving times” are:
(Project leader “Moving Times”, teacher, de-escalation trainer, EOL-trainer)
Our address is:
Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hermannsburg – Heimvolkshochschule
Lutterweg 16, 29320 Hermannsburg
Telephone: +49 (0)5052–9899-0
Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hermannsburg is an institution for adult education recognized by the State of Lower Saxony.
Hermannsburg is situated around 30 kilometers north of Celle in the southern Lueneburg Heath.