Education – Who Needs a School Building? – District of Munich

The technical college may soon be the largest school in hair. And yet you have to look for it, even if you are standing directly in front of it. Is it entrance 9a or entrance 10a? A look at the doorbell will help. In addition to the company name, there is “FOS Haar” on two bell buttons. So this has to be the main entrance. And once you’re inside, on the second floor of the gray commercial building on Hans-Brush-Strasse, your eyes open. Students meet you in the corridors, here the door of a classroom is half open. There is a real secretariat – and a beaming headmistress sits in her spacious office.

The Fachoberschule Haar is unique. This secondary school has existed right on the city limits of Munich-Trudering for almost three years. And although this school does not have a school building to this day, it is a success story. In a short time, a few conversions were carried out in an office building in order to be able to open the school approved by the Ministry of Culture at all. For a while, teaching should take place there until a great new building at the Gronsdorf train station, built according to all the rules of school architecture, is ready. But that is not in sight. Instead, school life is flourishing in a makeshift setting.

The 200 students turned into 400, then 600. There are just 628 students exactly. It will be 1022 when what is reflected in the registration numbers becomes reality. Headmistress Nicola Tauscher-Meriç can hardly believe what is happening to her. “I didn’t expect us to grow so quickly either,” she says. You can almost get to the Ernst-Mach-Gymnasium in Haar. “Many were not so aware that the demand in the east of Munich is so great,” says the 49-year-old teacher who worked for many years at the Therese von Bayern School on Lindwurmstrasse in the center of Munich. There, too, she experienced a technical college under construction. But this time everything goes at turbo speed. For a long time, technical colleges received little attention. Now they are in demand. It was not until 2013 that the first FOS was created in the Munich district in Unterschleißheim. The next one will soon be built at Deisenhofen station in Oberhaching. And there teachers and students will probably have their own school house in front of the school in Haar.

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The FOS in Haar has been in discussion for a long time. The former mayor Helmut Dworzak (SPD) campaigned for a FOS in Haar 15 years ago, which should have been built on the site of today’s Art Nouveau park. But it was said that there weren’t enough students. Now Tauscher-Meriç is experiencing how the students come from large parts of Munich and the district. Four subjects are offered with health, social affairs, economics and administration as well as technology, almost the full program. According to the current status, the number of new students is particularly high this year, says the headmistress, because many of them may have reached the necessary average of 3.5 by the half-year due to corona. We will see how many will actually come next school year in the end.

On the ground floor in wing 9a, craftsmen are currently in the process of creating new classrooms. The school is a building site. Just as it was always a construction site. Sometimes an electrical workshop was retrofitted. Now is expanding. And because a second workshop is being built at the other end of the building, the first will also be relocated there. “It will never really be a school building,” says Tauscher-Meriç when walking through the house, “it’s an office building.” In fact, there are still companies at home wall to wall with the school, which leads to some conflicts. But it is also a very lively school. As soon as you have entered the building, there is a reference to “Anne Frank Day”. “We are showing the flag for openness, tolerance and equality,” says a poster next to it. Initially, the school was located on the second and third floors. Teaching has long been taking place on the ground floor of building part 10a and soon also in building part 9a. The former offices are bright and spacious. In a classroom, the students sit at their places and make snacks. On the third floor, several students stand together in a larger common room, which is close to an auditorium.

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An Anne Frank exhibition is hung on partitions. The corridors are decorated with works from art class. There is a room for meetings, an office for school social work, a library and a cafeteria which, due to the pandemic, are missing tables so that nobody can sit down. The students manage the common room. “Personal responsibility is important to us,” says the headmistress.

The community, of course, suffered in distance learning. The FOS in Haar was able to show its strengths at this time when school buildings were less important. There are screens on many of the tables in the school. The FOS has been equipped with high-quality IT from the start. The teachers were immediately given duty tablets. There were teams meetings early. “When the lockdown was imposed on Friday, we taught according to the curriculum on Monday,” says Tauscher-Meriç. Again and again she praises the “material expense manager”, i.e. the district administration, who has saved on nothing. And the school implemented the IT agenda directly. We kept asking what could be improved. Teachers gave special introductions to the use of Microsoft programs. Now they also want to acquire SAP programs.

The FOS in no way looks like a school of technology nerds. The director’s spacious office is lovingly furnished. There are many flowers, the view of the green inner courtyard through the open window, the chirping of birds can be heard. Across from Tauscher-Meriç’s desk hangs a pin board – very old school – on which the teaching staff has noted what they expect from the school management. “Fairness” of course and “good mood”. On a pin board in the corridor, the students describe their dream school, where they wish for “respect”, “solidarity” and “spontaneity”.

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Of course that’s a lot of theory. The headmistress has seen how noble desires crumble into reality in distance lessons. Some pupils also misunderstand a technical college as an opportunity to gain two more years and postpone the career decision after finishing secondary school. But Tauscher-Meriç also experiences great motivation and the will to achieve something. The pandemic has made education an issue again, she says. For them, technology is not an end in itself, but neither should it be demonized. Schools have long lagged behind developments in the world of work. “We at school should actually be pioneers,” says the headmistress, so that in the end the students are ready for their studies and for their professional lives.

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