Seit 1992 ist die Landauer Zooschule ein erlebnisreicher Lern- und Lehrort, an dem sich sowohl Studierende als auch Schuklassen weiterbilden können. Fotos: Zooschule Landau

Zooschule Landau: Strengthen your personality as a teacher

Since 1992, the Landau School of Zoology has been a busy place of learning and teaching, where students and school classes can further their education. Photo: Landau Zoo School

and Landau School of Zoology celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2022. It was founded in 1992 as a cooperation project of the University of Koblenz-Landau and the Zoological Garden of the City of Landau. The innovative concept is intended to offer teaching students the opportunity to gain practical teaching experience right from the start of their studies.

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Even today, the director of the zoo, Dr. Jens-Ove Heckel, the concept of the Landau Zoo School is unique in Germany: After training and an introductory phase, students get the opportunity to work as zookeepers. This benefits not only the participating educational groups, but also future teachers: the zoo offers students hands-on experience in an out-of-school setting. They can develop their work, personal and social skills. School classes can deepen their knowledge of biology and related fields in an extraordinary environment. The idea and concept of the zoological school works Dr Gudrun Holstein return. She is a research assistant at Institute for Education of Children and Youth he works on the Landau campus and has led the educational, scientific and managerial aspects of the institution since its inception.

Gudrun Hollstein with one of the zoo's residents, a bearded dragon.

Gudrun Hollstein with one of the zoo’s residents, a bearded dragon.

Hollstein emphasizes that students as zookeepers are carefully trained for their teaching work, but they can also act very independently. Cooperation has a high priority at the zoo. Lessons are usually planned in teams. Study groups are divided so that students can work intensively with small groups. It is also possible for them to try out methods, media and differentiation strategies. Gradually, students become familiar with teaching in the zoo area. The topics discussed in class are diverse. How can we protect tropical rainforests and their biodiversity? What can we do to reduce plastic waste entering our oceans and seas? How can we be careful with our limited resources and raw materials? These are just some of the many questions that both young and old can actively and researchfully deal with here. The Zoological School uses the special environment of the Landau Zoo with its impressive variety of exotic animals as a place of experience and learning. Over the years it has evolved into an institution for education for sustainable development. Emphasis is placed on biodiversity education. Threats and protection of biodiversity are at the center of attention in many teaching units.

Environmental issues are clearly presented to children in the classroom

Environmental issues are clearly presented to children in the classroom. They will learn, for example, what effects plastic waste can have in the oceans.

Students of all subjects can join the zoo from the first semester. The offer is not only used within the teaching of study fields, students of environmental sciences, pedagogy or psychology are also interested. Hollstein explains why it makes sense to work at a zoology school early in their studies: “At the beginning of their studies, students are usually a bit more flexible in terms of their studies and are often better able to integrate regular deployments into everyday life. to study life.” She says continued involvement in the zoo school has already helped many student teachers choose their major.

The potential for this lies mainly in another peculiarity of the zoology school: the learning groups are characterized by a high degree of dispersion. The offer is used by day care centers, groups of students of all age categories with a wide range of educational requirements and special needs, adults with and without handicaps, as well as seniors. These diverse learning groups allow students to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.

Not all animals can be observed up close.  Then the binoculars that the zoological school makes available to study groups can help.

Not all animals can be observed up close. Then the binoculars that the zoological school makes available to study groups can help.

For students, the zoo is a good opportunity for personal and professional development. While the demand for their off-campus offerings is growing, Hollstein still sees a downward trend in the number of students wanting to take advantage of this training option. He sees the cause in the “retraining” of fields since the transition to bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Thus, students can no longer freely choose a field and are also more limited in time, which makes it impossible for them to spend their free time at the zoo. “Especially during the training and familiarization phase of zoo school, students who are interested should be a little more flexible in terms of time,” explains Hollstein. Students who take advantage of the offer must attend an accompanying seminar held each week of the semester and take courses at the zoo. But even for students who cannot afford the necessary time flexibility, there are options for further education within the zoo. For example, bachelor’s or diploma theses can be written in your immediate surroundings.

Students can not only work permanently, i.e. for many semesters, as teachers in a zoo. There is also the possibility of completing temporary teaching practices. The range is variable. These offers are also intended to help students further develop their professional skills and recognize the pedagogical potential of the zoo as a place of learning.

Anyone who studies at the Koblenz campus and wants to reflect his own teaching personality in the extraordinary teaching and learning environment in which others spend their free time can contact Dr. Gudrun Hollstein ( let me know.

Ida Boomová

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