Prof. Maurer is quite right to highlight the issue of how more recent knowledge from empirical educational research, medicine, and psychology is incorporated into teacher training. In the first place, the universities responsible for training teachers for the various types of schools must play a role in this. The requirement that new knowledge must be integrated into teacher training can be unreservedly supported (1). Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research has recently started promoting a pilot scheme to improve teacher training, as part of a “Teacher Training Quality Offensive,” identifying psychological stresses and possibilities for support and intervention in schools (2) (www.uni-muenchen.de/aktuelles/news/2015/lehrerausbildung.html). This training meets the requirement of being highly accessible and widely disseminated, as it is modular and available online.
Because the effects of changes to teacher training are not felt by students until many years later, Prof. Maurer’s second requirement—improving teachers’ continuing professional development—is vital. The cooperation project mentioned for professional development of learning support teachers is very welcome. There are also other examples, such as the cooperation between the Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs and pediatric and adolescent psychiatrists in Landshut, Regensburg, Würzburg, and Munich for the continuing professional development of teachers in special schools on dealing with children and adolescents experiencing psychological stress (http://www.kjp.med.uni-muenchen.de/lehre/weiterb_
lehrer.php; NB: This continuing professional development opportunity is currently no longer on offer due to a lack of funds). The problem with pilot schemes is rolling them out into new areas and making them permanent.
Both Prof. Maurer and Dr. Gorzny indicate the importance of medical knowledge for schools. Even where there is a correlation between what is known as the chronotype and psychological state, or between chronotype and individual learning capacity (3), this knowledge is often not applied when structuring the school day. Exceptions to this include the Jack Steinberger School in Bad Kissingen, in which great importance is attached to exposure to daylight and classwork is written only from the third period onwards. This is intended to allow later chronotypes to work in conditions which are better suited to them. In Alsfeld, near Aachen, there is even a pilot scheme allowing students to arrive at school later, so that they can be taught according to their own chronotypes.
Close observation of school students when reading is very important, as is establishing when reading problems are caused by eyesight problems, as stated in the recently published S3 Guideline on Diagnosing and Treating Reading and/or Writing Disorders (4). All students with reading problems should therefore undergo ophthalmological examination if they report relevant symptoms, as the guideline recommends.
Prof. Dr. med. Gerd Schulte-Körne
Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie
Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie
Conflict of interest statement
The author declares that no conflict of interest exists.