The environment: another classroom



From Kindergarten to Oberstufe, students at Deutsche Schule Medellín, learn from experience. This is a journey through those programs that educate taking the environment into account. 


Learning is significant when it is incorporated into the students’ learning structures; when that new knowledge acquires a new meaning from their previous experiences. We learn for life and not for a moment. We learn when we have meaningful experiences; when we can watch and touch. “I learn better when I’m actively doing something” Óscar Ceballos, Mittelstufe Director, explains. Besides, “When you learn from experience, learning is significant; it lasts” Paula Álvarez, Grundschule Director, adds. 

Nowadays, students learn from their previous experiences; from doing and reflecting; from making mistakes; and from being a part of different projects. In that sense, each one of the four stages at DSM - Deutsche Schule Medellín, carries out different projects that use the environment as a classroom. 



During this stage, we want children to learn while they’re playing, while they’re having fun. Apart from the Tandem Model, in which every classroom has a teacher who speaks German and another one who speaks Spanish, we incentivize activities through different games. 

• Learning with projects: boys and girls propose interesting topics or issues to tackle throughout the school year. From then, they start learning about autonomy and participation because they are the ones who propose the topics. Additionally, at some points, and depending on what they’re working on, we schedule educational trips to learn in context. Thus, we visit Parque Explora, museums, and we even receive visits from entities such as the Ministry of Transportation. 

• Special celebrations: we carry out special activities at some points of each year, such as Easter or St. Martin’s Day. These moments are used to reinforce German culture. We also conduct other celebrations like Grandparents’ Day. 

• Garden: with the help of the school’s gardeners, kids learn about cultivation and healthy eating because they harvest their own food. 



As they grow, teaching becomes more formal. However, we still learn from the environment. 

• Little scientists: students get an initial approach to science through this program. This methodology has also been used to teach other subjects such as Spanish or mathematics. Our DSM Campus is an ideal place for observation and experimentation because it also has a laboratory. 

• Getting to know the city: a tour on the Turibus shows students different places in Medellín. It helps them understand that they live in a city with contexts that are very different from theirs. They experience this educational trip in Spanish first, and then in German. That way, they improve both languages. 

• Educational trips: in order to get to know Colombian and German cultures a little bit better, we schedule different educational trips throughout the year. In 2022, the trip to the manufacturing facility of the ‘Susi’ Bakery was one of the most impactful trips. Students were able to learn more about bread culture in Germany. 



During preadolescence, the relationship with the outside world becomes more important. Recognizing other people becomes a priority. 

• Trip to Germany: in Klasse 7, students have the possibility to live a cultural immersion in a German institute. Apart from practicing and perfecting the language, they share experiences with other young students from around the world; and they get to live like young natives do. Besides, they visit different cities and towns. 

• Trip to Isla Fuerte: this experience takes place in Klasse 8. It has an environmental and a social purpose. With this activity, students get to know other realities in our country which are usually foreign to them. Additionally, they understand a lot more about the coastal ecosystem of an island. 

• Educational trips: these activities are still being carried out during this stage. The trip to San Pedro Cemetery Museum allows them to explore topics such as art, architecture, history, and politics. 



Recognizing the local, national and global context becomes essential during the last few years at School. This is a crucial moment because students start defining their vocational choices. 

• Extended essay: each student must research an area of knowledge. This is a requirement to obtain their International Baccalaureate diploma. This involves researching not only at School or on the internet, but also in different places of the city such as information centers or libraries. 

• Klasse 10 trip: students have the opportunity to live as a native German student for six months. This is cultural immersion, and they learn to be much more autonomous and independent. 

• CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service): this cornerstone of the International Baccalaureate helps us get closer to different realities. 


Institutional thinking

“We create significant moments. We want our students to learn by doing and experimenting. Games foster socialization and experiences. And we always have the consistent idea of educating citizens of the world”. Julius Sturm, Kindergarten Director. 

“We have a tremendous advantage: we follow a curriculum, but it is very flexible. We are not encased in one single methodology, and our classes can be planned more freely. We always want our teachers and our students to propose”. Paula Álvarez, Grundschule Director. 

“The environment is an important element when it comes to focusing learning from environmental, scientific and social perspectives. It is also necessary for the subjects we teach at School to talk about the world we live in, and to use experiences as a way of learning”. Óscar Ceballos, Mitelstufe Director. 

“It is important to understand the reality of the world around us. We are interested in promoting spaces for the students to get to know the city, Germany, and the world; and to get closer to Colombian society”. Mitja Lüderwaldt, GIB-Oberstufe Director.