Establishing a Teal School in Germany – Presentation at Integral European Conference 2018

By Katrin Paul for Enlivening Edge Magazine

In just three years the Free Nature School Barnim in Germany has metaphorically completed a “school opening marathon” and inspired and attracted many people. The concept of a culture of trust is well received by educators, parents and other organizations. In the presentation, co-founder and process consultant Katrin Paul will report and show

what makes this school distinct from other free schools: it was established from the outset with the idea of realizing the principles of holistic, self-organized, and purpose-oriented work as described in the book Reinventing Organizations.

The school puts a strong focus on nature-based mentoring in the spirit of Jon Young. This  emerges synergies for the self-organization of students and relationship skills of teachers. For instance, children will be allowed to be indoors or outdoors at any given time and have wilderness-camps once a season.

Working with the four values of Jesper Juul has proven to be a helpful orientation for an atmosphere of vulnerability, trust and responsibility within the school-team as well as with the children and parents. Any behaviour should as much as possible reflect the values of being upright, personally responsible, authentic and equal.

A big success factor is in the opinion of Katrin Paul the maxim “relationship before content”, which was consistently lived in the founding and early stages of the school. It remains a challenge to promote this attitude in everyday school life—as well as that everyone takes good care of their limits and does not get overburdened because of the immense pressure of the tasks ahead.

The presentation will also look at how adult leadership and children’s self-determination can go together.

Children are not allowed to decide everything themselves and yet are free in their learning pathways. Instead of rules and consequences, teachers work with respectful leadership and the ability to engage in dialogue—competencies that necessarily require training in relationship skills.

Currently, 15 students attend the Free Nature School Barnim; in the next few years the school will grow to about 100 students in grades 1 to 10 and, we hope, offer a free high school diploma. The concept grows and matures every day due to the incredible dedication of the hired teachers as well as the parents who are involved in building up the premises, the grounds, and in public relations.

Be invited to leave comments here, and contact me, especially for sharing experiences at my IEC Presentation at Thursday, 24th May, 11.30 a.m.


Katrin Paul runs her own workshop centre in the countryside north of Berlin, Germany. She offers coaching on relationship skills (embodied authentic communication),  and works as a family counselor and supervisor for kindergartens and schools. She co-founded the Free Nature School Barnim in 2014.