1.3 Our Approach: The change starts from me!

In the last years, Starkmacher has sustained more then 50 schools. Our approach has been focusing on the quality of the schools, in terms of climate, positivity , talent-oriented pedagogy and joyfulness. Unfortunately, most of the times we met a deficit-oriented approach, missing so the chances to empower the students, discover and appreciate their talents and positively make them active actors of the schools. Children from all around the world need to be sustained and guided with the hand in order to promote their holistic growth. They need to be treated first of all as human beings, not as a target group. This is the reason why, with some colleagues, we developed a pedagogy that gives more space and chances to discover the beautiful gifts children and students are born with, unfolding and promoting their talents, first of all at school. In the era of “patchwork-families” this accompaniment is not guaranteed and sometimes not available at all. Oftentimes parents are, or pretend to be, overwhelmed and too busy. However, teachers cannot absorb at school the lack of solid life-structures, the feeling of reliability and trust children should get from their families.

This thought is not new. Particularly in private schools or high schools there is a wide range of additional services and programs designed to promote students’ individual talents and abilities. However, disadvantaged students are often dropped by the wayside. At the same time, teachers are under enormous pressure to meet the demands of parents, Ministry and the public opinion.

Starkmacher projects perfectly match these challenges, targeting accurately teachers, pupils and families. The starting point of Starkmacher principle is: “The change starts from me: only when I, myself am strong, I can make others stronger”. Starkmachers’ projects create spaces of experience, in which individuals are strengthened and can experience being part of a community and the extreme importance of this latter.

Our approach has been developed establishing trustful relationships with teachers and, generally speaking, the administrative body. We bring everybody into the boat, to navigate the challenges and chances all together. This is an empowering exercise a “Starkmacher” exercise, in which everybody, teachers and pupils, those pretty much involved and those left out, feel being part of a unique and strong body. Fabio, a young guy involved in a “musical Project”, said: “I have learnt that, what matters is being on the stage with the heart, as one body with the others. It is not a competition and, if you do something wrong you just keep going, with the help and support of the others”.