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Teaching and transfer of knowledge

Lighting a fire in others – according to Herclitus, this should be a teacher’s foundational motivation. This simple thought reveals that sharing passion for one’s own area of expertise is not limited to the schoolroom. Especially in a knowledge-based society like ours, the transfer of knowledge is part of almost all areas of public life, meaning that there are numerous possibilities of finding employment in this respect.

As an online-tutor, education manager at a political organization, trainer at a company or in formal or informal learning environments, the shapes, forms and places for transferring knowledge are diverse.

Teachers‘ of all kinds must plan classes or educational events, develop teaching concepts and then execute them with their students. This can take place in-person, digitally or in blended learning formats. Naturally, the content and concepts vary depending on teaching context and target group. Teachers take on additional tasks, too, including having parent-teacher-conversations or organizing extracurricular activities. Not only schools, but also other teaching contexts involve additional tasks regarding administration and organization, such as student acquisition, participant administration, room planning, etc.

In order to make your start as a teacher, a completed degree in educational science is necessary, followed by teacher training at an actual school. For an occupation at schools with a specific pedagogical concept, such as Waldorf or Montessori pedagogy, organizations usually require the specific additional training. Open positions for (beginning) teachers with completed training can be found on the sites of the ministries of education, city or senate administrations (in Berlin, for example) or directly on the schools’ homepages.

Lateral entry possible for subjects in which teachers are in high-demand

The ministries of education and culture also offer relevant information for anyone looking to become a schoolteacher without typical teacher training. This is primarily possible in subjects that few teachers are currently available for. It is important to note that lateral entry without additional training means not receiving equal pay as other fully-trained teachers and prohibits one from becoming a civil servant.

Beyond classical teaching in schools, there are countless different private and public educational institutions looking for teachers in all types of areas (from community colleges to music or art schools or youth and adult learning centers). Also, teaching is possible in the training of specialized workers: Musicians can teach others how to play their instrument privately or at a music school, chemists can train laboratory workers or psychologists can share their knowledge with trainees in health care. There are computer, art, language, sport or other classes, signifying that, basically, every person can share their knowledge and capabilities with others as a private tutor or at an educational institution.

If the educational activity is aimed at adults, then the term used is adult education. The market for these types of teaching positions is huge. However, it must be brought to attention that these are usually on a honorarium basis and paid only by hours spent actively teaching, and that one must be self-insured.

Keep own insurance and formal certifications in mind for honorarium-based positions

Therefore, anyone interested in honorarium positions should carefully check their basic financial demands (and realistically assess the amount of (frequently unpaid) time necessary for preparing and evaluating a class). Beyond that, it can be useful to establish a second financial source of income that can be combined with the teaching position. Permanent employment is also possible in educational and vocational institutions, however, only with the necessary relevant qualifications. The required formal certificates and confirmations of expertise that prove one’s professionality and ability to transfer knowledge within that field must be considered. For example, for positions as a German teacher for non-native speakers, further training and/or certification as a German language teacher or in German as a second language (German: Deutsch als Fremdsprache (DaF) and Deutsch als Zweitpsrache (DaZ)) is usually a prerequisite. The same applies to working as a sports and fitness coach, which requires a trainer’s license.

Anyone looking to work in political, social or ecological education should get informed about an occupation as an education manager. This also requires the development of teaching and class concepts and the execution of educational offers that tend to involve simulations, tours, excursions, field trips, etc., more so than other learning contexts.

An academic career at a university or research institution usually also involves tasks related to the transfer of knowledge. More and more frequently, German universities offer positions that involve teaching exclusively (meaning 100% teaching and no individual research), as a “senior lecturer” for example. At universities in other countries with an historically less strict division between research and teaching these types of positions are more common anyway.

In conclusion, it can be said that teaching beyond the typical school context requires taking a good look at what target groups one wants to teach, in what context one’s own expertise can be applied and if specific part-time further training is useful. For purely private tutoring or honorarium positions one should check the conditions for self-employment (see also: the University of Potsdam's Start-Up Service) beforehand.