Christoph was just 20 years old when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis –a terrible shock. Like many people faced with a similar fate, he began to live with it, but a fulfilling and worthwhile career seemed impossible. Having had a temporary job in a school, however –and remembering the powerful sense of purpose this gave him –he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to teaching.
While training to become a Montessori teacher, Christoph had a very good relationship with students, parents and colleagues. Although his MS symptoms were largely invisible, his legs sometimes shook and his walking became more difficult. This led to another lesson. Teachers with physical disabilities can be incredibly important role models for children, and Christoph used his circumstances to help them see that life really is what you make of it. It was important to him to act as a counterpoint to a world in which perfection is the thing usually celebrated. If the classroom leader now had to sit in a wheelchair and could not stand upright, this sent an important message:even if you cannot change your circumstances, you can change yourself, rebuild your identity and accept often brutal realities.
In his academic teaching, Christoph works alongside the children instead of in front of them. In an international Montessori school, social and cultural awareness are key principles, and the aim is to trigger curiosity, initiative, persistence and adaptability. “Guided failure” is an instrument he uses to teach children to master disruptive situations and see them from a different perspective. Christoph strongly believes that if you can help a child to fail at the right moment, the outcome can be hugely positive.
He also pursues his mission outside the classroom through the children’s bookshop he owns, where children can discover new worlds, stories and facts, feeding their curiosity and fueling their imagination. At the bookshop, Christoph created a free-of-charge book club where children can come and readoutside school. He also shares his experiences through a widely read blog.On his 10-year anniversary as a teacher, Christoph received a wonderful prize from the management of the international Montessori school, recognising the creativity that he displays in his teaching and the zest for learning that children draw from him.
If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Christoph would create a project with educational material that will help children to learn to read and write and focus on schools that do not have not enough funds to afford school supplies. He would also like to create a website and a network that allows schools, educators and teachers all over the world to apply and register for free educational material and to share their experience in order to create a wide community.