Why we love Children’s Universities…

“What makes primary school children attend a series of lectures at the university on an afternoon off from school and accept a journey of up to thirty kilometres or more? The reported results give a clear answer to this question: interest and the desire to learn something new. From the children’s point of view, it is not the parents who are behind the visit to the children’s university, but their own thirst for knowledge.”
(Georg Stöckli, Kinder im Hörsaal, 2011)

…because it’s not about forcing down knowledge into the heads of young people.

Children’s Universities are about exploring our world in a engaging and supportive way.

Since the beginning of the third millenium Children’s Universities have conquered many universities. Young and old institutions, large and small universities, in Europe and around the world, have opened up to children and developed programmes in different forms that allow children to learn about science and the people behind science.

Children’s Universities facilitate a necessary dialogue between children and scientists about our world. Sometimes including students. Sometimes including parents. But always including respect and acknowledgement of different viewpoints and transmitting the importance of critical questioning.

How does it work?

A good children’s university event begins with a question and ends with many questions. And a good children’s university event has a lot of room for dialogue.

There is not a sinlge form of Children’s Universities. In many cases still simulating traditional teaching models – as frontal lectures, sometimes for hundreds of children at the same time – we consider this form of a Children’s University already kind of outdated. But in almost all programmes more engaging forms of interaction as workshops and seminars for first-hand experimentation and research are offered anyway.

As European Children’s Universities Network we want to support organisers of Children’s Universities to share their experiences to the advantage of their young participants. We believe that such programmes can have a huge impact on the future learning journey of children. Considering the value of a critical mind we are convinced that Children’s Universities are the perfect places to bring young persons into contact with science, arts and humanities at large and to add to the science captical of children.

Descriptions of good practices and examples can be found in our eucu.net white book. You can download a pdf-version in our resources section.


More on Children’s Universities:
C. Gary and C. Dworsky (2013), “Children’s Universities – a ‘leading the way’ approach to support the engagement of higher education
institutions with and for children”, JCOM 12 (03): C04.