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Germany

A Teacher's Best Friend: Dogs Help German Students Learn

Gabi Orrù, a fifth-grade teacher at the Heinrich Andresen School in the northern German town of Sterup, has a staff of two, but they aren't paid a dime and sometimes they scratch their ears during class.

Her assistants, Stableford and Dimple, are Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, who have been coming to morning classes since 2012 after Orrù completed training in how to integrate the dogs to support the learning process for her students.

The idea has proved so popular that some children want to attend the school just because of the dogs, Die Welt reports. Orrù stresses that the training required is considerable and that the dogs cannot be transferred from teacher to teacher. They have to remain with their owner/trainer.

Her classroom has a sign on the door that reads Mrs. Orrù & Dogs. Among the pooch-friendly touches in her specially equipped classroom is a rest area with soft blankets because the pups also need an occasional break from what can be a hectic classroom, with loud noise levels and much rule-breaking. Twenty percent of the children in Orrù’s class have special needs.

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Photo: Heinrich Andresen School

"The dogs help just by their mere presence to create a different atmosphere," Orrù says. A pupil named Jessica says that "we concentrate more" when the dogs are here.

"It's quieter when the dogs are here, and the kids can pet them after they've done their work. It's a way to lower stress levels," Orrù says before calling out in English "Who has water for the dogs?" A boy named Luca fills the water bowls. A girl named Marie arrives late, and Dimple gives her a big welcome.

Another student named Aidan says that when the dogs are there, "I feel better."

Orrù says she puts the dogs on the tables "when things need to be quieted down and I can't get the kids to pipe down any other way." Dimple has also been trained to fetch things, like the bag with flash cards for learning English.

Because of the dog-supported learning, among other factors, the school has been cited as a "school of the future" by the Institute for Quality Development in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.


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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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