Rainer Heise – or the new requirement profile for padagogues

After Robert Steinhauser’s killing spree at the Gutenberg Gymnasium in Erfurt, which killed 17 people, caused a worldwide sensation, the media focus on the hero of Erfurt: history and art teacher Rainer Heise (60), himself modest, is stylized as a super-padagogue who kept his wits about him in the bloodiest event in German post-war school history and lured the perpetrator into a negotiation trap. Is Heise’s behavior a mabstab for the padagogue in the age of private and global terror?

Right up front: "I do not feel like a hero. I acted instinctively and will do it again." According to Rainer Heise in print and TV interviews over the weekend. On Friday morning there was a graduation atmosphere at Gutenberg-Gymnasium. The normal lessons had to submit to the consecrations of the mathematics baccalaureate and had to do without bells.

When the first shots fell, Heise quickly sent his art school students out of the classroom. Thus the (attention) killer later lacked the peer audience that was present at the other executions. A little later the dark masked perpetrator appeared in Heise’s near hallway. Heise locked himself in to persevere between horror and hope. Then, half an hour later, a shuffle in the corridor, Heise opens the door and sees the young ninja. "He immediately held the pistol to my chest, then slowly pulled the cap off his face." Earlier, a private TV station had claimed that Heise had pulled off the perpetrator’s muzzle directly in the corridor in order to identify him. However: Heise recognizes a former schoolboy. Now follows the sentence in which the terror passes over into civil courageous padagogy:

"Robert, you can shoot me now. But you have to look me in the eye."

Thereupon the spree killer pulls away and puts the pistol aside. With the unmasking, he has left the role of the ice-cold killer, who wants to take revenge on the entire teaching staff in a technically adept way. Maybe Heise was a person he could respect. In any case, Heise seems to be able to address him, to have an effect on him, as on the schoolboy in the old days. Why?

The rest is quickly told, Steinhauser pulled, Heise can uberrumpeln and lure him into a classroom ("You can take your gun with you") and Robert, who walks in front of him, rushed in on the threshold and locked up. Robert shoots himself a little later to escape the police and the law. But the question remains: Why does Robert love himself influenced by Rainer Heise?

This question is extremely difficult to answer. And yet: Heise put his existence on the line and set against Robert’s disguise as a killing machine the incisive gaze of the other, who takes his opponent seriously as a person even in the midst of the bloody deed and remains calm on the surface. Heise did not like to be misled by fear and panic, he confronted the law of horror with his fragile personality. A teacher with a sense of human risk in the middle of the deadly realization of a violent mud flick. Such a cool authority without authority, with the ruse of powerlessness – that seems to have thrown Robert off his stride.

Heise’s responsible ethical prudence and his modesty now in the media hype distinguishes him from those political cleaners who want to make the youth from now on value-conservative with bans from above free of violence. If the delirious Robert had experienced such outstanding encounters earlier and more often, much suffering would have been prevented in a country that too often discusses even the political fight against terror only in faceless techno-military categories.

Politicians, educators, parents and schoolchildren are far from unanimous on the ie of nonviolence in schools. As long as each group cooks its own selfish special soup, the idea of education and school life as a non-violent, civil public sphere in which individuals mature into creative members of a society with a future will continue to fall into disrepair. A teacher like Rainer Heise could breathe a bit of life back into it that would pass more than a Pisa test.

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