Barbara Batliner knew early on that she wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. After an au pair stay in Florence at the age of 17, she completed the kindergarten diploma in Lucerne and later the vocational baccalaureate with a focus on design. An internship in a street children’s project in Bolivia became another formative experience. She has now been working as a kindergarten teacher in Liechtenstein for over 20 years and has been campaigning for several years to open a public forest kindergarten in Liechtenstein. In her spare time she enjoys being in nature, reading and is always up for spontaneous and simple adventures. Barbara Batliner comes from Schaanwald, now lives with her family in Eschen and is 45 years old.
Where and how did you grow up?
Wonderfully uncomplicated in a neighbourhood on the edge of the forest with lots of children.
Could you describe your professional background?
Au pair Florence, kindergarten diploma school Lucerne, internship with street children in Bolivia, vocational baccalaureate in design.
Were there certain events or stations that were formative for your career?
In my life there were some experiences that were very formative. These events have to do with children. When I was responsible for three children in Florence at the age of 17 without any knowledge of Italian, it was very challenging. It was a new experience for me to live all alone without my family in a new place. But the openness of the children in Florence made it easy for me. They were the bridge to a new life full of new adventures.
During my internship in Bolivia, it was also the children who opened the door to a culture that was new to me.
Were there certain people who were formative for your career?
Renate, my first work colleague in a co-run kindergarten, was very influential for me. She had much more experience in teaching than I did. Her love for the children, her trust in the children’s development touched me again and again. She shared all her knowledge with me.
We were able to develop and implement new ideas and projects together. This free and open thinking gave me energy and a lot of joy. The children always gave us direct feedback on our work.
Has your environment supported you in your career?
My parents have been very supportive in everything.
What are your current activities?
Kindergarten teacher, collaborator in the association Natur(t)raum. Natur(t)raum is an association that offers nature experiences to children, young people and adults.
Does what you are currently doing fulfil you?
Working with children has fulfilled me for over 20 years. In my job I can use all my creativity and knowledge. The children always give me authentic feedback, they are very honest with no filters and I like that.
Do you think that you yourself have an influence on whether your activities are fulfilling?
I think I have a very strong influence on whether my work is fulfilling. In my work the organisation of time is very open and being creative and in the moment is such a joy. In my work I need good preparation and prior expertise. Then it is important to enter into an open process with that insight and the children. Being brave for the unplanned often opens up especially beautiful, unforgettable and touching moments.
What or who inspires you in everyday life?
People, my imagination, reading.
What or who gives you strength and energy in everyday life?
Family, nature, my inner fire and chocolate.
There are ‘magic moments’ when everything seems to fit. Moments that fulfil, inspire and give strength. Moments that confirm that the effort is worthwhile and that what you do is meaningful and valuable. Have you already experienced such moments in relation to your own activities?
It was autumn and I was on my way to our forest space with my kindergarten group. I had many ideas and materials for the forest morning in my head and in my backpack. Suddenly we came across a dead squirrel lying on our path. Looking at the squirrel and the children’s questions, the topic suddenly became death… and so we got into philosophising… a really inspiring moment. With children a magic moment multiplies.
Privately, magical moments arise for me with people and time and again in nature.
Do you actively do something for it, so that such ‘magic’ moments can happen?
It usually happens spontaneously and unexpectedly.
Are there moments when you doubt what you are doing?
Sometimes there are days in kindergarten when the children are loud, quarrelsome and exhausting. Then I sometimes get desperate.
In retrospect, can you find something positive in difficult moments?
Difficult moments in my life have taught me to trust my instincts, to be patient and to let go.
Do you want to contribute to society with your activities?
When a child enters kindergarten, it begins its school career towards primary school. The child is accepted into the social context of the kindergarten and is introduced to the world of school learning.
During their time in kindergarten, I would like to pass on to the children four values that I consider important for life. These are equality (being at the same level as each other), integrity (respecting boundaries), authenticity (being oneself) and responsibility (help me to do it myself).
Is the recognition of other people or the public important to you?
I am always happy to receive feedback.
Is there something that is particularly occupying you at the moment?
Nicole Frommelt and I would like to provide the impetus to open a state forest kindergarten in Liechtenstein. Through our joint cooperation we are constantly involved with the project of a kindergarten in the forest and its implementation. This process is simply a joy.
What are you most grateful for in life?
People who have opened doors for the idea of the forest kindergarten in a very surprising and uncomplicated way.
This interview is part of the project ‘Magic Moments’ by Kunstverein Schichtwechsel, in which people are interviewed about their careers, activities and their magical as well as difficult moments.
Curated by Stefani Andersen and Laura Hilti, Kunstverein Schichtwechsel.
Supported by Kulturstiftung Liechtenstein and Stiftung Fürstl. Kommerzienrat Guido Feger.
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