Ada Abroad: Living and Working in Germany

An online journal recording two years spent as a Fulbright/Pedagogical Exchange Service Teaching Assistant at secondary schools in Germany. (2003-2004 I was in a village near Bautzen; 2004-2005 I will be in Nordrhein-Westfalen.)

Name:
Location: Münster, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany

I'm an American living in Germany, working as a foreign language assistant at a secondary school. Future plans: getting my Ph.D. (probably in Germanic Linguistics), becoming a professor, living an ethical and meaningful life.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The German School System, Part I

People back home ask me home German schools differ from schools in the U.S. In the following couple of posts, I will attempt to answer this question. Hopefully my explanation will be of some interest to at least some of you. But if I bore you to tears, then I apologize, and I promise to return to sarcastic commentary and caustic witicisms soon.

(Be advised that, as in the U.S., the German educational system does differ somewhat from state to state. I´m in Saxony. Some things I mention may be true for Saxony but differ slightly in other parts of the country.)

The first difference that Americans notice, and probably also the biggest difference between the American educational system and the German one, is that there are two completely separate kinds of secondary school. The first kind is called a Gymnasium, and that has nothing to do with physical education. A Gymnasium is basically a college prepatory high school, attended by students in grades 5-13. About one-third of German students are tracked into Gymnasien. (No, that`s not a typo. There really is a thirteenth grade in Germany.) Before leaving school, Gymnasiasten have to take a very challenging exam called the Abitur in order to get their diplomas.

The other kind of high school is called a Mittelschule (in Saxony, anyway). Mittelschule ends after grade 10. Pupils who attend Mittelschulen are divided into two streams after the sixth grade: Hauptschule, which is basically remedial education, and Realschule, which is where more average students end up. Hauptschüler leave school after the ninth grade, usually without any kind of diploma, and then take menial jobs. Realschüler have to take an exam before they leave school after grade 10. Then they begin apprenticeships in any of a number of fields (among other things, nurses and travel agents don`t need an Abitur). Some also transfer to a Gymnasium to finish their studies.

In order to eventually get a university diploma, you first need an Abitur, which you can only get if you attend a Gymnasium. The German educational system is widely criticized because it starts streaming pupils at a very young age. --When do they decide whether your little darling is Gymnasium (and hence, college-preparatory) material? In the fourth grade. Supposedly this is done by looking at grades, evaluating the student`s ability to work independently, etc. But in practice it also has something to do with the parents' occupations. If little Florian is a bit of a dim bulb but his parents are a lawyer and an architect, you can bet that he`ll nevertheless start fifth grade in a Gymnasium. And, on the other hand, if little Ilkai does well in elementary school but her parents are a janitor and a housewife, and moreover, she's Turkish, then she'll probably be shunted into a Mittelschule.

You may have picked up on the fact that I have a problem with this system.

But there`s also something else that I have even more of a problem with-- namely, German schools offer absolutely no support for students with learning disabilities. Children with actual mental retardation (as well as severe physical disabilities) are sent away to special residential schools. But there`s no help at all for learning disabled kids. They usually just get sentenced to Hauptschule, and, therefore, to a life of menial labor. The situation is made worse by the fact that German children are held back if they fail a single subject in school, and by the fact that homeroom classes stay together in all subjects. So, a learning disabled student who has a lot of trouble reading but is, say, of average or even superior intelligence in math, still has to take remedial math, because he`s in a remedial homeroom. And if he fails English (even though he got a B in math), then he has to repeat the whole year. --Repeating a year is very common for Hauptschüler.

Needless to say, Hauptschüler are usually pretty embittered by the time they reach ninth grade. In my estimation, 75% of them have undiagnosed learning disabilities.

This situation makes me angry, because a lot of these kids could succeed if they got proper support. Take one of my favories-- a seventh-grade girl who I`ll call Erika. Erika has a lot of trouble reading. When reading aloud, she mixes up letters and has a tendency to just look at the first letter of a word and then guess what it should be. I strongly suspect that she's dyslexic. But, the kid is not stupid!!! As long as a task doesn't require her to read, she does just as well as any of the other students. In addition, she's quite motivated-- she's taking an extra English class as an elective, even though she could take a health class (which would probably be a lot easier for her). And she always volunteers to answer questions.

But, Erika is of course a Hauptschüler. This means that she's already been condemned to life as a cleaning lady or a cashier, even though she's only 13. In the U.S. she`d go to the resource room a few times a week for extra help with her reading, and she'd learn strategies to get around her reading handicap. Nothing like that exists here-- I've asked. In the U.S., she might still be in a remedial English class, but she could take classes like math or geography at a higher level. She'd have the opportunity to finish high school and probably attend at least a community college, and she wouldn't be doomed to a dead-end job. In short, Erika would be able to achieve the same things as the Realschüler, although she would have to work harder to get there.

But this is Germany. And the school authorities decided that Erika was an Epsilon.

33 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll send a copy of your latest posting to the Rauser's. I'm sure they will be interesting in seeing the difference in school systems.

Rick

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Your average high school student said...

How do they justify that? That is prejudiced and unfair. I am a High School student, and I can truly see how bad that would be. This is much the same idea Hitler had: if someone has one deficiency, they have them all. If anyone up there had any brains at all, this would be changed. I would protest in person, but I don't have that kind of money.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im writing a essay of the exact same thing and i absolutely agree with you.very interesting by the way.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous exchange student said...

Dear high school student,

keep in mind, that the school system in Germany and in America is way different.

I am an exchange student for about 9 months now and I think I have a good knowledge of both kind of educational systems.

The school system in germany is very fair in my opinion. It has nothing to do with Hitler at all and to say that germans have no brain is very stupid. The System is very challenging for german students and only if you give your best and study a lot you can achive a great goal that helps you to get a job easier. It is called the Abitur.

If you are not as bright you can go on to 10th grade and achive your diploma. However that does not tell you, that you have to work as a low-income employee your whole life.

I think this article has a lot of false criticism and does not show you the full range of the actual german school system. (I do notice that this is only part 1)

If I would have more time I could go on about this topic, but I have to go for now. I might write back more another time.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous exchange student said...

Dear high school student,

keep in mind, that the school system in Germany and in America is way different.

I am an exchange student for about 9 months now and I think I have a good knowledge of both kind of educational systems.

The school system in germany is very fair in my opinion. It has nothing to do with Hitler at all and to say that germans have no brain is very stupid. The System is very challenging for german students and only if you give your best and study a lot you can achive a great goal that helps you to get a job easier. It is called the Abitur.

If you are not as bright you can go on to 10th grade and achive your diploma. However that does not tell you, that you have to work as a low-income employee your whole life.

I think this article has a lot of false criticism and does not show you the full range of the actual german school system. (I do notice that this is only part 1)

If I would have more time I could go on about this topic, but I have to go for now. I might write back more another time.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

I wonder what happens to students entering the country, who don't know German yet? Are they automatically sent to Hauptschule?

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think, you are comparing apples and oranges.
I teach at a high school in the US, but I graduated from a gymnasium and a German university. By your description, I should not have done that since my father was a coalminer. I could not have attended college if I had grown up in the US because College in Gemany did not cost me a penny. My intelligence was all it took to get me a great education.
The German system is neither unfair nor based on Nazi ideology. It developped historically. Public schools were, if I remember correctly, instituted by Frederic the Great in Prussia when the US was still a collection of colonies.

You forgot to mention that chosing a school is not a classification like you would find in "Brave New World." Students can transfer beween schools types even after the fifth grade, but once schools start instruction in the third language,algebra, geometry around the 7th grade, it becomes very difficult.

There are schools that will give you the right to attend college that you can attend after completing the Hauptschule.

And the students in the Hauptschule are by no means mentally deficient or deprived of education. They can and do become apprecentices, journeymen and master artisans, not cashiers and dayworkers. That is a path that is not common in the US.(history again)
By comparison, you have very intelligent children languishing in American elementary, middle and high schools because their teachers teach the (non-existent) middle of the class. And you have a plethora of those who will never achieve their potential because they were never challenged or needed to "blend in" and let no one see how intelligent they really were.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ленинград хуй
playboy reply php forum
порновидео детей
телки днепра
порно видео черных
гепатиты секс
порно видео беплатно
секс шопы белорусии
лучшие секс фотографии
порно видео просмотреть бесплатно

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

welcome to wow power leveling and wow gold OR wow gold

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nodo http://blogs-new.bestfriends.org/members/Vacuum-Cleaners/default.aspx vicissitudes http://blogs-new.bestfriends.org/members/Annuity-Calculator/default.aspx caulk http://blogs-new.bestfriends.org/members/Bariatric-Surgery/default.aspx nanopores http://blogs-new.bestfriends.org/members/Electric-Blankets/default.aspx mergers http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Furnace-Filters.aspx goucher http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Vending-Machines.aspx greenway http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Kitchen-Cabinets.aspx stumph http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Slipcovers.aspx palatals http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Polar-Heart-Rate-Monitors.aspx surrendered http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Popcorn-Machines.aspx communityone http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Garage-Door-Openers.aspx conformance http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Area-Rugs.aspx tints http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Omeprazole.aspx sipon http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Vacuum-Cleaners.aspx uranium http://www.netknowledgenow.com/members/Annuity-Calculator.aspx carte

9:17 AM  
Blogger sophie said...

Great views, I’m loving this discussion :-)

study abroad

10:25 AM  
Blogger joancasilo said...

I have gone through this blog. I found it very interesting and helpful. Nowadays I am completing my studies from home only.
And this blog really doing great for me. This blog also offers me more ideas and advices concerned to my career.


Study From Home

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ada makes it sound very bad but I disagree. If you pull substandard students by their ears, you end up with people who SHOULD be janitors attending college. I would estimate that only about 1/3 of students at my college belonged there. Majority of people had rudimentary learning skills, very limited math skills, etc. I will never forget how our finance instructor wrote a really simple exponential equation on the boards and no one except for me had any clue how to solve it. As I recall, I learned how to solve exponential equations in seventh grade at my school.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am German and trust me this is true. My grandparents were from Hungary and I get still treated like a foreigner. Even though I had very good grades they won't let me attend a good school, I had to go to a school with a huge amount of foreigners (mostly Turks). Germans are NAZIS thy mistreat foreigners, they always made me feel like I am not German even though I was born there. Luckily I live in the states now, its also difficult over here but at least they let me attend a college and so far I have passed all my classes and I was labeled as a "stupid hauptschueler" in Germany. Here I have I got a total new perspective on my future. For the first time I had the same chances as everyone else.

Ohhh and to the guy whose dad was a colemine worker or wtv, when did you enter gymnasium??? I mean what year was that, I by you haven't been to Germany in a long time. Back then you were able to achieve what you did, my uncle went to hauptschule and became a safety architect. Nowadays this ain't working anymore, if you go to hauptshule you are condemned to become a cleaning lady for the rest of your life. Fuck the German school system, the country is great but the teachers and some of the Germans are true NAZIS not towards jews nowadays towards Turks and other foreigners. Fuck you German Hitler lovers, do us all a favour and kill yourself. My brothers teacher had a picture of Hitler in her desk she loved Hitler, all the German teachers love Hitler. They are so sick and brain damaged, luckily me and my foreign friends always beated those gymnasium bastards up. Fuck them, I hate them.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Order Fluoxetine said...

The article was very interesting and informative for me.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wοw, thiѕ artiсle іѕ fastidious, mу уounger sistеr is anаlyzing these kіnds of thіngs, thеrefoгe I am
going tο let κnow her.
Here is my web blog : loans for bad credit

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ebook reader readius http://audiobookscollection.co.uk/fr/Inside-the-IMF-An-Ethnography-of-Documents-Technology-and-Organizational-Action/p227043/ quick change artists ebook [url=http://audiobookscollection.co.uk/Historical-Fiction/c111/?page=2]ebook cheap[/url] core servlets and javaserver pages ebook

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ebook download performance ignition systems electron http://audiobookscollection.co.uk/de/Closer-To-Truth-Science-Meaning-and-the-Future/p221425/ qbq ebook [url=http://audiobookscollection.co.uk/de/A-Storm-of-Swords-A-Song-of-Ice-and-Fire-Book-III/p22811/]phonics comics and ebook or download[/url] stop walking on eggshells ebook

3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

water for gas ebook http://audiobooksworld.co.uk/Nobuhito-Imanaka/m93669/ templar ebook [url=http://audiobooksworld.co.uk/authors/?letter=Q&page=3]php ebook store script[/url] novell ebook
[url=http://audiobooksworld.co.uk/Photoshop-CS5-All-in-One-For-Dummies/p197317/][img]http://audiobooksworld.co.uk/image/1.gif[/img][/url]

4:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

matter management software http://buyoem.co.uk/de/category-100-108/Office-Tools whos helping you software [url=http://buyoem.co.uk/product-35619/NCH-MixPad-Audio-Mixer-2-5]computer security software tracing[/url] ww journal software
[url=http://buyoem.co.uk/fr/information-3/Politique-de-confidentialit-]Politique de confidentialite - Cheap Legal OEM Software, Software Sale, Download OEM[/url] wifi locate connect software download
[url=http://buyoem.co.uk/product-36853/Couco-Audiobook-Player-1-0][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/4.gif[/img][/url]

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maximus inventory software http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/news-30/Windows-Azure-users-will-have-to-pay-from-next-month gigabeat f60 software [url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-36200/Serial-Port-Tool-Comm-Operator-4-5]mergers and acquisitions software[/url] medical billing software compatible with quickbooks
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/category-100-103/Graphics-and-Publishing]Graphics & Publishing - Software Store[/url] mechanical contractors accounting software
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-37163/Ultralingua-6-0-Spanish-German][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/7.gif[/img][/url]

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sheet metal layout software http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-28563/ElectraSoft-First-Alert-Service-Monitor-09-10-01 windows sp3 software [url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-36227/NovaStor-NovaBACKUP-Business-Essentials-2-0-Multilanguage]sunplus spca533 software[/url] blackberry software will not open
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-33397/Adobe-Photoshop-CS5-Extended-MAC]Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended MAC - Download OEM, Software Sale, OEM Software[/url] winferno software inc
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-37122/Pdf2Word-2-1][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/6.gif[/img][/url]

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

geniology album software http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/de/product-36830/IBM-SPSS-Text-Analytics-for-Surveys-4-0-x64 best wireless software [url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-15447/Sisoftware-Sandra-Professional-2007-Sp1]ornamental pro drawing software[/url] p1225 software
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/fr/category-100-104/Extensions-de-logiciel]Extensions de logiciel - Software Store[/url] best software to monitor myspace activity
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/fr/product-37227/Nufsoft-NatureStudio-2-5][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/1.gif[/img][/url]

3:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

duplicate file finder full software http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/fr/category-13/Logiciel-de-musique?page=3 accounting software contractor small business [url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/product-37021/Alltags-Adressen-2011-German]blackbery curve free software[/url] what software is all about
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/fr/category-100-104/Extensions-de-logiciel]Extensions de logiciel - Software Store[/url] google sandbox keyword software
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/fr/category-8/Outils-de-l-Office?page=5][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/7.gif[/img][/url]

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

accu-chek software http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/fr/product-36428/Benthic-Software-Golden-6-6-0 telecommunication billing software [url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/category-4/Software-Plugins?page=7]computer software horseracing programs[/url] sum it software for test cost
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/es/product-16128/Adobe-Acrobat-8-Professional-Mac]Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional [Mac] - Cheap Legal OEM Software, Software Sale, Download OEM[/url] billing and accounts software
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/product-36139/Replace-Studio-Pro-7-5-x64][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/5.gif[/img][/url]

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

opennet networking software http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/product-36835/RL-Vision-Exif-Tag-Remover-4-1 simply payroll software [url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/it/product-36501/MathMagic-Pro-Edition-For-QuarkXpress-5-5]get software keys code[/url] yahoo messanger repair software
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/product-35391/Adobe-Creative-Suite-5-5-Master-Collection-MultiLanguage]Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection MultiLanguage - Software Store[/url] accu weather free software
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/de/product-36236/Zards-Software-Startup-Defender-2-8][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/4.gif[/img][/url]

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/catalogue/d.htm][img]http://onlinemedistore.com/6.jpg[/img][/url]
online mexico pharmacy ultram http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/avapro.htm inexperienced pharmacy technician [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/categories/anti-diabetic.htm]oregon state mandatory pharmacy technition certification[/url]
pharmacy technician tutorial help http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/himplasia.htm bristol ri pharmacy s [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/relafen.htm]relafen[/url]
dewlaware state board of pharmacy http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/kamasutra-intensity-condoms.htm jordan pharmacy school [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/kamasutra-ribbed-condoms.htm]cvs pharmacy franchise[/url]
pharmacy prerequisite chicago http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/toprol-xl.htm pharmacy technician course curriculum [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/lopressor.htm]lopressor[/url]

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/singulair.htm][img]http://onlinemedistore.com/9.jpg[/img][/url]
the goods and bads of pharmacy testing http://redbrickstore.co.uk/catalogue/v.htm texas tech school of pharmacy [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/apcalis-sx.htm]international jobs canada pharmacy[/url]
lyonville pharmacy http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/hard-on-oral-jelly.htm ga board of pharmacy technicians [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/norvasc.htm]norvasc[/url]
pharmacy job http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/protonix.htm online courses for pharmacy [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/cystone.htm]canda pharmacy[/url]
pharmacy flu shots http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/himcolin.htm c citalopram drug health medication pharmacy [url=http://redbrickstore.co.uk/products/apcalis-sx.htm]apcalis sx[/url]

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

comment 5, [url=http://buycarafateonline.tumblr.com]carafate buy[/url]. comment 2, carafate buy http://buycarafateonline.tumblr.com cheap carafate
comment 7, [url=http://buyesidrixonline.tumblr.com]online esidrix[/url]. comment 9, cheap esidrix http://buyesidrixonline.tumblr.com buy esidrix
comment 2, [url=http://buyalesseonline.tumblr.com]alesse purchase[/url]. comment 3, alesse birth control buy http://buyalesseonline.tumblr.com buy alesse online canada

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

comment 3, [url=http://buyoxybutynin.tumblr.com]oxybutynine online bestellen[/url]. comment 4, buy oxybutynin uk http://buyoxybutynin.tumblr.com buy oxybutynine online
comment 5, [url=http://buyneoralonline.tumblr.com]neoral purchase[/url]. comment 4, neoral buy http://buyneoralonline.tumblr.com order neoral
comment 8, [url=http://buyaltace.tumblr.com]buy altace[/url]. comment 7, buy altace http://buyaltace.tumblr.com altace buy

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

comment 4, [url=http://buyanafranilnow.tumblr.com]anafranil cheap[/url]. comment 8, buy anafranil clomipramine http://buyanafranilnow.tumblr.com anafranil buy uk
comment 8, [url=http://buyendeponline.tumblr.com]buy endep online[/url]. comment 5, endep purchase http://buyendeponline.tumblr.com buy endep 10
comment 9, [url=http://buylosartannow.tumblr.com]losartan buy online[/url]. comment 9, losartan potassium buy online http://buylosartannow.tumblr.com losartan cheap

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

100 free dating site in eroup http://loveepicentre.com/testimonials/ dating in leipers fork
friend finder dating services [url=http://loveepicentre.com]summary of a dating website[/url] kamloops dating sites
who is danile tosh dating [url=http://loveepicentre.com/testimonials/]adult dating san jose[/url] free dating sites in thaiand [url=http://loveepicentre.com/user/DORANB/]DORANB[/url] free full dating sites

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

online dating dating personal love internet http://loveepicentre.com internet dating scams
teen dating program wicca [url=http://loveepicentre.com/faq/]dating possibly gay man[/url] converted catholic dating
adult flirt social dating matches [url=http://loveepicentre.com/]comparing relative dating to absolute dating[/url] kinky singles dating [url=http://loveepicentre.com/user/todoradev/]todoradev[/url] who is miriam mcdonald dating

2:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home