School in Germany

After checking out Bethann’s blog and her interview about school in China, I decided I would show you some information a friend had sent me about school in Germany!  It is so interesting learning about school from other parts of the world.  Here is the information she sent me!

What Myri had to say about school in Germany and her experiences:

Children aged three to six may attend kindergarten. After that school is compulsory for nine or ten years. From grades 1 through 4 children attend elementary school (Grundschule), where the subjects taught are the same for all. Then, after the 4th grade, they are separated according to their academic ability and the wishes of their families, and attend one of three different kinds of schools: Hauptschule, Realschule or Gymnasium.[1] As well as Gesamtschule. Let me refer to it later, when I explain the visualization.

  1. I attended kindergarten from age 4 to 6
  2. Went to local elementary school (parents mostly choose the local elementary school, but they have the choice of sending their kids to private schools as well, most of which are probably better: less students in classes and well trained teachers
  3. After elementary school i was sent to gymnasium. My teacher had to write a report about my academic abilities and reference my abilities for attending this school. My mom decided that i should go there, she could have decided to send me to another school, but this was the best for me as it gave me the best chances of succeeding in the German school system
  4. I graduated from Gymnasium (my school: www.gymnasium-letmathe.de) after 13 years of school. Since 3 years students get to graduate after 12 years when attending Gymnasium.

1.)    obligatory education starts at age 6 with entering elementary school (grade 1 -4)

2.)    elementary school ends at the age of 9 and this is when teachers and parents have to make decisions about the academic future of the kids. According to their academic abilities kids are sent to different schools:

Hauptschule:         kids who have difficulties at school. Those who struggle with major subjects like math, german or nowadays even english.  Kids who don’t have cognitive abilities to transfer knowledge into actions and might even have difficulties to reproduce. Kids       who don’t speak German fluently and due to that have trouble keeping up with what has been taught. Mostly takes you to grade 9 and offers you grade 10 if you are good enough, so you can go for the next higher educational level, what would be called “Mittlere Reife”. If you decided to leave school after grade 9 you won’t have great chances on the employment market. You are lucky to get lower paid, mostly blue collar jobs.

Realschule:             Kids who are doing ok in school, who might struggle with one  major subject or who have slight difficulties with certain tasks. Realschule takes you the students up to grade 10 and enables the students to go for a fairly good apprenticeship, but doesn’t give you the ability to study at a university. Nevertheless if you graduate with good marks/grades you can go for your A-levels and enter the second  level of the secondary school.

Gymnasium:           This is where kids go who don’t struggle in elementary school, whose cognitive abilities are fairly well developed and who are able to transfer knowledge into action. It’s the highest form of these school types and your kid has the best chances of getting a good job as it allows you to attend university after completing your A-levels after grade 12.

Gesamtschule:        This is a comprehensive form of those three schools which is more and more supported by german politics, as the separation of classes after grade 4 into “groups of academic abilities” is no longer existent. Kids of all academic abilities and as well of all cognitive abilities are taught together and special classes are offered to support weak students as well as especially help good students improve and develop further.

My classes:

Elementary school: My class had 28 students, 16 girls and 12 boys. We had one teacher who took care of us during class 1 & 2 and then got a new teacher for grade 3 & 4. Those main teachers taught major subjects like maths, writing, reading and geology. We had sports and music as well as crafting with other teachers twice a week.

Classes were nice and our teachers were very nice to us. It was a nice atmosphere, but i have to admit that my elementary school probably would be considered as the opposite of conservative. (www.bartholomaeusgrundschule.de)

Gymnasium:           My class had 30 students and it was exactly 15 girls and 15 boys. Classroom atmosphere was not as nice as in elementary school, but very strict and conservative. Every 2 years we would get a new “class teacher” who would lead our class and take care of us. Classes are mainly teacher focussed, so students listened while teacher was teaching.

In grade 10 many students had already left my school, as pressure was pretty high, so they made 3 classes out of the 4 we started with in grade 5 and my class then had 33 students.

Grade 11: there is no class you meet for discussions: all 100 students would meet at gatherings to get news and 1 person was responsible for everybody in this grade.

 During the time at school, we had many field trips:

 Grade 4: Local field trip for 5 days to a hostel in a natural reserve

Grade 6: sightseeing tour: 3 days to Trier, Germany

Grade 8: Island tour to german island in the north sea (Langeoog) (1 week)

Grade 10: skiing to austria (10 days)

 Grade 12 Italy: sightseeing trip to tuscany. (10 days as well).

 Could school be more beneficial?

I think it could, as I told u earlier as a students there is a lot of pressure which does not always get students to study harder but it scares them away and frightens them. So taking that away (maybe Gesamtschule might lead the way) would make the German school system more beneficial for the german society by producing more qualified employees.

I think there are many aspects of the German school system which are to be criticized sharply, especially when it comes to the separation of the students after grade four according to their academic abilities.

I myself as a teacher-to-be would ask for classes with less students (my classes all are bigger than 30 kids each) to be able to help students individually. This would help lots. On the other hand also the way teachers work: most teachers have 2 or 3 subjects and they work in mostly all grades. It would be more effective to have 3 grade 10 classes than 1 grade 5, 1 grade 7 and 1 grade 10 to prepare lessons for and check tests etc. …

Thanks Myriam for sending me the information!  I hope you all enjoy reading what she has to say.  Myriam is one of my best friends and we both have in common that fact that we are going in to be teachers.  Myriam is also in her internship years of school.  She is in a two year internship in Germany.  Their university program to become an educator is a bit more intense than ours is… but then again, look at the differences in our education systems!  It has been an eye opener learning from her over the past year and I know that someday she will make a great educator!

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