Saturday, October 2, 2010

Below is a photo of my school, in the snow.
No, it is not snowing here yet.
I found this online and I posted it here
because I can't wait for it to be snowing.

A lot of people ask me what the school is like
and this is the best explanation I can give:
erase whatever impressions you have of the American school system
because the German system is completely different.

After the Grundschule (elementary school),
the student (and the student's parents)
decide if he or she will go to either
the Gymnasium or the Hauptschule.

Choosing the Gymnasium
means that you are planning on going to a University,
as it will prepare you for the entry exams.
Choosing the Hauptschule
means that your future career path
does not require a University degree,
and that your Hauptschule diploma will suffice.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding this system;
for instance,
what 10-11 year old is ready to decide their career path?
Their parents help them decide, of course,
but there is controversy with that as well.
If the student's parents did not go to a University,
they typically enroll the student in the Hauptschule,
seeing it unnecessary
for their student to attend a University as well.

I teach at both a Gymnasium and a Hauptschule.
The widely-known stereotype is that
the "smart kids" go to Gymansium
and the "not as smart kids" go to the Hauptschule.
As an insider, I'm not crazy about the school system.
I think it only widens the gap between
"the smart" and "the not as smart".
When I explained the American school system in class one time,
the response was, "But what about the smart kids?",
"Why is there no separation?", etc.

Regardless of the school system,
I love both schools and am so happy to be there.
One thing in particular that I like
is that the faculty members speaks German to me all the time
even though I am sure their English
is much better than my German.

Sometimes, though, this is a double-edged sword.
For instance,
one of the teachers called me the other night
to ask if I could help her with standardized testing.
This is what I heard when I picked up the phone:
"Hallo, Jennifer? aofdfajksfdj...
asofiasodfkj qwouerjxv....aoo!! efofsdfj, erweriu."

Then she ended the conversation with,
"Alles klar? Danke!".
I was chatting online with my friend Zach
and after I hung up, I typed to him:
"I have no idea what just happened.
A teacher from my school called me
and I have no idea what she said to me.
I just know that I am supposed to call her back.
Oh, I also do not know her name."

I understood enough
to know she wanted me to check my schedule
and call her back
so I looked up her number in the faculty directory
and figured out who it was I was calling.
I figured that was an important thing to know.

The second phone conversation was easier.
And I understood what I was supposed to do.
....for the most part.

Oh, the German language.

Jan said...

That's interesting about the 2 types of schools. I'm glad it's not like that here though.

Celeste said...

How beautiful! I can't wait for it to be snowing there for you :) And German sounds so difficult but you must be getting so much better now that you live there!

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