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    The German Way Fritz 12/24/2020 (Thu) 14:53:26 No. 507
    Wenn Sie eine Armee von 100 Löwen aufbauen und deren Anführer ein Hund ist, sterben die Löwen in jedem Kampf wie ein Hund. Aber wenn Sie eine Armee von 100 Hunden aufbauen und deren Anführer ein Löwe ist, kämpfen alle Hunde wie ein Löwe. Si vous construisez une armée de 100 lions et que leur chef est un chien, dans n'importe quel combat, les lions mourront comme un chien. mais si vous construisez une armée de 100 chiens et que leur chef est un lion, tous les chiens se battront comme un lion. If you build an army of 100 lions and their leader is a dog, in any fight, the lions will die like a dog. But if you build an army of 100 dogs and their leader is a lion, all dogs will fight like a lion. Napoleon Bonaparte
    Edited last time by admin on 12/24/2020 (Thu) 14:55:41.
    The helicopter parents have it all wrong. This is why we can learn a lot from parents living in foreign countries. Although moving to a foreign country can feel like a culture shock in itself, nothing prepared American writer Sara Zaske for the vast difference in parenting styles between Germans and Americans. “The first time I went to a playground in Berlin, I freaked,” Zaske wrote for TIME. “Where were the piles of soft padded foam? The liability notices? The personal injury lawyers?” Zaske quickly realized that German parents had adopted a “free-range parenting” style long before it became the norm back home. And rather than confirming the worst fears, it’s had a surprisingly positive impact in their children’s success.
    So, what does it take to parent like a German? First off, contrary to popular belief, academics shouldn’t be the first priority for your child—especially while they’re below grade school age. They should spend more time playing and socializing with their peers, instead. (Don’t miss the signs you’re raising emotionally intelligent children.) German children are also encouraged to play outside, no matter the weather. If it’s cold, just bundle them up in extra layers. Too hot? Grab a water bottle and find some shade. As the Germans say, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Plus, German parents value independence, Zaske says. Most allow their grade school kids to walk home from school and around their neighborhoods alone. Their only safety concern: Traffic, not abductions. (There’s an important reason why Japanese children are the healthiest in the world, too.) Finally, Germans celebrate when a child begins first grade; in fact, it’s considered as big of a life milestone as reaching adulthood and getting married. They mark the occasion with a large party at the school, which usually takes place on a Saturday. Each student receives a Zuckertute, or a giant cone filled with knick-knacks like pencils, watches, and candy. Afterwards, family and friends are invited over for a second party. The celebration, called Einschulung, “is something children look forward to for years,” Zaske writes. “It signals a major life change, and hopefully, an enthusiasm for learning.” She’s not wrong there; data shows that the German parenting method really works. A 2012 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that German 15-year-olds outperform the international average in reading, math, and science. Their American counterparts, on the other hand, tend to lag behind. The next time you feel the urge to walk your child to their bus stop or hover over them as they do homework, step back and reconsider. We could all learn a lesson or two from German moms and dads.
    One of the main appeals for expat parents is the German parenting style which encourages children to be self-reliant throughout childhood. Generally speaking, German parents strive to prepare their children to be independent as adults. They view the family home as a place to nurture a child’s individuality and aspirations; yet, without ‘wrapping them in cotton wool’, so to speak.
    not just feed children but teach them to live.
    Essentially, children in Germany are treated more like adults. As a result, men and women will greet and speak to them as such. Interestingly, most youngsters move out of their parents’ home when they go to university, or become financially independent. This is good news for parents hoping to enjoy some well-deserved freedom after raising their children.
    The German practice of giving children more independence early on creates more resilient and responsible grownups, says this American mom. In Germany, as well as other economically advanced countries, children are raised with more freedom than American children. When journalist Sara Zaske moved to Berlin with her family a few years ago, she noticed something different about German parents. They don't hover. They don't follow their kids on the playground or intervene when they fight. They let them go places on their own and play with knives and matches. Zaske was so struck by this cultural difference
    Zaske argues that the German practice of giving children more independence and responsibility early on fosters Selbständigkeit, or self-reliance, and creates more resilient and responsible grownups. Somewhat like Pamela Druckerman, author of "Bringing Up Bébé," Zaske believes that American parents should chill out a bit and not be so controlling, and their kids will still turn out just fine — maybe even better.
    ... agrees that in Germany, as well as other economically advanced countries, children are raised with more freedom than American children, "and the benefits seem to come through for them — they're more self-reliant."
    According to the Gesell Institute, by the time most kids are four they have the vocabulary and maturity to work out disagreements with their peers by themselves. So the next time your five-year-old complains that his playmate or sibling won’t share or let him have a turn, instead of playing traffic cop, try asking, “Do you think you two can figure it out?” (you should still intervene if they’re hitting each other.)
    Yes, it’s often faster and easier if you order for them, but resist the temptation (unless they’re pre-verbal). By letting your kids tell the server what they want, you’re showing that you respect them as individuals and trust their ability to do things on their own, which will build their self-confidence.
    The number-one thing American children need to develop independence, Zaske believes, is more physical freedom. Start small: The next time you take your kids to the playground, try simply sitting on a bench where they can see you instead of following them around. Slowly work your way up to letting them go somewhere by themselves, Zaske suggests: Accompany them the first time they go someplace new. Teach them how to cross the street safely and what they should do if a stranger approaches. Better yet, find a friend or sibling for them to go with. Jennifer Sittason, an American mom who lived in Germany as an exchange student, makes a point of having her son and daughter, 11 and 8, walk to school on their own, even though such behavior is unusual in their hometown of Lynchburg, VA. Christian Dierig, originally from Wolfsburg, Germany, lets his kids, also 11 and 8, ride their bikes to school in Jersey City, NJ. Because of the "crazy drivers" he has them ride on the sidewalk, and he started the process gently, biking alongside them until they were comfortable enough to go by themselves.
    Allow for unstructured, “hang out” time (with no electronic devices!) and don’t worry that your kids will get bored. “Let them be bored!” Zaske says: “Boredom is important — that’s when kids get creative and discover what they want to do.” In Berlin, her daughter Sophia’s kindergarten even removed all the toys from the classroom for three months, to force the children to rely on their imaginations. While that’s probably too radical for the U.S., you can still resist the peer pressure to constantly keep your kids occupied, Sittason argues: “If kids are always being told what to do, they’ll never learn how to be independent.” Boredom is important — that’s when kids get creative and discover what they want to do. Tine Pahl, PhD, agrees. A developmental psychologist and practicing psychoanalyst who's originally from Berlin and also lives in Jersey City, Pahl observes that many of her young adult patients suffer because of the "overparenting" they experienced as children. "You see the fallout from it when they grow up," she says. "A Iot of young people struggle to cope with adult tasks." (Pahl herself has fostered Selbständigkeit in her son Ludwig, 11, by leaving him at home alone for short periods of time since he was about 8.)
    To be able to finish up this article, I had to cultivate some instant Selbständigkeit in my daughter, Daphne, 10. An only child, she’s used to monopolizing my attention. "Why can't you stop writing and take me out for pizza?" she asked for the fourth or fifth time. So I resorted to a little old-fashioned pre-emptive remuneration (also known as bribery). "If you can figure out how to order a pizza for delivery without my help," I told her, "you can also order a Coke for yourself." It worked like a charm.
    Family is fundamentally important to most Germans. People often identify its main source of value being the unique personal relationship one has with each family member and the support they receive from one another. For many Germans, the family home provides a place where an individual’s eccentricity can be fully revealed. Parents and relatives are expected to help foster a person’s aspirations to help them reach their full potential. However, Germans are also generally encouraged to be self-reliant throughout childhood so that they are prepared to be independent as adults. Most children move out of their parents’ home when they go to university or as soon as they are in a financial position to do so. Most German households are quite small, consisting of the nuclear family alone (mother, father and their children). The extended family generally lives separately. This family form (with children living at home being under 18 years of age) continues to be the most common family structure. However, many different living situations and family forms are gaining popularity in Germany as traditional ideas about family structures are challenged. It is now becoming common for couples to choose not to have children or for parents of children to decide not to get married and remain in de facto relationships. Furthermore, there is growing acceptance for families incorporating LGBTQI+ relationships. Many people are also choosing to live alone, particularly in Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen and Saxony.
    The man is the traditional head of the family; however, this hierarchy has evolved. Gender does not dictate a person’s role or duty to the family as it used to. Women enjoy equal rights and the opportunity to choose their form of contribution to the household dynamic. They also generally share the decision-making power in the household. The average age for women to give birth is 29.4 years old as many are choosing to establish themselves professionally in their 20s before starting a family.1 However, once children are born, a German mother is statistically more likely to stay at home and forfeit her career than a German father. Families in East Germany tend to use child care facilities much more than those in the West. This practice began during the ??? era, when women were required to be employed full-time. This preference has prevailed, with more women in the West choosing to be stay-at-home mothers than those in the East.
    Dating practices in Germany are similar to those throughout the English-speaking West. During high school, teenagers will begin to socialise with peers from school or those living in the same neighbourhood. Some couples may meet through social activities at their local sports club or church. Couples usually live together for months or years before they get married. Some may choose not to marry and remain de facto couples. Most Germans marry for the first time in their late 20s. Marriages are legally established through a civil ceremony at the registry office. Religious ceremonies are optional. Traditionally, a man would ask a woman’s father for permission to marry her. Though this is no longer necessary, many Germans continue to do so out of respect.
    https://culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/german-culture/german-culture-core-concepts#german-culture-core-concepts German Culture Core Concepts Greetings Religion Family Naming Dates of Significance Etiquette Do's and Don'ts Communication Other Considerations Business Culture Germans in Australia
    Germans are definitely rule followers. For example, they will wait on a completely empty street for the signal to change before they cross the street! There are lots of rules for everything and they are not afraid to correct or stare down anyone who isn’t following them.
    I love the approach to childhood here! Parents have a more relaxed and less worried attitude and I feel encouraged to let my kids take risks and be more independent. There is a lot of emphasis on kids playing outside: at school, my daughters have outdoor recess regardless of weather (and I mean it! 17 degrees and snowing? They’re outside!).
    My older daughter’s kindergarten class has a forest day once a week, where they spend the day in the woods, playing in the creek, building with sticks, and looking for bugs. There is also absolutely no pressure on academics in German schools prior to first grade. I love that they are getting the freedom to just be kids.
    Although it is not compulsory for them to attend, by law all children aged between one and five years are entitled to a place at a daycare facility. Despite efforts to increase availability, however, there are still not enough places to keep up with demand. It is worth registering your child as soon as possible to secure a place. Early years childcare is provided by a mixture of organisations such as churches, welfare associations, local authorities and parent associations. As with all types of schools in Germany, some are publicly-funded, while others will charge fees.
    Compulsory schooling starts in Germany on August 1 after a child’s sixth birthday, although it may be possible for your child to start midway through the school year. Primary school in Germany has four grades (six in Berlin and Brandenburg), known as Klassen. Children attend primary school until the age of 10 or 12 and gradually acquire key competencies including reading, writing and arithmetic. All pupils will also begin to learn a foreign language (usually English or French) in grade 3; in six federal states, this starts at grade 1. Children usually attend their local primary school, although in North-Rhine Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein parents are free to enrol their child in any primary school.
    Upon entering secondary education at age 10 (or 12), students are split into three different streams, which offer different qualifications and pathways to higher education (either academic or vocational). In principle, it is possible to move between streams, so that all students can attain any kind of qualification. Your child’s teacher will advise you as to which stream would be most suitable. In most federal states, however, the final decision rests with the parents.
    General secondary school (Hauptschule) The Hauptschule provides students with a basic general education, geared towards completing a vocational qualification. Pupils usually attend for five years (grades 5-9) and graduate with a qualification known as the Erster allgemeinbildender Schulabschluss or Hauptschulabschluss, which is needed for admission into upper secondary education and training in either the “dual system” or a Berufsfachschule (see below). Students also have the opportunity to stay on for an extra year, and receive the Mittlerer Schulabschluss (Realschulabschluss) after grade 10, a slightly more advanced qualification that opens more pathways. Students with high grades at Hauptschule level can take an entrance exam in order to be admitted to a Gymnasium for their upper secondary education (grades 11 to 13).
    Secondary school (Realschule) Also leading towards vocational qualifications, the Realschule provides pupils with a more extensive general education. After six years (grades 5-10), pupils sit exams for their Realschulabschluss. With this qualification, students can complete their upper secondary education at a Gymnasium, if they wish to go to university, or pursue vocational qualifications in the Dual System, a Berufsfachschule or a Fachoberschule (see below).
    Academic secondary school (Gymnasium) Covering grades 5 to 12 (13 in some federal states), Gymnasien provide the most intensified general education in Germany. At the age of 18 or 19, pupils sit their Allgemeine Hochschulereife (Abitur or Abi) examination, a qualification that grants them a place at either a university (Universität) or a university of applied science (Fachhochschule). Students with high grades at Hauptschule or Realschule level can be admitted to Gymnasien to complete grades 11-13.
    Schools offering multiple qualifications (Gesamtschulen) In the face of criticism of the purported divisions it creates, some federal states have abolished the streamed school system in favour of schools that combine two or three different models to offer multiple kinds of qualifications. These types of schools are referred to by a vast array of different regional terms, including “Mittelschule”, “Regelschule” and “Sekundarschule” (for schools that combine Hauptschule and Realschule) and “Integrierte Gesamtschule”, “Oberschule”, “Stadtteilschule” and “Gemeinschaftschule” (for schools that combine all three models).
    Vocational upper secondary education (Berufschulen) Providing an alternative to the academic instruction given at the upper secondary level in Gymnasien, there are several institutions in the German school system that offer apprenticeships, vocational education and on-the-job training for pupils in grades 10-13:
    Dual system (Duales System) The “dual system” is a term used to refer to a system of training that lasts two, three or three and a half years, combining vocational education and training. Students divide their time between doing an apprenticeship at a workplace and studying at a vocational school (Berufsschule). Although there are no formal prerequisites for admission, around a quarter of pupils have a Hauptschulabschluss and half have a Realschulabschluss.
    Technical college (Berufsfachschule) At a Berufsfachschule, students are introduced to one or several occupations over the course of one to three years. At the same time, they undertake part-time vocational education and training, which can lead to a qualification in a specific occupation.
    Technical upper secondary school (Fachoberschule) The Fachoberschule covers grades 11 and 12 and requires a pupil to have a Realschulabschluss. Students are equipped with general and specialised theoretical and practical knowledge and skills, leading to a qualification called a Fachhochschulreife, which guarantees entrance to all universities of applied science (Fachhochschulen) and to some universities (Universitäten).
    Vocational Gymnasium (Berufliches Gymnasium) Alongside the general education provided at the Gymnasium, this specialised three-year course of education also provides career-orientated instruction. Like regular Gymnasium pupils, students graduate with an Abitur qualification.
    Upper vocational school (Berufsoberschule) Some German states also have Berufsoberschulen, specialised vocational schools which enable anyone with a Realschulabschluss to gain the necessary qualifications to enter higher education.
    Traditionally, the German school day has started at 8:00 a.m. and finished at 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. – and that is often still the case. But in recent years, some schools in Germany have started offering a full day of education (Ganztagsschule). They offer study hours for homework, extracurricular activities and a hot lunch at the cafeteria. Since most German schools never had a cafeteria, this often requires new construction to provide them.
    Print Friendly, PDF & Email From Kita to Uni The education system in Germany varies from state to state, although the basic K-12 system is fairly uniform. As in the US, education is the responsibility of each of the 16 German states (Bundesländer), but there is a national conference of state education ministers (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) that serves to coordinate educational practices at the national level. However, there is still some variation in the school systems across Germany. (Also see: Education in Germany.) School trip Secondary school students in Berlin on a field trip to the former Hohenschönhausen Stasi (secret police) prison and interrogation center in Berlin. PHOTO: Hyde Flippo Jump to | Preschool | Elementary Schools | Secondary Schools | Special Education | Higher Education | Expat Options/International Schools General Overview Compared to the United States, the German primary and secondary school system is a rather complicated one in which there are sometimes as many as five different kinds of secondary schools (usually starting at grade 5) and various paths leading to academic higher education, advanced technical training or a trade. For more about the types of schools in Germany see below. In addition to Germany’s extensive public school system, there are also some private and parochial schools, but far fewer than in the US and most other countries. Among the private schools, Montessori, Waldorf, Jena and other alternative education models are popular. But in all of Germany, a country of 82 million people, there are only about 2,500 private and parochial schools, including boarding schools (Internate). There are also a good number of international schools all across Germany, which can be a good option for English-speaking expats. (See more about international schools below.) Compulsory School Attendance Part of the reason for the dearth of private or church schools is the German conviction that public education is a vital element that contributes to a well-educated citizenry and a sense of common purpose. Germany has a compulsory school attendance law. The law requires school attendance (Schulpflicht), not just instruction, from age 6 until age 15. This helps explain why homeschooling is illegal in Germany. (See “Homeschooling verboten” for more.) The German Educational Class System Although most Germans claim to be against elitism and favoring any social class, their entire educational system is basically a three-class system that divides students into three different tracks: (1) Gymnasium for bright students headed for college, (2) Realschule for the next step down, kids headed for average or better white-collar positions, and (3) Hauptschule for the bottom tier, generally aimed at the trades and blue-collar jobs. By the age of 10 most pupils in Germany have been put on one of these three educational tracks. But it has become easier to switch tracks, and this is now more common in Germany than it used to be. Efforts over the past several decades to reform this system, with its emphasis on tracking, have largely been unsuccessful. Essentially the same tracking system also exists in neighboring Austria and Switzerland, which also have resisted educational reforms. Citizens of the German-speaking countries seem to feel that the current system produces good results – despite a poor showing in recent PISA rankings and other educational studies that indicate German schools don’t always produce the best educated students. The Gesamtschule Reform In some states, usually governed by the SPD (Social ???ic Party), there was an attempt to reform the system by creating a more inclusive kind of secondary school, more like the American high school. Beginning in the late 1960s, the Gesamtschule (comprehensive school) was introduced as an alternative to the traditional three-tiered secondary education system. Instead of three different schools, there are three different tracks within one school. Beginning in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the first Gesamtschulen appeared in West Berlin and a few other Länder, but soon there was resistance from the conservative CDU (Christian ???ic Party), teacher unions and parent groups, who felt that the comprehensive school was inferior to the traditional system. Although the original idea was to replace the old three-school system (Gymnasium, Realschule, Hauptschule) with a single secondary school, the Gesamtschule or Einheitsschule, in practice it has not worked out that way. Rather than replacing the three-school system, the Gesamtschule has merely been added to the traditional system. Some Gesamtschulen are also Ganztagsschulen (all-day schools), with a class schedule that runs longer than traditional schools, which usually only have classes until noon or 1:00 p.m. The decade between 1972 and 1982 was supposed to be a trial period to see if the Gesamtschule was superior or not. The verdict was mixed, and the Gesamtschule now only exists in various forms in about ten of the 16 German states. In some German states, including Bavaria, Hamburg, Saxony, Thuringia and others, the Hauptschule and Realschule have been combined to create the Mittelschule (also known as Regelschule or Regionalschule) to create a two-tiered system rather than three. Even in former East Germany, where the “unified school” educated everyone to be good, socialist citizens, the Gesamtschule has not been adopted uniformly. The good old academic Gymnasium has endured in most of Germany to this day. In Austria and Switzerland the Gesamtschule concept has never drawn any real support. Special Education As opposed to the US system of inclusion of students with special needs whenever feasible, Germany also promotes tracking in that area. Förderschulen or Sonderschulen are separate schools for students with moderate to severe learning disabilities, blind or deaf students, or those with physical disabilities. This practice, which puts some 430,000 German students in special, separate schools, has been criticized for not meeting the 2008, EU-ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which calls for a more inclusive, integrated education for disabled students. Critics say that by separating special-needs students from the general population, the German special education system fails, in that it puts disabled students at a disadvantage and prevents their integration into daily life. This is especially true for students with physical disabilities. Only in a few places in Germany are some special-needs students integrated into regular schools. The School Day in Germany Traditionally, the German school day has started at 8:00 a.m. and finished at 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. – and that is often still the case. But in recent years, some schools in Germany have started offering a full day of education (Ganztagsschule). They offer study hours for homework, extracurricular activities and a hot lunch at the cafeteria. Since most German schools never had a cafeteria, this often requires new construction to provide them. Class Schedule German secondary schools have a class schedule that resembles a US college schedule, with different classes offered each day. Some subjects are taught three days per week, with others taught only twice a week. On Monday a typical schedule might offer four 45-minute classes (and sometimes double 90-minute classes) in (1) math, (2) history, (3) art and (4) English, while on Tuesday a student might have five classes: (1) German, (2) religion, (3) calculus, (4) French and (5) PE. There are also break periods, usually a short and a long break (große Pause), during the school day. Most students eat lunch at home, since schools usually have no cafeteria, and the school day ends fairly early. Although there is some physical education, German schools are more academic in nature. Competitive sporting events between schools are rare. Athletics is usually done outside of school by belonging to a sports club. For a long time in many parts of Germany the school week included Saturday. In the 1980s schools in Baden-Württemberg still had classes every other Saturday. In East Germany Saturday was a school day nationwide. Since the early 1990s most German school students, including those in Baden-Württemberg, have enjoyed a full weekend. Only a very few local schools still have Saturday classes (Samstagsunterricht). Now let’s look at the various types of schools in Germany.
    Surprisingly, in the land that invented the kindergarten, preschool education is not part of the public education system. Most preschools or daycare centers for young children in Germany are run by churches or other non-profit organizations. The federal government does provide some funding to the states, but despite new laws that “guarantee” at least half-day childcare for children between the ages of one and three, there are not enough places available. Efforts to increase the availability of childcare have been hindered by a lack of funding, plus a lack of trained staff. Less than a third of three-year-olds in Germany had access to daycare in 2012. The German preschool system varies from state to state, but in general it works this way: Kinderkrippe (literally, “crib” or “crèche”) – For ages eight weeks to three years. Kita (short for Kindertagesstätte (children’s daycare center) – For ages 3-6, open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or later. Kindergarten – For ages 3-6; half-day or full-day kindergarten. Hort or Schulhort – Provides after-school daycare for elementary school pupils. Finding a place for your preschooler can be difficult, since there are also many other parents trying to find a good Kita or kindergarten. The better facilities tend to fill fast, so it is necessary to plan ahead. Finding a place for your child often depends on where you live. Getting your child into a good facility near where you live is considered a wonderful stroke of luck.
    After preschool, German pupils attend primary school (Grundschule, “basic school,” grades 1-4). Compulsory school attendance Schulpflicht starts in September after a child has turned six. All students attend elementary school from grade one to grade four in most states. Before beginning the fifth grade (seventh in Berlin/Brandenburg), students and their parents must choose the type of secondary school they will attend, in other words, which educational track they will be on. The majority of children attend a public elementary school in their neighborhood. As in the US, schools in affluent areas tend to be better than those in less-affluent areas. In bigger cities students “with a migratory background” (as the Germans refer to immigrant Turks and other non-Germans migrants) often lower the quality of education in schools with a high percentage of foreign students. Efforts to combat this inequality have met with limited success.
    After completing their primary education (at 10 years of age, 12 in Berlin and Brandenburg), children attend one of five types of secondary schools in Germany. The five kinds of schools vary from state to state in Germany: Hauptschule (HOWPT-shoo-luh, grades 5-9 or 5-10) The Hauptschule is generally considered the least demanding of the five types of secondary school, but it may be very appropriate for students who wish to enter the trades or go through an apprenticeship for certain types of industrial employment. The Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education, and most of the pupils work part-time as apprentices. Upon completion of the final Hauptschulabschluss examination, after grade 9 or 10. They also have the option of earning the more prestigious Realschulabschluss after grade 10. With that, the next step is often a Berufsschule, an advanced technical/vocational school with a two-year course of apprenticeship and study. Realschule (ray-ALL-shoo-luh, grades 5-10) This is the most popular type of secondary school in Germany. About 40 percent of German pupils attend this kind of school. The Realschule may be a step below the Gymnasium (more below), but it can be a very good school, with academic standards that usually exceed those of a typical high school in the US. For instance, Realschule students must study at least one foreign language (usually English or French) for a minimum of five years. (In Gymnasium a second foreign language is required.) Graduates earn a Realschulabschluss diploma. In some communities a Realschule and a Gymnasium may share the same building, with a common library, and other common facilites. Mittelschule (MIT-tel-shoo-luh, grades 5-10) Only some German states have this type of intermediate school (grades 6-10) that combines the Hauptschule and Realschule tracks. Gymnasium (ghim-NAH-zee-uhm, grades 5-12 or 5-13) The German Gymnasium is an academic secondary school that prepares pupils for a university education. It begins with the fifth grade (seventh in Berlin/Brandenburg). After grade 12 or 13 (depending on the state), students earn a diploma called das Abitur by passing an oral and written examination. The Gymnasium has a long history, dating back to 1528 in Saxony. Traditionally there was a heavy emphasis on the study of Latin and Greek, but modern languages are favored today. Until the 1970s there were separate Gymnasien for boys and girls. Nowadays they are co-ed. The Gymnasium curriculum is highly academic, with two foreign languages required, plus higher math and science courses. Students also have the option of taking more advanced “honors” courses (Leistungskurse). Any student with an “Abi” diploma from a Gymnasium must be admitted to a German university, but there are no guarantees concerning the field of study. Popular fields such a law and medicine are very competitive. Students often have to choose a second or third choice for their major, or have to enroll in a more distant university than they might prefer. Gesamtschule (guh-SAHMT-shoo-luh, grades 5-12 or 5-13) Only some German states have this kind of school, which combines the three school types into a comprehensive school that is similar to an American high school. (See the more detailed information above.) Sportschule Although German public schools tend to be mostly academic, with only some physical education or athletics, there are sports schools in some locations. A Sportschule has academic courses, but puts much more emphasis on a particular sport or range of sports, including swimming, soccer, skiing, and other sports. Prospective students need to apply and demonstrate ability in the sport they want to train for. See Sportschulen: Sports Schools in Germany for more information. Even after parents have decided which school type they prefer, there remains another choice, at least in larger communities. In a typical city of even average size, there may be a choice of five or more Gymnasien or Realschulen in the area. Unlike in the US, students are not zoned to a school in their neighborhood or district. Students and their parents have a choice of any school that will accept the student.
    The Grading System The German grading scale runs from 1 to 6, with one being the best grade (A) and six the worst (F). Poor grades in several subjects can result in a student having to repeat an entire school year. Class Schedule A German class schedule is not the same every day. More like a college schedule, with some classes three times a week, while others are only two days a week. School Days German students attend school for 187-190 days in an academic year, depending on the state. The school year in the US lasts 180 days. German students only get a six-week summer vacation, but they have more frequent vacation breaks during the school year. In recent years, some US school districts have adopted a similar schedule, with more frequent breaks. School Vacation Dates In order to avoid massive traffic jams, German schools in the 16 states have a staggered vacation (Ferien) schedule that rotates each year. One year schools in Berlin may begin their summer vacation in June, while those in Bavaria begin in July. There is even a website where you can find a state-by-state Schulferien guide for the next several years. No Substitute Teachers If a teacher is absent, there is no class that day, or the class is taught by a colleague who has a free period. Substitutes (Ersatzlehrer) are only hired for lengthy absences. School Trips School trips are often more ambitious and more extensive than in the US. A typical English class in Germany might have an annual trip by bus to London with their teachers for a week or ten days, staying in youth hostels. No Hall Passes, No Study Hall If students have a free period, they are free to do whatever they want to during that time. There are usually no study halls (except in a Ganztagsschule) or hall passes. German secondary pupils are not treated like babies. They are expected to be responsible. Klassenlehrer Beginning in the fifth grade in a Gymnasium (seventh for other school types), students are grouped into “homerooms” with a particular teacher Klassenlehrer. They stay together for the rest of their school years. No School Bus Although there may be school buses in some rural areas, in most German cities and towns, pupils bike, walk or use public transportation to get to and from school.


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