“More than just a place for learning” – Pupils explain what is important about the schools they go to
Six children and teenagers from different federal states speak about the strengths and weaknesses of their schools.
The Germans have been arguing for many years about which school system would be the right one for Germany – and in the course of this debate the individual federal states have come up with some very different answers. Should the children go to school for the whole day or half a day? Should primary school pupils be schooled in one class for four, as has been the case in most federal states up to now, or perhaps six or maybe even eight years? Should grammar school pupils take their “Abitur” (German qualification for university entrance) after 12 or after 13 years of school? Should all secondary schools become comprehensive schools, in which the pupils can obtain various qualifications depending on their abilities?
There is a whole range of answers to these questions and each federal state seems to have its own answers and models. It is actually becoming more and more difficult to speak of “the” German school system. On the other hand, however, children and teenagers have their own ideas about the place they have to spend most of their daily life. Read on to find out what six German schoolchildren think about their schools.
Jonas Möller, 8 years old, Hillesheim Primary School in the state of Rheinland-Palatinate
Arabesk (Arabesque) or Es muss auch kleine Riesen geben (We Need Small Giants, Too). I like it because it calms us down and helps us to relax. What I do not like about my school is all the squabbling and fighting. It is also a shame that the lunch break from the third year onwards is very short and there is not enough time to wind down. When I leave my primary school, I want to go to the Realschule (school preparing students for apprenticeships and vocational qualifications) - and later I want to be a policeman, because they have to do a lot of exciting things and always do sport. For that I am going to need really good qualifications.
Leonard Günther, 13 years old, Elisabeth-Selbert Comprehensive School in Bonn Bad-Godesberg
Everybody gets the same chances at a comprehensive school, provided he or she wants to learn. There are in my opinion no drawbacks to the system of going to school for the whole day. It just means you learn more in school than at home. On top of that there is no written homework on the three long days in the week. One of the main plus points is the wide range of clubs, groups and other free-time activities. One good example of this would be our school band, “Brass Rock”, that has made quite a name for itself in Bonn. One of the bad things about my school is the fact that the school café and canteen are so overcrowded. At lunchtime there are so many people standing in line at the canteen that many pupils have decided to bring their own food from home.
Malin Steinbach and Alexander Källner, both 14 years old, Poppenbüttel District School in Hamburg
Alexander Källner: For me the annual Job Information Day is important. It is when certain companies or the police come along and talk about the work they do, so that the pupils get an idea about what they might later want to do or in which sector they might want to do a placement. I also think it is a good thing that all the various qualifications that the children have either gained or will gain are also discussed. I would however also appreciate parents explaining their jobs to the kids in more detail, so that they can hear about what the “real” working world is like. Furthermore the spectrum of the jobs and professions presented could also be much broader.
Lena Katczinski, 16 years old, Geschwister Scholl Realschule in Gütersloh
Rebekka Deuse, 19 years old, Essen-Werden Grammar School
The special thing about my grammar school is that it has so much to offer. By promoting and supporting the most varied activities the students are motivated to pursue their interests and at times to venture down more unusual paths. Our dance department, for example, has its own building, housing its own boarding school for dance and offering the possibility to take dance as a subject at Abitur level. A further emphasis is on access to music. Sport and art are equally as promoted as all the various clubs that encourage individual interests. The atmosphere is very open and relaxed and I really like my school’s location - between the banks of the river Ruhr and Werden’s old, historical quarter. Nevertheless, for myself, I would like a little more variety, as many of my classmates all come from the same social background. I want to use my training at school to enable me to go abroad and study at a foreign university. Before that however I am planning to take a gap year doing voluntary work in the social sector.
works as a free-lance journalist for, among others, “WDR.de” and “Spiegel Online” in Bonn.
Translation: Paul McCarthy
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
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