Grundschule - seems to be pot luck

8 posts in this topic

Hi All,

 

I thought I should share our experiences so far. We have two daughters, aged 6 and 9, in the local Grundschule - in a smallish town south of Dortmund. We had a choice of two in the immediate area, and this one was casually recommended by adults in our neighbourhood. We moved here in December last year, after spending 2 months in Essen. (We moved to Germany in October last year.)

 

We didn't have any of the "angst" issues often raised on this forum, as we know from our Heimatland (Australia) that people tend to fit in with some adjustment; and kids especially are brilliant at picking up new languages and moving forward with new friendships. This confidence has proven well founded: our daughters, especially the 9 yr old, are already excellent at communicating in German. As expected, but brilliant! And they have new friends.

 

However, the shock that I want to share - and it is a shock - are two key problems that we have experienced that are really quite serious in nature.

Firstly, on one occasion, we had to visit the school and meet with the Principal and relevant "teacher" to remind them that any modern country should be providing a safe and respectful (not to mention stimulating) environment for the children. I had to do so because my eldest daughter had been physically hurt on more than one occasion in "sport" by clear acts of bullying and the like. Now, this daughter has graded twice already in jiu jitsu in Australia, so she is no "softie". However, one or two students were throwing balls at her head and her stomach when she wasn't looking - with the clear intention to hurt her. This happened for two weeks in a row. The teacher's response to her crying while being winded, or knocked almost senseless, was to tell her to "toughen up". So of course, I went to the school to tell them to "shape up". The Principal was shocked and reprimanded the useless, lazy sod they call a "teacher",  and assured me that things would change. In finishing this topic, I must add that generally the "new method" of teaching sees kids running amok and practising being outright little brats and bullies. German friends in the neighbourhood, lament this post-unification experiment in stupidity.

 

The other problem which has us still perplexed, is that our kids are not taught anything, with the exception of learning German. The maths classes are pathetic - to the point of boredom for both our kids. And the large part of the school "day" - which generally last for only 3 hours!!! - is often spent doing nothing! The teachers literally tell them to sit in the room and colour-in and draw, or play computer games. On one occasion my 6 yr old spent an hour wandering the school grounds because there was nothing obvious to do. In other words, her teacher was Missing In Action. 

This has been an astounding experience in how pathetically lazy, inept and negligent a school system can be!! Quite how these children will complete Gymnasium and enter University is beyond my comprehension! I l know my children will do so - as I will not tolerate one more semester of this nonsense in the heart of the European Union. 

 

Anyway, as this school year closes, I thought that I should mention this experience. It seems that one can find utter negligence even within shouting distance of a major city - albeit a relatively rundown major city. We had our eldest daughter in a Grundschule in Essen for a few weeks before we moved over this way - and that school was excellent.

 

So my message is that even within a short period of time, we have found a marked variance in the quality and professionalism of the Grundschule system.

 

To sum up, I will quote part of a short conversation between my youngest daughter and her mum today:

Daughter: Mum, I want to go back to school in Australia.

Mum: Why's that, honey?

Daughter: Cos I want to learn things again.

 

Needless to say, I am angry and disappointed at this school's utter ineptitude.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, peterLP said:

 clear acts of bullying and the like.

 

Has been known to happen.

 

12 minutes ago, peterLP said:

 

kids are not taught anything, with the exception of learning German. The maths classes are pathetic - to the point of boredom for both our kids. And the large part of the school "day" - which generally last for only 3 hours!!! - is often spent doing nothing!

 

 

 

What are the kids learning at that age in Australia? I remember in the UK we were already expected  to read and write OK. This seems about normal for Germany, though, they certainly don't rush anything!

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My son has just finished Grundschule here in Berlin.

 

I can't really speak about how to improve bullying - unfortunately a fair degree of brutality and laissez faire seems to be the norm here...

 

But educationally I can say that the first year was okay, although the reaching of reading and writing seemed a little slower than I would have expected.

The second and third years, however, they learnt almost nothing in mathematics and absolutely nothing at all in German (same teacher 'taught' both subjects). German was truly nothing - the workbook was untouched at the end of the school year.

 

Then for 4th, 5th and 6th grades he had teachers for German, English, science, and mathematics who were astoundingly, wonderfully good. I wish I had had teachers like them when I was in school! 

 

So, same school, different teachers, and the whole experience was completely different.

 

In the second and third grades, when I saw that nothing was being taught, I stepped in and ensured that my son learnt it at home from me (bought extra copies of the text books, which I kept at home). Theoretically, of course, it was not my job. However, I saw it as: did I want to be 'morally' right - i.e. insist that the material should be taught by the school? Because that was not going to happen. Or did I want my child to know the material no matter where or how it was learnt, so that he had a firm grounding of the basics?

 

On German maths textbooks. In Berlin, at least, things were pretty straightforward. The textbook(s) for each year contain all the materials that should be covered in that year. Pages that explained basic concepts often explained it in several different ways, so that you could look at all of them and decide which way made more sense to you personally. I thought they were pretty good, and definitely way better than the maths textbooks I had growing up.

 

Incidentally, I grew up in Australia too but, judging from your picture, I am probably a fair bit older than you.

When I was in primary school, at that time, there was a fair bit of 'experimenting' on the students with different ways of teaching maths as well as reading and writing. This experimenting meant that I missed out on ALL the basics of maths until fourth grade and didn't really understand many math concepts for years, and my younger brother was taught a nonsensical way of learning to read and write that messed those skills up for him for at least a decade.

It was this experience that made me determined that my child should be able to grasp the basics properly, regardless of what is being done or not being done in school. No matter what outrage you might feel, be aware that it is not just Germany guilty of neglecting the basics at times, and that the most important thing is that your children should not suffer academically as a result.

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OP do you have any recent feedback on the other school in your area? Painful though moving school is, it might be better than staying in a useless one. 

 

We have only seen average to well organised Grundschulen (2 we have used, and the one round the corner used by people we know and also judged top school in Niedersachsen or something) - for us the irritation has come later, so something to look forward to there!

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12 hours ago, peterLP said:

 

 

 

 

I was a bit disappointed with the (extremely good value) "private" school we picked out for the first year, too, but I learned to put it into perspective.

 

I also try to help our kids learn at home so they don't get tooooooo bored by the extremely slow pace (there's also the idea that "it's not FAIR that some kids [appear to] do better than the pack" which is very German).

 

Check out something like Reading Eggs (includes maths!) for a simple home learning package, let me know if you find something better and I'll switch to that (I'm not getting paid for this recommendation, sadly)

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Thanks for the feedback. Yes, we have purchased more books for home learning - maths in particular. The girls read every day - both on their own, and with us listening actively.

We will speak to the school again over the break - to get the best possible outcome in the short term. In the longer term, a year from now, we are moving down Munich way. We will be happy to put this little Ruhrpot school behind us - but will be conducting thorough "interrogations" of schools and their teachers in Bavaria on the issues we have seen here.

@sos-the-rope ...I am very happy NOT to be paying for this school - that would be beyond the pale.

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If you´re plannig to move you might want to try to get a spot in a Montessori school. There you won´t have those problems. Your main plroblem will be to secure a spot so it would be best to apply now already.

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10 hours ago, peterLP said:

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, we have purchased more books for home learning - maths in particular. The girls read every day - both on their own, and with us listening actively.

We will speak to the school again over the break - to get the best possible outcome in the short term. In the longer term, a year from now, we are moving down Munich way. We will be happy to put this little Ruhrpot school behind us - but will be conducting thorough "interrogations" of schools and their teachers in Bavaria on the issues we have seen here.

@sos-the-rope ...I am very happy NOT to be paying for this school - that would be beyond the pale.

 

Unless you are really stretched financially the parents’ contribution is really minimal. Compared to the UK for example, it’s almost negligible. Also bear in mind you ARE paying for schools through your taxes.

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