Gymnasium vs Gemeinschaftsschule

15 posts in this topic

Our 10yr old child here in SH is in 4th (and last) year in Grundschule. Next year she must be in secondary.

I know here in Germany school is state dependent. Here in SH after Grundschule there is either Gymnasium or Gemeinschaftsschule (I'm ignoring private schools, extremely few people go there).
The Grundschule gives an Empfehlung on whether the child is fit for Gymnasium or not. According to the old cliché, pupils that are "better" students are encouraged to go to Gymnasium, and viceversa. 
I visited either type of school and I became convinced of the old stereotype: Gemeinschaftsschule are best suited if a child is not very much into learning, and if the parents do not value education very much. Gymnasium exactly the opposite. I could be wrong, but after some visits I got this impression, extremely strong and clear.
This is also what my German colleagues tell me. The Grundschule made a big effort trying to convince us this is not really so, is not that one route is less good, it's just a "different" route, so they say.
Whatever the Grundschule recommend, the parents have the last say. But if a child goes to Gymnasium and within the first 2yr cannot do sufficiently well, he's forced to move to Gemeinschaftsschule. Only to avoid the risk of a forced "school downgrade", some parents that would prefer gymnasium send the child to Gemeinschaftsschule straight away.
 
Our child unfortunately got Empfehlung für Gemeinschaftsschule. Not really surprised: her attitude regarding school stuff is: "whatever takes least of my time and effort, and leave me most time for playing and chill out". Sad but true. We are trying our best but things are what they are.
Despite the Empfehlung for Gemeinschaftsschule, we will apply for gymnasium. Of course the risk that within the first years she underperforms and she is forced to "downgrade" is there.
 
Just for the sake of discussion, can any of you with some real knowledge comment on Gymnasium vs Gemeinschaftsschule?
 
Thanks,
 
 
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What about giving Gemeinschaftsschule a try and see how it works? You can still change to Gymnasium after grade 5. At least that´s what I did more than half a century ago (and in Bavaria though). You´d risk "wasting" a year but does it matter?

When we retunred from abroad to Gerrmany my daugher went to the Bavarian equivalent of Gemeinschaftsschule. After that she was offered going to the "Einführungsklasse" of the Gymnasium in grade 10 which is specifically for kids from lower tier schools to give them a chance to close the gaps. It also meant "wasting" a year - but who cares? She graduated with Abitur.

 

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Okay, so you have a child which enjoys "chilling and playing" rather than learning. Why on earth would you want to send this child to Gymnasium?

 

Whilst it might well be the case that the OP give a very high value to education, he will not be able to force his child to learn and to get good grades if she has no interest in it herself.

 

Whilst many kids in Germany go on to study, it is not the only way to get a good start in life and end up doing a job you enjoy.

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I agree with robinson. I have 3 children and, although only 1 went to Gymnasium, all 3 did their Abitur and are now in jobs they enjoy.

It’s often parents who tell you that your children need to go to Gymnasium, there is a bit of a snobbish attitude to it in some areas.  You need to decide what you want and what your child is capable of. If you feel she’s not ready, then let her try the Gemeinschaftsschule. There are always choices for them along the way to get to where they want or need to be.

 

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Where are her friends going? If her friends are going to gymnasium it might motivate her to study harder so she can stay there. If not, she might be motivated to flunk out ASAP so she can join her friends at the other school.

 

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Gambatte, your post is a very clear example of what goes wrong.

 

On 12.2.2020, 21:40:35, Gambatte said:

Gemeinschaftsschule are best suited if a child is not very much into learning. Gymnasium exactly the opposite

 

On 12.2.2020, 21:40:35, Gambatte said:

 is not that one route is less good, it's just a "different" route, so they say.

 

These two statements are true - there are huge differences between the types of school, and the routes are not 'better' or 'worse', but different. That's the whole point.

 

On 12.2.2020, 21:40:35, Gambatte said:

The Grundschule made a big effort trying to convince us this is not really so,

They are trying to get pushy annoying German parents who quite literally do not care about their child's individual needs, to understand that the extreme academic and independent environment of Gymnasium is not suitable for not-academically interested kids. The other schools are more tailored to kids whose interests are more practical, more business oriented etc. 

 

People get their knickers in an awful twist about this stage of education, and how wrong it is that kids are separated out at such an early age etc. etc. but the truth is that the German system is hugely flexible, in that there will be stages at which kids get the chance to go up or down both classes and school types, and also gain the same qualification at an entirely different school. 

 

On 12.2.2020, 21:40:35, Gambatte said:

Our child unfortunately got Empfehlung für Gemeinschaftsschule. Not really surprised: her attitude regarding school stuff is: "whatever takes least of my time and effort, and leave me most time for playing and chill out".

 

I would have said that the Empfehlung is fortunate because she would hate Gymnasium and be better off at the other school. Why do you see it as unfortunate? Children are not adults-in-the-making, they are actual people, with preferences and opinions, and she and her teachers are in agreement about what kind of student she is. 

 

LeonG's point is on target - if she really cares and wants to stay with a group of friends who are going to the Gymnasium, she will pull her finger out and work hard - do they get a second Empfehlung in the summer, or is that it? My kid#4 had a not-Gymnasium Empfehling at the half year, decided that he did want to join his sister at her school and join a Bläserklasse, and made more effort accordingly and got the Gymnasial Empfehlung in the summer. He doesn't work especially hard, but he keeps up in the middle, plays in the Orchestra and is Klassensprecher, so is a successful student in a way.  If she has that chance and takes it, then great. 

 

Nowhere in your post is there a mention of her preference. This is a big deal, since she is the one who is going to have to go every day.

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Well in our case I am still happy kid 1 went to Gymnasium. Around mid term grade 6 something in brain went click and since then kid is showing that being in Gymnasium was the right decision. Sometimes we have fights about amount of learning needed but kid feels that even there in Gymnasium sometimes other pupils are slowing down class unnecessary. Any other school would have made kid unhappy kid thinks now. But in 4rth grade teachers were all over the place telling us Gymnasium for that kid not the best way to go. 

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6 hours ago, Wherearewegoingto said:

But in 4rth grade teachers were all over the place telling us Gymnasium for that kid not the best way to go. 

That´s because you don´t know if and when the click moment will come. In my case it took until grade 10. Up to then I hated going to school and often had stomach pain from fear of it.

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My daughter's friend was in a similar situation.  At the end of the 4th class at Grundschule, he was generally not interested in learning though his teacher recognized that he was intelligent yet lazy so recommended Gymnasium nontheless. This was based on the fact that the Gymnasium in question had changed from G8 to G9.  G9 generally considered less pressure.

 

After passing the Gymnasium entrance exam, the first year wasn't very easy for him. He's now in the Oberstufe and very happy that he and his parents chose that route.  His opinion is that he was motivated to achieve rather than coast his way through Gesamtschule.  Nachhilfe is a very important factor if parents cannot assist with school work.  Schools often offer help from older pupils.  

 

What are your daughter's opinions on each specific school? As mentioned before, friends are an important factor too. Does the Gymnasium allow kids to resit a year? As mentioned in several threads, this isn't in the least shameful and can be a big benefit.  Changing from Gemeinschaftschule up to Gymnasium later on is probably much harder than vice versa. 

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15 hours ago, kiplette said:

People get their knickers in an awful twist about this stage of education, and how wrong it is that kids are separated out at such an early age etc. etc.

 

Because it really is counterproductive. Not everyone is suited for the same things, and streaming in and of itself is not wrong, but it happens way to early in Germany. You cannot predict the entire lifetime potential of a child at 10 years old, especially when you reinforce it with 'well, you're kinda lazy and like to chill, so that's that'.

 

The German system of streaming is a prime example of expectancy effects, a very real psychological phenomenon.

 

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but the truth is that the German system is hugely flexible, in that there will be stages at which kids get the chance to go up or down both classes and school types, and also gain the same qualification at an entirely different school. 

 

In principle, but in practice is a different story. Once you're on a set path, it is often very difficult to leave it. Not to mention bullying and the social/hierarchical nonsense that can come along with switching. 

 

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I would have said that the Empfehlung is fortunate because she would hate Gymnasium and be better off at the other school. Why do you see it as unfortunate? Children are not adults-in-the-making, they are actual people, with preferences and opinions, and she and her teachers are in agreement about what kind of student she is. 

 

I sure as hell wouldn't trust your average German school teacher to decide fates (not that parents are very reasonable either). Low expectations produce low results. Sure, not everyone will thrive in with the 'academic' profile of Gymnasium (putting aside Germany's cram and rote style learning and pathetic PISA scores for an OECD country), but if you give low expectations, you get low results. 

 

Had I grown up in Germany, I would almost certainly have been sent to Realschule. My early school years, I didn't care about homework and my grades showed it. I and my closest peers were working class shitheads, and it was very clear that teachers never thought much of us. If it wasn't the obvious dismissiveness, it was probably the being literally called stupid. Actually, I learned to read by 5 or so, and I was reading 'adult' sci-fi novels (i.e. not kids fiction) at 7 years old. If I liked a subject I would read about it for hours. I had encyclopedia sets I read cover to cover. I can recall thinking many times 'I know more than the teacher on this subject', and perhaps there was some child cockiness, but I know for some subjects it was really true. I never studied, but I had a good memory and could pass tests without much trying. 

 

It was only when I went to highschool, grade 9, aged 13/14, that I realized I need to put in more effort if I want to go to university (which I vaguely did, my parents expectations also played a role). I think if they had shrugged and said 'Well, yea, you are a lazy low-potential bum' and pushed me into the non-uni stream, I would have eventually resented them. Anyway, once it clicked, I generally did all my homework, readings, made extensive notes, studied with others, etc. and I started to get good grades, sometimes the top or among the top in the class. Eventually I went to university and have a Masters too. (I've applied for PhD programs in the past, but weighing costs/time and what they're likely to do for me (not too much apart from titles) has led me away from that path. But I work with a lot of PhDs now, and I don't think the title is that impressive as I once did. A doctoral degree is a badge of dedication to minutiae, not intelligence per se).

 

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LeonG's point is on target - if she really cares and wants to stay with a group of friends who are going to the Gymnasium, she will pull her finger out and work hard - do they get a second Empfehlung in the summer, or is that it? My kid#4 had a not-Gymnasium Empfehling at the half year, decided that he did want to join his sister at her school and join a Bläserklasse, and made more effort accordingly and got the Gymnasial Empfehlung in the summer. He doesn't work especially hard, but he keeps up in the middle, plays in the Orchestra and is Klassensprecher, so is a successful student in a way.  If she has that chance and takes it, then great. 

 

Nowhere in your post is there a mention of her preference. This is a big deal, since she is the one who is going to have to go every day.

 

This is of course important too, children deserve some credit for knowing what they want. But I still think they need to be pushed/steered a little.

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I can understand that the parents would prefer see their child as a "Busy bee" with only good grades. But parents have to accept their child and do you think your child would be happy with extreme pressure to perform, how it is common on the Gymnasium? Maybe it would be happier to be surrounded by other kids having the same attitude regarding learning. And you have to keep in mind that it's very difficult for some children to change school, making new friends, new teachers... so maybe it's better to decide for the right way directly, also if it's difficult. And the prejudice that kids from the Gemeinschaftsschule have worse chances in the future in my eyes it's obsolete, they can also study what they want and they can also get a good job. And what about Realschule, isn't it an option?

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On 14.2.2020, 16:00:53, alderhill said:

In principle, but in practice is a different story. Once you're on a set path, it is often very difficult to leave it. Not to mention bullying and the social/hierarchical nonsense that can come along with switching.

 

No, no, in practice. Following actual experience of this actual system as seen through our own kids, and their peers, in 3 different types of school.

 

That is why I am saying it. We have seen it in action, lived it if you will, and seen some of the hopeless Hauptschuler in our son's class of  reprobates went on to do their Allgemeine Abitur, others picked up great apprenticeships in really interesting fields, etc etc. and others are working at MaccyDs. Presumably some are doing nothing at all.

 

We can all bang on about our own personal childhood stories of other school systems. Not relevant to schooling here.

 

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On 14.2.2020, 16:00:53, alderhill said:

Had I grown up in Germany, I would almost certainly have been sent to Realschule. My early school years, I didn't care about homework and my grades showed it.

 

Had I grown up in Germany, I would have probably ended up in a Hauptschule because I belong to a visible minority and have parents who were not university educated.

 

36 minutes ago, kiplette said:

That is why I am saying it. We have seen it in action, lived it if you will, and seen some of the hopeless Hauptschuler in our son's class of  reprobates went on to do their Allgemeine Abitur, others picked up great apprenticeships in really interesting fields, etc etc. and others are working at MaccyDs. Presumably some are doing nothing at all.

 

The problem is that an ever increasing number of employers are not even considering Hauptschüler for certain apprenticeships (for example KFZ-Mechaniker) because they lack the necessary mathematical and computer skills for modern trade schools.

 

Furthermore, despite the increasing number of vacant apprenticeship positions there are many foreign Hauptschüler who can't find an apprenticeship.

 

Although this article is already over 4 years old, the trend seems to be continuing:

 

http://www.migazin.de/2015/12/01/studie-auslaendische-hauptschueler-chance-ausbildungsplatz/ 

 

Although I agree that a child who is not interested in studying shouldn't be forced to go to a Gymnasium, the Gemeinschule has its own drawbacks.

 

@Gambatte

 

Do the Gemeinschule in your area have enough teachers? Are the student to teacher ratios low enough to ensure that students receive the individual attention required for the concept to work?

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33 minutes ago, engelchen said:

Do the Gemeinschule in your area have enough teachers? Are the student to teacher ratios low enough to ensure that students receive the individual attention required for the concept to work?

 

This is really crucial. We had only 15 or 16 kids in a class until the year our kid started, and they had too many and the numbers went up to over 20, which is a lot for that Schulform.

 

About apprenticeships - lots of the kids stayed for Klasse 10 and got their Einfaches Realschulabschluss, which looks to be the plan with the Gemeinschaftschule too. The stats for the school were pretty good in terms of finding places for the kids to go on to - massive efforts went into careers, whereas the Gymnasiums we have used are really not so forward with that side of things.

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