Today we went into one of the gymnasium schools. (remember? The school that is considered the highest education system out of the four schools students can attend after primary/grade school).
The group was split up into smaller groups, 1-2 people each, and sent into different levels of English classes in the school.
First I went to the 6th grade English class. The teacher told the students good morning and the students sang it back. It reminded me of Annie, “Good morning Mrs. Hannegan.” It's just something we do not see in the United States ever! I was so impressed!
The teacher taught part of his lesson and then got myself and the other study abroad student Anthony involved. I taught a small lesson out of the book, but I had to remind myself to talk very, very slowly. I did an exercise with the students asking them about a story they read, and matching up pictures. I think it went really well, and the English teacher told me I had a knack for teaching and that I will be a very good teacher! It made me smile inside.
The second class we went to, was a 10th grade class. The teacher is actually a student teacher. In Germany, you have two years of student teaching. The first year you are in the classroom with a certified teacher, and the second year you have the class all to yourself. She was in her second year of teaching, and was absolutely amazing and friendly. She let us know that we were going to answer questions that the students have, and then whenever we were done we could work on a lesson with the students. Long story short, we talked for the 90 minute class period, and then the students wanted to stay longer so we could ask them questions about their school and life. So they actually stayed 5 minutes past their lunch period started to talk to us!
They asked so many questions, things about Obama, Osama, the oil spill, Prom (they do not have prom), Spring break (we had to explain that it is not all glory...), the school cliques (yes cheerleaders are usually just exactly as you see them in the movies), our school system including tracking, and so many other subjects... I just cannot remember them all. They seemed so interested and really wanting to get all the information they could get out of us.
Towards the end of the period, I asked if I could ask them a few questions about their school and life. My first question “Do you think you are better than the students in the Hauptschule, or Realschule” (the lower schools in the schooling system).
The main answer I got was “yes”. I received so many answers, but they all leaned the same direction. “We are better than them, we are smarter, and more clever. We are proud because we get to go to the University. We can get better jobs, we act better, we are more musical. It is hard to speak to students from the Hauptschule and Reaschule because they do not know as much as us, and the conversations are difficult because they can't understand us. We are scientific, and we take Chemistry and Biology.”
I turned it around and asked them what the students in the lower schools are good at. They stared at the walls and ceiling for a while, but then started talking. “They are good at sewing, woodworking, engineering, cooking, and they are better at hands on things. They speak more languages, but they do not have the same classes as we do.” So I asked them one last question.
“So when I go to the Hauptschule and Realschule, what will the students say about you?”
Silence for a little bit.
“That we are spoiled and stuck up. That we think we are better than them. That we are mean.”
“Was it their decision to be in the lower schools, or do you think they would have wanted to be in the Gymnasium?”
“Their test grades in fourth grade determined which school they go to”
“So if they were bad test takers, and they didnt do as well as they had hoped, does that mean you should treat them badly for the rest of their life, or do they deserve better than that?”
“Well... they deserve better.”
I feel I made some sort of difference. I could see their minds turning and I was excited to see that they actually were thinking about it!
We then attended a 9th grade class. The students did not seem interested in what we were teaching, or talking about. Which makes sense for the grade they are in. :)
After we left the schools, the girls went shopping, and I bought a shawl! My mother is either going to be proud or upset that I spent money on shawls. It was only 7 Euro Mom! Don't get mad!
Dinner was my first Weiner Schnitzel. Delicious. So so so so good. I love German food.
We also hung out with a German youth group before dark, and they did a bunch of relay races type stuff. I just relaxed in the grass because I messed up my knee a few weeks ago. I needed a rest after all the walking!
It's been a long day, and I am so exhausted. I plan on passing out pretty soon. It is almost 4 pm in Illinois. Here it is almost 11pm! We are observing in a grade school tomorrow. I think it will be interesting to see if the students know any English.... They won't. It will be interesting!
When I am not so tired I am going to explain about the folklore behind pretzels!
- Illinois, United States
- I am a band director at five private schools in Kankakee. Music is a big part of my life, but knitting and crafting are right up there too. I own a ridiculous stash of yarn, which I am slowly using... and replacing with better yarn... I tend to knit and crochet a lot, in class, out of class, while watching tv, while driving, pretty much constantly. I have been involved with crochet romantically for 15 years, and involved with knitting for 11 years. They sometimes get jealous of each other. I think its funny. Along with knitting and crocheting, I quilt, spin (drop spindle) and design patterns!!