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Thursday, November 23, 2017

German education system

German educational system is not for the faint of heart.  Andrei is in 4th grade and we have truly loved his teacher and his school but next year he has to go a different school and we are currently in the process of trying to figure out what that school is.  There are several tiers:
  • Hauptschule (main stream minimal education and no future)
  • Realschule (medium level from which you can either transfer to gymnasium oberstufe or get Ausbilding) and
    • Gymnasium oberstufe is the last 2 years of Gymnasium and it can be hard to adjust to the level of work required after Realschule
    • Ausbilding is the education that is required for most hands-on jobs (hairdresser, carpenter,etc.) 
  • Gymnasium (highest level of education).  
  • There are also two types of Gesamtschule.  
    • First type called IGS (Integrative Gesamtschule) seems to be the most similar to American middle/high school where all kids learn together but get separated into 2 levels for subjects such as math and English.  
    • The other type of Gesamtschule is where 3 schools are together yet separate.
This is not an easy choice as your child's future kind of depends on the school you choose.  In reality (for us), the choice is between 2 schools - IGS and gymnasium.  There are pros and cons to both.  Biggest pro and con of the gymnasium is kind of the same thing - it's an extremely challenging environment where a lot of pressure is put on the kids with not a whole lot of support.  IGS, while might at first seem like a good idea, also has pros and cons.  Pros are that all kids are together and at least for now there is no tracking.  Cons is that the kids are all together and there are a lot of social and behavioral problems in the classroom.  Many people advise us against that.

In addition to selecting the type of school we also have to select the actual schools themselves.  Gymnasiums have various tracks - modern languages, ancient languages, humanities, STEM, sport, music ... I am probably missing some.  We are going to have to pick 3 schools and then wait for their answers.

So here we are at crossroads ... I have a meeting setup for next week to meet with Andrei's teacher to see what she thinks.

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