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Referat: Vergleich der Schulsysteme in BRD und USA

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The German School System

Our Student’s Company
Parts of the School System and their function
Grundschule - Elementary school/Grade school
Realschule - Secondary school/ Junior Highschool
Our School Life
General Facts
Laws about Education and School
Our Student’s Company “bb-web”
© 2004, by Jan Dreyer, Bertolt-Brecht-Gymnasium Dresden, Germany
Parts of the school system and their functions

The Kindergarten
The Kindergarten is a German institution, which was overtaken by many other countries. Even the institution’s name “Kindergarten” is used in foreign languages, so it is called kindergarten in the American English. The kindergarten has to support the parents in upbringing the children, who visit the institution at
age 3 to 6. The educational work focuses as well on the development of speech and individuality as on playing and social education. The educators also have to prepare the children for school life. So the children learn some basic rules for the everyday life, they learn little how to count, to write and to read. Usually the children stay there until noon, but there are many kindergartens that take care for them also in the afternoon. That is very helpful for parents who both work. A kindergarten is no national institution, so the attendance is not for free and parents have to pay charges. These charges are cheap enough that everybody is able to pay them and no children are excluded. At the moment 80% of all children at age 3 to 6 attend the kindergarten and the government’s aim for the future is to guarantee every child a place in a kindergarten.

The Elementary School
The elementary school, which contains 4 and in some federal states 6 years, shall give the children a solid basis for individual learning, working and for own thoughts. They should be motivated to learn for their whole life and to have fun while learning. In the first grade the children don’t get any marks and during the school year there are periods of concentrated learning and relaxing and plays. Well developed speech skills are very important for school beginners. They are an assumption for learning how to write and to read. Already in the first grade the students write short texts and poems and deal with children’s literature.
In the subject “Heimatkunde” the students learn something about how people live together with plants and domestic animals and generally about the environment we live in. In Maths the children learn to count up to 1 million, to multiply, to add, to divide and to subtract. The 3rd and 4th graders come into first contact with a foreign language, usually English or French. The subjects ethics and religion are taught from the 1st grade on. Who is not religious attends the ethics class. Other subjects are P.E., art, music and handicraft. While there are no marks in the 1st grade, the marks are introduced during the 2nd grade.
A typical German institution belonging to the elementary school is the so called “Hort”. The children stay there after school. At first they have lunch, the 1stgraders sleep afterwards and in the afternoon all students have the possibility to do their homework and to play together. Usually the Hort lasts until 4 pm, but it is also possible to stay there longer. The parents have to a charge, which depends on the duration of the stay and on the marital status of the parents.

Secondary School
After the elementary school the students can choose between the secondary school and the gymnasium. Especially children who don’t get the best or average grades attend the secondary school.
In the 5th and 6th grade the children are able to change to a gymnasium, if they get really good grades. At the end of the 6th grade, the students have to choose their profile, which is very important for their vocational future. It depends on the chosen profile, which subjects will be taught and how difficult the classes will be. The different profiles deal for example with technology, social matters and housekeeping. From the 7th to the 10th grade computer science is a basic subject. Taught foreign languages are English and French if one chooses the language profile.
After the 9th class you get your main school leaving certificate automatically, but you can also do an exam where your skills are tested. If you do well, you get your qualified main school leaving certificate. With both kinds of certificates you are able to start a professional training, which lasts at least three years. After the 10th grade the students have to do written and oral exams to get their secondary school leaving certificates. If they did very well they can grasp the opportunity to attend a vocational gymnasium and to get the Abitur, otherwise they can attend a vocational school or start a professional training.

If the students have good grades and they show talent in the elementary school, they are allowed to attend the gymnasium. At the gymnasium the students shall reach a high level of general education, which is the assumption for studying at university.
As well as in the secondary school the children are able to leave the school, but this time, if the grades are getting worse. So they can attend the secondary school instead of the gymnasium. At the end of the 7th grade the students choose a profile, too, but they can just choose between the language profile and a more scientific one.
From the 7th to the 10th grade you have to learn at least two different foreign languages, but it depends on the chosen profile, how intensively scientific subjects are taught. After the 10th grade, all students can get their skills tested to achieve a certificate which could be compared to the secondary school leaving certificate. After 12 years, at the end of school time in elementary school and gymnasium, you have to do your school leaving exams. That means you have to do three written and one oral exam. The students have to write exams in their advanced courses and they have to do exams in maths and German, either written or oral. Usually the students have chosen one of them as an advanced course, so they have the free choice, in which subject they want to have their 4th exam. If you have chosen for example history and English as your advanced courses, you can just choose whether you want to do the oral exam in math or German, which are both not easy. At the end the results of the exams and the average grades of the last two years are summed up and form the one and only average grade, the Abitur. This leaving certificate authorizes you to study at university. The better your average grade is the better are your chances, because there are some subjects where you have to fulfil the so called numerus clausus. If you would like to study medicine in Dresden you must have an average grade of 1,4 or better.
2. Our School Life

General Facts:

Our School Day:
The normal school day usually begins at 7:30 am, but some of the seniors even start at 6:40 am. Every class takes 45 minutes and between the classes there are at least 10 minutes break. After the 2nd class there is a breakfast break which takes 15 minutes and after the 5th/6th class there is a long lunch break which lasts 30 minutes. We need the breaks to get from one classroom to the next, but we aren’t the only ones who have to walk. Our teachers don’t have fixed classrooms, so they have to change the rooms, too.
After the common classes, which take until afternoon, the students are able to take part in different work groups like chess, choir, history, theatre or art. Sportive students can participate in work groups like soccer, handball, basketball or aerobic. Another possibility is to become a member of the student’s company bb-web if one is interested in environmental policy and renewable energies. After every half year of school the students get their school reports with their average grades in the different subjects and the four additional grades. At the end of the first grade the children don’t get any grades, they get a written judgement instead. From grade 2 to 10 the students get one school report every half school year. The first one shows the grades of the first half year, the second one shows the average grades of the whole school year. After the 10th grade you get at least 4 half year school reports, which are equally important. These ones are also necessary for the calculation of the A-level results.

In Germany you first get grades in the 2nd grade. The best grade is an 1, the worst is a 6. Like in America, plus and minus show trends. In the 11th and in the 12th grade (in some federal states also in the 13th) the students get credits instead of grades.
Beside this kind of grades, every student gets 4 grades every half school year in: behaviour, effort, class participation and orderliness.
Grade ( grade 2-10) Credits( 11th + 12th grade) American Grade 1* 15 A+ 1 14 A 1- 13 A- 2+ 12 B+ 2 11 B 2- 10 B- 3+ 9 C+ 3 8 C 3- 7 C- 4+ 6 D+ 4 5 D 4- 4 D- 5+ 3 F+ 5 2 F 5- 1 F- 6 0

While German students go to school, they have different subjects. In the elementary school they learn basic subjects like German (reading and writing), Maths (esp. calculating), P.E. and different kinds of art (painting, music, and handicraft) to improve the children’s skills. Between the 5th and the 10th grade a few new subjects are added. In our school it depends on the chosen learning profile, whether the students learn scientific subjects more intensively than languages or vice versa. From the 11th grade on, the students attend courses, they have chosen on their own (two advanced courses and basic courses). The following schedule is an example for our gymnasium Bertolt Brecht.
Grade New Subjects 1 German, maths, music, handicraft, P.E., ethics/religion, art, “Heimatkunde” 2 - 3 English 4 - 5 biology, history, geography 6 - 7 computer science 8 chemistry, Russian/French/Latin 9 social studies 10 Astronomy 11-12(13) No more classes, but courses. Every student can choose one’s subjects

Vacations and holidays:
School would be nothing without vacations and holidays. From time to time every student is burned out and needs some relaxation. In Saxony we have vacations in February (winter vacation), in April (Easter vacation), in July and August (summer vacation), in October (autumn vacation) and of course in December at Christmas and Sylvester. Additional to that we have a few holidays spread over the whole year.
Laws about Education and School
All things referring to school are regulated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany and in the federal states’ constitutions.

For example the 7th article of the state’s constitution says:
All school matters are under the state’s supervision.
… parents can decide, whether their child has to attend the subject religion. [at age 14 they can decide whether they want to go on with the subject or not]…
… Private schools are as long legitimate as they can fulfil the curriculum the public schools follow …
The federal states have the educational supremacy. They have to decide on their own, for example how the curriculum is structured, whether students have to attend a gymnasium until the 12th or 13th grade whether the primary school lasts 4 or 6 years. They also have to take care for the school buildings and the schools’ equipment.
But students also have duties. Children have to attend the primary school at age 6 or 7 and they have to attend a school for at least 12 years. These 12 years include at least 9 years at a public school plus the years students spend for example at a vocational school or during their professional training.
3. Our student’s company “bb-web”
At the beginning of the school year 2001/2002 a photovoltaic plant was installed on the roof of our school. Hardly anybody knew anything about photovoltaic or had ever heard of renewable energies. So some students and the donator of the pv-plant founded the “solar” working group. Soon they noticed that it would be necessary to work independently. That’s how the basic idea of a student’s company was developed. A statute was elaborated and on the 7th of May 2002 “bb-web” was founded. The name itself is a message: “bb” stands for our school, the Bertolt Brecht gymnasium, “web” means “Wissen, Energie, Bildung”, i.e. “knowledge, energy and education”. Since the “historical” date more than two years ago the company has acted in the public and the students have taken part in conferences and fairs.
Like nearly all companies, bb-web is subdivided into different departments. There are departments for financial things, information, further education, electronic data processing and for public relation, which all stand under the manager’s supervision.
One of the student’s aims is to improve the teaching aid situation at our school, because parts of the experimental equipment for example in physics are antiquated. Fuel cells, new experimental equipment, many solar cells, a concave mirror and two Stirling motors show that the company has already ended up with this aim. Other aims for the future are the enlargement of the photovoltaic plant (which will take place in the next half year: enlargement from 1 kW to 11 kW) and the organization of further educations for teachers and students dealing with the topics renewable energies, sustainable development, World Environmental Summits (1972-2002) and global warming/the greenhouse effect. bb-web shall exist as long as possible and is handed over from one generation to the following one.
Hierbei handelt es sich um einen Vergleich der Schulsysteme Deutschlands und der USA. Ich vergleiche sowohl Fächer, als auch Bildungswege und Schulalltag. Das Referat habe ich in Amerika im Rahmen eines Schüleraustausches gehalten...

1. Parts of the School System and their function
a) Kindergarten
b) Grundschule - Elementary school/Grade school
c) Realschule - Secondary school/ Junior Highschool
d) Gymnasium
2. Our School Life
a) General Facts
b) Laws about Education and School
3. Our Student’s Company “bb-web” (2309 Wörter)
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