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Coming back to life... slowly

I'm getting there... slowly but surely. I've already decided that once I'm healthy again, I'm *so* starting a once-a-week Sauna routine again. Back when I was going swimming and into the sauna almost every week, I had almost no problems with colds or bronchitis. There's a big spa-pool-thing (public) just two towns over and, despite the fact that we've been living here for two years now, I haven't managed to scrounge up the time to go.

I will do so, as soon as my bronchitis is gone. *hates bronchitis*

Because I was feeling better yesterday, I finally cleared up my office. I'd just been piling boxes and papers and mangas and stuff all over the place, until I almost couldn't get through anymore. Cleaned all of that out yesterday, dusted and vaccuumed and now it's looking so much better! Makes me feel clearer in my head, too. I like not trying to dig my way through five piles of stuff just to find one invoice. >.<


My daughter got her first-term report card yesterday. Well... I've seen better... No "F", but also no "A"s in subjects where it would count. Mostly "C"s and "D"s... :( *sigh* Well, I told her to make a wish for herself. If she has nothing worse than a "C" on her report card at the end of the year, in any subject, then I'll fullfill that wish. Right now it's not looking like I need to put aside any money for that... We'll see...

My mother's worried that Zizi is not doing well enough in school. She's already thinking that with her current grades, she won't have a chance in life. Gods, Zizi's in *7th* grade, for Goddess's sake! She'll pick up as things go on, I'm sure of it. So far, there's no question of her having to repeat a year, so I'm not *that* worried. Not terribly pleased, but not really worried. I guess I have a lot more confidence in my daughter's abilities than my mother does. Then again, my mother's just worried - and seeing the way things are going as far as jobs and stuff are concerned here in Germany... I almost have to agree...

Oh, a question to the Americans on my flist: how long is school (High School) usually on a given day. I seem to remember having (regular) school from 8:45 am to 3:45 pm - with one period for lunch. Is that still accurate? And then afternoon activities. *And* homework. Right?

'Cause there's currently a discussion about higher level schooling here in Germany. Usually kids go to school from 8 am to about 1, 1:30 pm. But now they're extending school hours until 2, sometimes 3 pm. And everyone's up in arms about it, because it means that the kids don't have any free time for extracurricular activities.

Mind you though: the extracurricular activities are *not* being offered by the school! They're your private business. You want your kids to do sports? You find a local sports club for them. And the sports clubs, of course, only meet in the afternoon, so that everyone can be home by dinner.

So ever since school hours are being extended into later afternoon, everyone's complaining that the sports clubs are loosing members, that the kids have no free time, that there's too much homework... and so on.

I'm trying to think back to my time at HS. I seem to remember quite a *lot* of homework. Has that changed?


I've discovered ITunes... or rather, the store. I just bought a few songs, instead of investing into the CD immediately. This way I can see whether I like the music and *then* go out and buy the CD if I really want to. I've also bought a few albums off ITunes and it's cheaper than picking up the CD. *And* I can put them right onto my IPod without all the hassle. I even found music by one of my all time favourite bands - I think ITunes has almost all of their albums up for downloading. That's really nice, especially because Steeleye Span's music is often hard to find.

I think I like ITunes... ^^


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
My junior high and the high in my district go from 7:25 to 1:55. The idea was, I think, to have time after school for students with jobs. Our school does have after school activities- but we're funded for them since we have a lot of 'at risk' students. They are talking about extending hours here too in order to give the kids more time in a 'safe' environment and of course, deal with the test score issue. Homework here is determined by grade level- 10 minutes for each one- so a 7th grader should have 70 minutes. (Not that they usually do. A lot of schools are pushing to not give homework as they say it doesn't help. Mine just wants us to give it, but not have it count for much. The debate rages on.)
Feb. 16th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
7:25? That's terribly early, isn't it? Do you break for lunch or does it go through - since 1:55 sounds like the kids would be able to go home for lunch.

And the activities are funded seperately? Oh... I guess I never really thought about it when I was in HS.

70 minutes? No, I don't think that we're done in 70 minutes. More like 2-3 hours of homework. Each day. And more, if they have tests coming up. The homework debate has started here, too. But like so many debates about the state of school here, it will just end up being nothing more than hot air. *sigh*

Pity that we parent's aren't allowed to be as strongly involved in school development here as they seem to be in the States (from what I've gathered so far...).
Feb. 16th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
It's very early! There has been some talk of changing it because kids that age need more sleep, but it never gets changed. We do get a lunch- about 30 minutes and there's another 10 minute snack break in the morning, since a lot of our kids are on the free breakfast thing.

Yes- most of the activities are- and to help pay for them some are community supported too. It just depends. We did get a huge grant for after school programs that really helped too.

The homework thing varies, depending on student, teacher, principal, school, etc. I know some students take hours and others don't even do it. A lot of our students do their homework in the after school programs because that's the only place they can get help with it.

Parents are welcomed into school development meetings and wherever they are willing to be- I think it makes a huge difference!
Feb. 16th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
There's been talk about later starting hours for school - but as always, nothing's come of it. Kid here do have a kind of lunch break - about 30 minutes, too - but there's no cafeteria or such.

Normal schools here don't have school sponsored after school activities - and also no after school programs. Also, teachers will have gone home latest 15 minutes after the last bell rings. If you want to meet with a teacher as a parent, you have to come in during the morning. You work full time? That's *your* problem - not the teacher's. :(

Parents aren't really welcome. They're seen as interferance.
Feb. 16th, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
That's too bad about the meeting thing. My school got a grant last year that pays teachers to go and meet with students and their families at their homes. A lot of schools here are pushing for that now because it's more comfortable for the parents.
Feb. 18th, 2008 10:32 am (UTC)
Teachers... visiting parents? O.o

Oh my, I should try suggesting that here. But then all the teachers would start screaming about how much time they're *already* spending on their job, and that they can't be expected to spend even *more* time and so on.

So far, it's been a school-stuff-is-dictated-from-above (i.e. the State) and we parents and their kids should just be quiet and take it kind of state of things.

Teachers are civil servants and can't be dismissed - even if they're *really* bad. Even if they molest kids or hit them, it's more likely that the teacher will get tranferred to another school, or get sent home with a tidy pension, than that the teacher will get suspended or even fired. The teacher is *always* right - in all decisions pertaining to your child. All aspects of school are worked out and implemented by the State - parents have no say in any decision.

It makes me really upset, sometimes.

Sorry for venting...
Feb. 18th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Yes. It's so that the parents feel comfortable and the teacher can see what the home situation is like. Plus, no teacher is going to say no to extra money! Our salaries are not high.

*smile* We've talked about that civil servant thing before- teachers here are civil servants too. We have tenure and all that- but the attitude here is a lot different! Here sometimes it's a fight to get the parents involved!
Feb. 18th, 2008 02:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, I remember that we spoke on this before. :)

In low income families, there's also the problem that parents aren't as aware of the problems that their kids will face if they don't get a good education. So there *is* a problem of getting parents involved. But many parents would *like* to be involved, and aren't allowed to.

How soon after you're hired do you get tenure? Here it is immediately. As soon as you have your first job as a full-time teacher at a state-run school - that's it. You're settled for life.

I think the biggest problem is that, because the State runs *everything* and makes all the decisions, and teachers don't have to fear for their jobs, teachers aren't motivated to work beyond their daily routine.

There isn't even a way to evaluate your teachers - unless it's done privately. Children are more or less saddled with the teachers that they get - there's almost no way to effect a change, if there are problems.

Teachers here have quite comfortable salaries - they are paid, even if they are sick, or during school holidays. So there's no real motivation to do more.
Feb. 18th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
That's too bad about the parents. We try to keep our classrooms as open as possible- I've had parents come and spend the day with their kids for lots of reasons- to see what the kids do, to sitting with them as a punishment. (Be good or Mom comes to sit with you!)

We get tenure *eventually*. The length of your probation depends on your district- and it's not a promised tenure- esp if there are financial issues- which at this moment there are in CA. Once you have tenure though, it just means it's harder to fire you- not impossible. They just have a few more steps first.

No evaluations? O.o I would say that my admin walks through my class at least once a week, people that are higher up come about twice a month. They have a checklist and you damn well better have everything they ask for. And that's not counting the formal evals! And we switch students around all the time- esp if the parents request!

We are paid a salary- we get sick days and all that, but the salary is based on education levels and years of service. Our credentials are only renewed if we take classes to keep ourselves current. So we have motivation!
Feb. 18th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
We try to keep our classrooms as open as possible

I've only sat in on one of my daughter's classes once - that was in elementary school. And only because I was the one providing the "show" part of her show-and-tell - that being the cat that I'd brought.
Parents in the classroom are *not* wanted.

Unless a teacher *really* f***ks up, it's virtually impossible to fire him/her. That's what being a civil servant here in Germany is all about. At worst, they'll just ease you out of your job and put you on a reduced pension plan until you reach retirement age. You can't lose, once you're hired by the State.

No evaluations? [snip] And we switch students around all the time- esp if the parents request!

Oh my! Our teachers here would go ape-shit if they had to *submit* to evaluation. Each teacher his more or less his or her own boss. Oh, they do have to answer to the director of the school, but that's more or less it. There's almost no way that an outsider (read: parent) can do anything about an unfair, mean, repressive or incompetent teacher - as long as the teacher doesn't do something *really* awful - like rape a kid.

but the salary is based on education levels and years of service.

Well, it does change with years of service. But that's pretty much it. There's a tarif out there and if you're in the job long enough, your salary gets raised automatically.

Our credentials are only renewed if we take classes to keep ourselves current. So we have motivation!

I don't think I've ever heard of teachers here *having* to take *any* kinds of classes after they're hired. If they don't feel like it, they never have to take another class or update themselves for the next 40 or however long years they spend on the job...
Feb. 16th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
School is just so stinking stressful! I remember sitting with my kid and having to decide if she did the homework or went to bed at a reasonable hour! >_<;;
Feb. 16th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that Zizi has the regularily scheduled study time in boarding school. Otherwise we'd really be hard pressed to keep up. And even outside study time she has to put in time when she's shaky on one subject or another... :(
Feb. 16th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
High School in my area is from 7:40-2:40 everyday. There's a 30 minute lunch period and 5 minutes between each class (of which there are 6 per day). They have special programs for kids that have jobs (where you get out early and the "class" requires reports and evaluations from bosses).

And the large majority of extracurriculars are school run and funded. It's really the only way you even get "credit" for it on college apps here in the states. I think they basically assume you're lying if its not school run *shrugs*

Hope that helped!
Feb. 16th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
7:40 is also pretty early! O.o Do you have a cafeteria?

Here, kids don't *have* jobs - they go to school. Extra curricular activities are usually not offered by the school, because Universities here are only interested in your grades - not your interests. Actually, if you spend too much time on extracurricular activities, you're seen as "not serious enough" for study. :(
Feb. 16th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
I always thought so too *laughs* I was never pleased to get up to get ready, i can assure you! And yes, there was a cafeteria and we weren't allowed to go off-campus for lunch.

It's basically the total opposite here. If you don't have extracurriculars you're not very well considered. Colleges and universities here in the States want a "well rounded" candidate. That usually means at least 2-5 extracurriculars and often a job. Plus excellent grades and test scores. It's really crazy! But its really because there's really very few other options now. You HAVE to go to college to get anywhere here in the States. And it's getting more and more common that even a bachelors degree is worth next to nothing, and an MA is needed to get anywhere.
Feb. 18th, 2008 10:35 am (UTC)
Well, Universities here are interested *only* in the grade average on your final school term. Nothing else that comes before, no extracurricular activities, nothing else counts. And don't even think about having a job, because then you won't have enough time for homework and learning.

And yes, more and more people are pushing for their kids to go to High School (or rather Gymnasium, as we call it here) so that they can study. Because without Abitur (that's the diploma you get after 12 years of school), you can't study *or* even get an apprenticeship.

The demands on our kids are getting higher and higher every day. >.
Feb. 18th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
I couldn't remember so I looked it up online. High school is open from 7am - 4pm. Classes run basically 7:30am to 2:25pm, there's 20 min for lunch. My state law says students have to be in class at least 5.5 hrs per day.

I think I rode the bus ~45 min, so yeah, very early.

Clubs and sports met after 2:30 and were mostly finished so students could take the junior high buses home. There were enough kids in my district that they stagger-started the schools so the buses made rounds for elementary, junior hs, and senior hs, so the really little kids never had to ride with the big kids.

I was active in 5 clubs and had a part-time job. Fortunately I thought school was a breeze.

At least there's no such thing as after school cram-school.... yet.
Feb. 18th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
So school started pretty early for you, too. Hm...

Spending too much time on the bus was one of the reasons why we put Zizi in a boarding school. So the time she would have to spend commuting is spent on learning instead.

Usually, once you move from elementary school into one of the other schools (we have a three school system - 1) the continuation of Elementary school until 10th grade, where you can take a kind of qualifying test - theoretically it's enough to get you a simple job or apprenticeship. In truth: it virtually guarantees you unemployment for life. 2) the Middle School - a kind of vocationary school where a lot of emphasis is put on practical learning - if you finish that, you can actually go on to Higher School and then to University. You can also finish Middle School with a diploma that *will* get you into jobs and apprenticeships - just not very high quality ones. And then there's 3) High School (Gymnasium) which now runs to the end of 12th grade (used to be 13th grade) and which, if you make it through, lets you go to university.

After you switch out of regular Elementary school - after four years - you don't have school busses anymore. Everyone is on their own. Don't have parents to pick you up? Well, you'll just have to see how you get home using the public transport system. Living too far from the train or bus stop? Well, you can walk.

So by the time kids get home, sit down to do their homework (often for each subject there'll be homework), there's no time for anything else. And since High School is so high level, many kids need extra help - that being either private after-school help, or cram schools.

Not a very pleasant way to spend your school years. :(
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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