Heard that the German school system reflects the three-class society of the nineteenth century? What does this mean? Are they still working with slates? And using the cane? I’m joking, but can anyone give me some information, because I have absolutely no clue!
19 Jun 2007, 06:02
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I don't know exactly what you're talking about, but I'm sure that this doesn’t mean that they still have the teaching style of the nineteenth century.
I found an article that probably can answer your question:
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Vernor Muñoz Villalobos, has sharply criticized the tri-partite German educational system and has made it partly responsible for the poor performance, in terms of equal opportunity, in the PISA tests. The country of poets and thinkers has again been pilloried because of its poor educational system.
Muñoz is right. The tripartite educational system, rare in most parts of the world, no longer fits the times. It reflects the three-class society of the nineteenth century. Formerly, the nomenclature was the folk school, the middle school and the upper school, an implicit admission that the schools were for the upper class, the middle class and the common folk. Today the politically correct terms are lower secondary school, intermediate school and upper secondary school (Gymnasium), but the new names hardly disguise the fact that the German educational system cements the existing inequality in society.
Germany separates its pupils into the three school forms already at the age of ten years, while virtually all other countries keep them together until they are out of puberty, at the age of 14 or 15 years, and only then separate them, and mostly such that some pupils leave the common school earlier than the others. The early selection maximises the influence of parents and minimises the importance of the children’s actual talent. A child of academic parents has a seven-times greater chance at an upper secondary education than a child of a skilled labourer. Children of a foreign background are particularly disadvantaged. While 40% of German pupils go on to upper secondary school, only 18% of foreign pupils make it. Every second foreign pupil (49%) attends a lower secondary or special school. Among the German pupils only one in five (21%) does.
The German system admittedly has more than just disadvantages. The early separation of pupils gives special support to the talented ones. The German upper-secondary school diploma (Abitur) is still considered an excellent degree. The French baccalauréat or the Anglo-Saxon high school diploma, which more than half of all pupils achieve, are comparatively inferior.
Nevertheless, the advantage of a better promotion of gifted pupils does not offset the obvious disadvantage that the talent reserves of working-class children are not exhausted. One finds many children at German upper secondary schools that do not belong there, and among the children of craftsmen and workers there are many that could have achieved a higher education if they had been supported early enough.
As the Ifo Institute’s Ludger Woessmann has determined, in an extensive econometric study based on the OECD PISA data, there is no empirical evidence that the early separation of pupils has a positive influence on the average PISA test results. In fact, there is even some evidence that the early separation tends to reduce average pupil performance. In any case the early separation leads to a massive increase in the performance differences of the tested pupils. Germany, alongside Belgium, has the widest spread in pupil performance of all OECD countries, which has received the strong criticism of the OECD. If these greater differences could be seen as the price for higher average pupil quality, the German system could still perhaps be justified. But since this system increases the differences without improving average performance it should be committed to the dustbin of history.