School Systems Around the World: Germany

The typical school day in Oelde, Germany begins at around 6:30 am. The students all ride their bikes to school which is definitely very different from RHS because only a handful of students bike to school. Most arrive to school wearing t-shirts, jeans, and sneakers or generally very casual and conservative clothing,  The school day begins with the first period and classes are each forty five minutes long. Unlike in RHS, where “double periods” generally apply to science classes, students in Oelde can have double periods in any class (i.e. double english, double art).

The first through third periods are divided by breaks. A five minute break follows first period, a fifteen minute break after second period, and a twenty minute break after third period. Students can go to the cafeteria and munch on pretzels or pastries.

According to RHS students who traveled to Germany on the exchange trip, classes seem much less rigorous even in the Gymnasium, which is the highest level of high school in Germany. Homework is rarely assigned and students are not expected to complete assignments even when they are assigned. Moreover, tests are given only once or twice a semester.

Because lunch is considered to be the biggest meal in Germany, students usually leave school to eat lunch at home. The school day in general is scheduled differently, with some days ending earlier than others. Classes are also not always in the same room. If math class was in one building one day, it could be in a completely different building the next day. Some classes are even held outside, in which case students need to walk to different buildings.

Unlike in Ridgewood, sports are not connected to the school. As ____, an RHS student who went on the trip, describes, “I stayed with a German who played field hockey and she plays on club teams which practice once or twice a week. When I told my German exchange student that my lacrosse team practices 6 times a week for the school she thought it was crazy.” There are few sports or clubs and little to no school spirit.

All students go to the same elementary school and when they are in third grade, they get graded on a scale of one through six (one being the best). Based on their grades, students with a one or two go to the Gymnasium, students with a three or four go to the Hauptschule and the kids with a five or six go to the Realschule. There is an observable divide between the Gymnasium students and the Hauptschule systems, almost as though there is an established hierarchy system. Once students are in tenth grade, they will have completed the lower two levels of school and can then move on to the Gymnasium, where they will graduate if they have sufficient grades. Otherwise, they will go off to work.

Cara Farley
Mary Skrzypczak 

staff writers

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