German Teachers vs. American Teachers

September 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

What a difference — or so my kids Arnold and Pauline say. They both came home after the second day of school and said they think the German teachers are really mean and basically suck. Both hated their gym teachers. We never got a supply list, so they showed up for gym without their gym clothes. In Portland this is not a problem, they say, because they are given a week to get their stuff together.

Not here. My son told me his teacher gave him a 6 (that’s the lowest grade equivalent to an F-) for the day because he didn’t have his gym clothes — even though he did all the activities. My daughter’s teacher said to her: “You should have brought your clothes. Didn’t you see that you had gym on your schedule? I’ll speak with you later”

Of course both kids came home super angry and complaining, which doesn’t help because they complain about everything all the time anyway. In general they think the German teachers are mean and arrogant. Pauline said: “They just think they’re gods.”

I never went to school in Germany, so I have no point of reference for this. But I did go to the school the next day to get an understanding of what is going on and interestingly enough the high school principal’s secretary knew exactly what I was talking about — and an American teacher who was in her office just kept nodding. The secretary apologized for the gym teachers and she put me in touch with Pauline’s teacher and I hashed things out with her. But both the secretary and the US teacher agreed that German teachers have a very different approach than US ones.

This was confirmed yesterday when Pauline came home and said her German teacher made her rewrite an entire page because she had incorrectly written the letter s.

“He said it was too small. He made another girl rewrite the page because she had written it on incorrect paper.”

Hmmm….This is proving to be a very interesting year. Arnold is already complaining about how Germans get ticked off by the slightest little thing. “It just has to be so and if it’s not their way” it’s a big catastrophe.

He also finds all these various rules ridiculous to the point of being amusing. More on that later.


§ 2 Responses to German Teachers vs. American Teachers

  • Gerlinde says:

    I can see how the transition is hart for your kids, they have my sympathy, Everytime I come home and visit I have a bit of a culture shock as well and I am German. getting not much sympathy from pals or parents when I had similar complains about my teachers back in the day in Germany. The Theme is, to be prepared and do your work well the first time or you suffer for it.
    Kids have to take school serious and keep on there toes or they are held responsible. In this aspect I do agree with the system, however being over the top as in grating your son for not having his gym cloth is a sign of “mean spirit” maybe,incompetence, overreaction.. I am not sure what. It seems a little much.
    I do think this is part of the strength in the system as well, ultimately your kids will be efficient, thorough and prepared.

    And just like everywhere there are bad apples, and they are hart to get rid off in Germany as much as here in the US.

    I think I will share this blog with my American teacher friends and Parents alike.

    Thank you for the wonderful stories
    and take care of your loved ones

    • Thanks Gerlinde. I’m glad you like the stories, though there are days when I really wished I had less to write about.
      I think “mean spirit” is an interesting and perhaps apt description. There are so many ways to say the same thing. And yes there are good and bad teachers everywhere. And I can tell you from personal experience in the Portland Public School system that it is next to impossible to get a bad teacher fired.
      The kids are slowly adjusting. I don’t think Berlin will ever be home to them and that’s okay. The complaints are decreasing, which is nice, but the observations aren’t, which is also good.
      Take care,

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