First impressions of a Waldorf School

School blackboard - ©iStockphoto.com/kyoshinoLast week our local Waldorf school held an open day – an “open classroom day” to be precise.  The Waldorf education method differs from the normal state education in Germany, even though it was developed here in the first half of the 20th Century.

Now admittedly this was not my first contact the method, having previously had conversations with teachers at both this and other Waldorf schools and learnt, for example, that the teachers are expected to prepare the lessons themselves – in most cases without the use of text books.  But it was a chance to experience the lessons first hand, as the classroom was opened up for parents of the children and anyone else interested to sit in on them and watch.

I spent the morning observing year 5, [Read more…]

English language teaching in German primary schools

Do you speak English? - ©iStockphoto.com/atakanWhen my daughter started school in Germany, I wondered how long it would be before she learnt something in her English lessons, that I did not agree with.  A piece of grammar maybe, or a translation.

Regular readers of this site may recall that she is being taught “school English”, which was defined as spelling “colour” with a “u”.  Whilst not exactly the words “British English” that I would like it to be defined as, I am at least happy that I do not yet have to explain that other countries leave that “u” out and in some cases even use other words for the same things.

It was whilst I was helping her revise for a vocabulary test a few days ago, that I suspected the time may already have come, and further inspection of her vocabulary book confirmed my suspicion.  In some cases, I found the translations to be unusual, but in some to be down right wrong.

And since there were some entries from her teacher in the book, I am assuming that she has seen the offending words and that this is not just a mistake that took place copying them from the blackboard. [Read more…]

How marks are decided in German primary schools

The German school system has, on the face of it, a fairly simple marking arrangement.  The marks for a piece of work are given on a scale of 1 to 6, with 1 being the highest and 6 the lowest.

The numbers 1 to 6 roughly correspond to A to F in the British system as well, although 5 is usually the lowest that will be given for anyone actually completing the work or a test, with 6 reserved for those who don’t do it at all.  There are also the + and – grades in-between.

But how do the marks get decided for each child in the first place?

One possible answer to that question, and probably the most plausible in many subjects, is be the teacher making the decision.  This does, of course, require a competent and fair teacher, but [Read more…]

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