Thursday, March 5, 2015

The German Education System: March 2015 series, WGBH


Four-part series focusing on what we can learn from Germany.  (Thanks to David Aubin for sharing the link.)

Part 1. How can we CONTROL THE COSTS of higher education?  (Is this even desirable?)


  • p.s. Essen is NOT a small suburb of Cologne but rather a vibrant city of its own. In fact, it has a population of over 500,000. ... This story... is really very good at its core.

  • Some information valuable and interesting and on the mark, while other information was misleading or downright false.
    •  In my 8+ years studying at two different German Unis, I rarely sat in classes with more than 20 students in them. In fact, most of my seminars and courses had anywhere from ten to twenty students, many of whom I got to know quite well over the years.
    • There is definitely student housing at all German universities (Studentenwohnheime) - perhaps not exactly the same as in America but existent nonetheless. I lived in a wonderful dorm at the Uni in Bonn. All the students on each floor shared a kitchen which provided the opportunity to get to know other students very well.
    • I also had the experience at both the Uni in Bonn and in Hamburg where I spent several years studying linguistics that I got to know my professors and even met with them outside of the Uni setting.
    • As a professor now at a state college I can guarantee you that the professors in Germany make similar salaries and probably put in fewer hours than their American colleagues. They also get more sabbaticals than we do.
    --- But yes, the German Unis lack many of the bells and whistles and definitely all the administrative bloat!
Part 2.  What CAN'T WE MATCH IN THE USA in comparison with higher education in Germany?

Part 3.  Germany produces happy, successful and even "ARISTOCRATIC" BLUE COLLAR WORKERS, -- rather than so-called cultural misfits in the USA: those people who don't dream of going to college.

Try a paid apprenticeship!  A company WILL PAY YOU ~ $1200/month to learn to be a good employee.  Once your 3 year training period is over, most apprentice-graduates will then get hired by their host company -- and salaries starting at US$ 60,000 aren't unheard of.  Compare that 4 year period with being a US college student for 4 years, paying even $60,000/year x 4 for a diploma:

                                     Year 1      Year 2      Year 3      Year 4           Total
German Apprenticeship     $14,400    $14,400   $14,400    $60,000     $103,000            INCOME!
USA  4 year University      $22-60K  $22-60K  $22-60K  $22-60K    $88,000-240,000  in DEBT  

Part 4.  How TALENT AND ABILITIES ARE CHANNELED in Germany, which keeps kids engaged and productive.

The beginning part of this report shows a strong American bias.  Most often, parents who attended university themselves are going to wish that for their children, too.  But the system succeeds as is in many ways, since it tends to support kids at the pace at which they are currently developing.  Should a student develop to the point of wanting more of a challenge, those separate educational tracks can merge.


great report, but they forgot to mention one important detail: the decision what track a student goes on is not final. There are many options to change track later on. Kids that start slower can develop at their own pace, and switch later on ...  

 A further point is that the Realschule and the Hauptschule are merging into a Gesamtschule (or inclusive school) so that


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