German American Partnership Program (GAPP) is a major part of our lives for about 6+ weeks of the year. For three weeks, German students and their teachers housed with American families, went to class with their peers in American High School, and gave presentations to various classes in the school. There are many things I love about this program, especially the chance it gives all students to open their eyes to another culture, to see new possibilities for learning about one's own culture as it is dissected through the view of someone else. Later this summer, Jared is helping to take a large group of Guajome students to Aurich, Germany. I cannot wait to hear what those kids have to say when they get back.
One might wonder why I have any interest in this whole swap as much as I do, just being the wife-of-the-German-teacher and all, but I LOOOOOVE getting to swap teacher ideas with the teachers from Aurich. We talk philosophy, practices, problems,... mostly problems in American schools and the intense drive for academic 'performance' from students at such a young age. In German Kindergarten, the time is dedicated to art, music, dance, stories-- you know, the fun part of school that we now have 'no time for'. It's also interesting that these students from Aurich go to Gymnasium, which is a part of a tiered education system. You see, in Germany, not everybody goes to college. (But neither do they in America, we say! But wait, there's more...). Once a child hits around 7th grade, depending on the city, a child goes to Realschule (which prepares for a vocation) or to Gymnasium. Do you realize the ramifications of that on a social level in the schools? That kid who is only in school to be legal is not found in Gymnasium. There are, of course, schools in Germany that are more like the equivilent of American High School called Gesamtschule... meaning all-together schools, which didn't used to exist but came to be out of an attitude to "integrate more",but it's interesting to hear reports of such horrible behavior there. (Duh. American High School 2.0) But vocational schools like Realschule (to learn clerical and store jobs- goes til 10th grade) and Hauptschule (to learn a vocation early on- only goes to 9th grade)....are significantly less.
Anyhow, just gets me going on an education soapbox of mine. Wish is was different. It isn't. I work in Young Womens at church right now. It is unbeLIEVEable, some of the issues coming out of the huge, "good" high school right down the street from us. Just watching the students walk home from school is a sight some days. Skirts so short, you can see curves peeking out. Like when was the hooker look ever in? And it bleeds over to church, where the styles are certainly better-than-school, but still so not making the cut. People have asked if our youth have different rules in our ward. Yeah. That's another post that has a good outcome.