Gymnasium in Germany. First year

Last Updated on September 24, 2023

Of course, a covid year can hardly be called normal learning, so it is rather difficult to objectively assess grade 5 in the Gymnasium in Germany.

My comments concern a boy with normal grades (official tested as above average). That is, we project onto weaker children for the worse. By the end of the post, you will understand why most children need a private tutor.

So far, the diagnosis is as follows:

Deeply outdated education from 19th. century, with a mass of unnecessary information, based on the message “learn by heart” rather than “think”, which they are afraid to reform like a sacred cow, for some reason assuming that the gymnasium gives a good education, and if they touch it, then everything will fall apart.

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Education, which does not take into account the individual characteristics of children for a minute, ignores them in every possible way and aggressively tries to straighten everyone under one ideal pattern.

Education is fundamentally very humanitarian, no matter how hard they try to make it MINT. As the work of my husband and our friends shows, German students in the field of physics are very weak, they have large gaps in their basic knowledge. Universities are forced to do summer courses in mathematics for first-year students in order to improve their knowledge after gymnasium.


The motto is “Indifference”

The main idea that I got from the first year is that the school does not care at all what happens to the child, what he learns, how he generally feels. Indifference, of course, is served with the sauce of training independence.

When a student in university or adult receives a task without instructions or explanation, they usually try to complete it. When fifth or sixth grader doesn’t understand something and the teacher says: “You look for yourself” or “You must know yourself,” this only causes the teenager to want to do nothing at all.

So in vain I taught my son throughout elementary school not to be shy to ask if he misunderstood something. In the gymnasium, in this case, the teachers are simply sent him away. Since it was not one teacher, but different ones, it cannot be called an accident.

The high staff turnover also contributes to the indifferent attitude: firstly, seven to ten teachers at the school come and go every year. Secondly, the class teachers change every two years, and sometimes more often. They have no chance of getting to know the children in any way. In most cases, these are talking heads without contact with children. In case of any problems they send children to the class teacher or social tutor. I got the impression that the teachers hardly talk to each other about any problems with the children.

Catching a teacher to ask something is also impossible – they fly out of the classroom almost with a bell and then hide in the teacher’s room, where children are not allowed to go. There are no fixed classrooms for teachers.


An old caricature depicting different animals that have to climb a tree in order to pass an “honest, equal exam for everyone” is an excellent portrait of a gymnasium in Germany.

German gymnasium

Here they never praise or encourage, here they only fine.

If the child translated the word correctly, but made a small mistake, for example, he wrote it with a small letter, and not a capital one, then he receives zero points for the translation. If he did false task as homework or did it halfway because he did not understand, this is called “didn’t do his homework” and is penalized.

As a punishment, they are given to write meaningless texts or re-write what has already been written, as well as to sit for an hour after class.

I, working as a teacher, cannot imagine that I would not explain to a student who came to me with a question what he did not understand. In Germany, teachers are not interested or concerned about this, they do not explain anything further.

Say one thing – think another

The second thought is that it is at school that the culture of insincerity that we observe in adults is brought up: to say one thing, but to think completely different. I think everyone tried in vain to get an open opinion from the Germans on some issues. Probably, only friends will dare to be somewhat frank and at a corporate party with alcohol you can hear honest thoughts. In other cases, they will only say what needs to be said, even if it is a harmless recommendation of which dentist to go to.

At the lessons – class hours that take place every week, they cheerfully talk about tolerance, mutual assistance. They go on trips like team building – the most stupid and useless thing that psychologists have invented. But in fact, children are shown a completely different attitude. I think it is not necessary to say that education is primarily an example, not direct words.

A recent example. One boy broke my son’s thumb with a ball. For me, as a class teacher, it would be logical to talk to that boy and hint that it would be nice to take care of the person whose arm you disabled. At least take pictures of school notes and send photos. Or organize minimal assistance – since at first it was a big problem to pack things, put on a backpack and so on. The teacher was worried about only one thing – a certificate from the doctor that my son really couldn’t write, and he didn’t wrap the gypsum himself. Therefore, for several days, some idiots accused him of lying and purposely pushed him. Normal such relations, mutual assistance. He received no help from other children or teachers at all.



The quality of the teaching staff

I would say the quality is average.

Psychological preparation – is about zero. Just as I was satisfied with the vast majority of teachers in the primary school, so here I am completely unhappy. The director’s words about “wohlfühlen”, like everything else, are pure talking shop.

This is also confirmed by a known German pedagogical scientist from a university where teachers are trained: according to him, modern teachers are of the worst level, since there are not enough of them and everyone who passed the minimum level receives permission to teach. His main claim is precisely the low level of psychological and pedagogical training, they simply do not know how to talk with children. What is called, “das stimmt”. Good teachers are all from the older generation, with rare exceptions.


Education is based on some ancient principles of the 19th century: a child must be a Renaissance man and be able to do absolutely everything and everything on his own. Music, arts and sports consider themselves to be as important – in terms of program and grading principles – as the core subjects.

The main principle of the programs is sliced ​​and mixed pieces of compressed numerous knowledge. The structure is not formed completely, at all. Perhaps this is the consequences of the transition to the G8. One year of the nine-year program was simply crammed into eight years. But the principle itself is false: we take all the topics and cut them into pieces, never giving in some more or less finished form and always in a quick way.

Allegedly, every year we return to this topic again, we will learn it better. In reality, this is the lack of practice on the topic, in a year, of course, no one remembers anything, and new material, of course, again does not have time to work out. And wenn the child gets sick, the topic will generally pass by.

As they did not teach to work with textbooks in elementary school, they continue not to teach in secondary. Internet search is not taught, although it is not as natural and easy as it might seem. I know a lot of people who can’t find what I find in one sentence. Children also do not have an innate knowledge of Google’s AI concept.

For basic lessons (Mathe, Deutsch, languages), they do an additional lesson to help those who are lagging behind – it is good. And these lessons take place on the same day at the same time – it is bad. This service is for grades 5-6 only. The rest don’t seem to need it.

Very infuriates the principle of tests. First, they do not give any homework, then they give a very approximate list of questions for the control, which can fit half the textbook, and it is not clear what needs to be learned and what is not needed.


4 hours a week

Mathematics clearly shows the lack of system and density of the program. Each topic is studied well if two weeks. Difficult topics, such as opening brackets, minuses, degrees, which require drills working out, do not have time to work out. That is, we go through 20 topics quickly, quickly, then next year again the same topics with complication and also quickly. Just as they were not understood in the 5th grade, they just did not have time to remember and understand them in the 6th grade.

It’s good that the mathematician spent the entire autumn in the 6th grade on working out the 5th grade contrary to the program, but some things still haven’t settled down. And this is a boy with marks 1-2, you yourself understand what is in the head of those who have 3-4.

Grade 5th program (textbook Lambacher Schweizer). 35 topics, if I counted correctly. 52 weeks a year, we clean up the holidays – approximately on the topic for a week. I may have mistranslated some terms, please correct me.

  • numerical axis
  • decimal system (thousands, millions, etc.)
  • rounding
  • short repetition of basic operations and written multiplication and division
  • Roman numerals
  • binary system
  • length, weight, money, time
  • diagrams
  • scale
  • axial symmetry
  • perpendicular and parallel lines
  • coordinate system
  • circle, radius, diameter
  • symmetrical reflection through a point
  • parallelepiped, cube
  • image in volume
  • prism, cylinder, pyramid, cone
  • brackets
  • dots first, then dashes (multiply and divide priority)
  • bracketing
  • degree
  • common divisor
  • prime numbers
  • arithmetic laws of addition and subtraction
  • negative numbers
  • module
  • addition and subtraction of positive and negative numbers
  • area calculation
  • perimeter
  • calculation volume
  • cubic measures, ratio (liters – cm3 – dm3, etc.)
  • volume of the parallelepiped
  • calculating the size of surfaces
  • multiplication and division
  • arithmetic laws of division and multiplication

The constant jump between arithmetic and geometry is very annoying. Well, they could make one geometry lesson and three arithmetic.

Something could be sent to 4th grade. There were the longest and most boring endless examples with huge numbers, which are more for attentiveness than the brain develops, instead of giving and practicing basic knowledge like putting in brackets and opening brackets.

And these people are surprised that German children show a lack of basic knowledge on PISA.


4 lessons per week

The whole 5th grade was more literature than language – fairy tales in various forms, essays-descriptions, essays-tales. There was no grammar or spelling at all.

Grade 6 first half has finally a little of grammar – Cases. They were passed too quickly, as if it were familiar information, in fact, they had never been learned before. Well, why not in the 4th grade, at least basic?

They also repeated the tenses of the verb a little. No spelling at all.

After that, the 6th grade cheerfully went back to literature – myth, fables and poems.

I have always been for the development of speech as a basic component of teaching native language, but still, grammar and spelling should also be present.


4 lessons per week

As you know, in elementary school they are forbidden to check spelling. Thanks to our teacher, they still taught it a little. In the gymnasium in Germany, the child will have to learn by heart every letter, because a misspelled word is counted as a mistake, as if it had been translated incorrectly.

I want to say – people, what century are you in, actually? Computer programs correct everything perfectly. Spelling the words says nothing about knowledge and brains.

There is not enough grammar practice (see math – the same principle) – hello, mom-tutor. I can recommend a good site with grammar exercises – link

Latin or French

from the 6th grade the second lesson of your choice, 4 lessons per week

The second language is treated as a main subject – the same number of hours, there is also a lesson for the lagging behind. In general, it is clear – otherwise there will be no decent level at the output. But as far as Latin is concerned, it’s too much.

It is recommended to give the child a choice – so that later he does not have a chance to say that you are to blame for everything. At the end of grade 5, language presentations are held.

My child chose Latin as the easier one. To which I told him that he would die of boredom. Well, as a result, he dies of boredom and does not want to teach it. Memorizing so many words still seems like overkill to me. This is still not a language for conversation and one could be allowed to use a dictionary.

Therefore, Latin is not for those children who care about practical application, not for those who do not tolerate boring subjects. And for whom – for children with good analytical skills, those who are ready to die of boredom, just not to learn how to pronounce nasals, and those who have a disaster with spelling.

Biology and natural technology (experiments and rules for them)

Two subjects with one mark. 2 and 1 lesson per week.

The first biology teacher was very chaotic, she used the textbook only at the beginning of the year, then she switched to numerous pieces of paper and notes. So I did not catch the strategy they follow. Animals are taken from different groups and studied in varying degrees of detail, including a detailed skeleton. Some skeleton were so detailed that I could not find some bones either in the textbook or on the Internet. Other classes managed to study also both birds and plants. All this without system.

I still didn’t understand why it was necessary to draw in detail on the test, how the bees learn from the dance where the honey is – are they really going to dance for the bees? These tasks demonstrate how, in the gymnasium, unimportant additional information is turned into important information for memorization. I can’t understand why.


2 lessons in 5th grade, 1 lesson in 6th grade

Geography is more of a science-stepdaughter in the gymnasium. The geography of the world is very superficial, but some geographical concepts have been dug very deep, such as the geological formation of the Swabian Alb and the type of valleys. In the 5th grade, the geography of the world was only tied to geographical concepts, such as indicating the coordinates of certain cities. The geography of Germany was more detailed. Emphasis on geology and climate.

Here, I also cannot understand why it was necessary to spend about a month in total on the analysis of climate diagrams.


from 6th grade, 2 lessons per week

Classical beginning from the ancients. Plus, three lessons included presentations on the topics “me and my relatives”: show a family tree, tell about your great-grandmother / great-grandfather, tell about yourself.


4 lessons a week, girls and boys separately

Remember the Renaissance Man? He must also be an athlete. My son swimms, but he hasn’t any chances here.

There are about 6 different sports or exercises per year. For example, jumping rope, swimming, throwing, football, running, juggle the ball. The standards are insane, the boys who attend the football or handball clubs win, because there are just such exercises. For example, jump on a rope a certain number of times per minute with eight different types of jumps. Adults can’t handle it.

The grades largely depends on the adequacy of the teachers.


2 lessons per week

I kept wondering why there is no musical theory in music schools here. It was found in the gymnasium. They learn musical theory in the most detailed way, learn to play the flute. They explain everything very quickly, counting on children who already play the instrument. The rest of the kids – hello mom-tutor, do you want to learn how to play the flute?

The detail of the study of musical theory is outrageous. Why is it necessary to teach the names of notes cis´, cis´´ to those who have no ear for music and do not play any instrument? There is no textbook, no exercises book. I should look for materials on the Internet – at the same time, different gymnasiums give different basic knowledge, it is very difficult to guess the right ones.

The program is taken from the 19th century, when playing the instrument was compulsory from early childhood. And how for you the task of writing a song? And we should also play the flute, as if we practiced on it every day. And this nightmare will last until the 10th grade.

Art lessons

2 lessons per week

The first teacher was adequate, the tasks were varied – every week or two a new topic. The new teacher is an obvious fanatic, with a huge bag of art supplies to purchase.

All autumn long they make calligraphy, and the child is shaking from it. It ends with task “write and illustrate own horror book” (8 leaves A4). From other gymnasium I know the task “make 20 different styles pictures of mouse”.

Ethics / religion

Continuous blah blah blah, which does not in the least affect the moral qualities of children. I don’t know how much longer they will drag this anachronism along with them. Two whole lessons of pure waste of time.

Basic media knowledge

1 lesson per week in the 5th grade

Helpful, but too liitle. Internet, e-mail, PowerPoint presentations.


A classic neat and diligent girl with top grades and an excellent memory will feel comfortable in the gymnasium.

All non-standard people will have big problems – for example with health problems, with psychological problems, slow thinking. They don’t care about your problems. If you have a disability, they don’t care either.

Motivation in the gymnasium is lost instantly, since there is no task to preserve it, these are solely your problems.

Art, music and sports require mandatory abilities. Some teachers smooth the requirements, others don’t, as luck would have it. But especially sport always amazes me – do we train professional athletes or instill a love for a healthy lifestyle and sports? Sports in the gymnasium are more likely to be hostile to varying degrees. And by the way, specialized gymnasiums with a focus on sports, art or music also exist, so this fanaticism is completely inexplicable.

The amount of blunt learning by heart exceeds all limits. And since human memory has its limits and does not store unnecessary information, all this will be forgotten. And they don’t learn to think.

However, as you understand, the right ideal girls with musical and artistic abilities will not be enough even for one class, so they take what they have and instill in them the inability and unwillingness to study on their own, the ability to drift around the eternal grades 3-4. And the parents must feed private tutors. They also need something to eat.

Maybe it would be better to go to the real school? I don’t know. My son’s friend went to avoid getting this stress. As a result, for two years he studied in a class where only two children went to the real school, the rest to the Hauptshule. There was no training, he said.

Do you have any more questions? Use comments ⇓ or private communication form

And now attention: the correct answer

to the question, why do German children drop out of high education so often?

  • you gave them a lot of unnecessary information that was not related to the system, and most of this knowledge floated away
  • your talking heads without personal attitude do not arouse interest in children, so they end up with school subjects that go well, but have no interest in what is behind these subjects. Therefore, instead of studying normally at the institute, they are looking for interest first.
  • you haven’t taught them how to use books as a source of knowledge, there are always any worksheets.

My prescription would be:

  • reduce material to a reasonable. Google knows all this already
  • teach to analyze, teach a methods, not a huge mount of details
  • really practice basic skills
  • cut down on unnecessary lessons like religion, weekly class hour
  • make secondary school subjects secondary. there should be separate courses for talented people
  • change the indifferent attitude towards children and develop their individual abilities

Other school topics – #education in Germany.

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