By Aurora Robinson
Bagpiper: Does your school offer any other languages?
Artjom Rubchinskiy: “As far as I know, all schools in Germany offer English as a mandatory subject. I live close to France, so French is also a subject here, though it’s optional and I know that a bunch of schools offer Italian and Spanish too.”
BP: Do you take any of the languages?
AR: “I’ve had English classes for almost eight years now, and I took French classes for two years.
BP: How many classes do you take a week?
AR: “15, all varying in length, but lasting up to three hours each and with about two to four a day.”
BP: What is the grading system like?
AR: “We use a numeral system, where one is equal to an A and six is equal to an F. Most grades are divided into four parts, attendance being one of them and showing how many classes you actually show up to. Your oral grade, [it is] dependant on how actively you participate in the class, and then the grade for your homework and how well you do on exams. All of these are added up and divided by four, and that makes your grade for the whole subject/class. This sounds pretty fair and balanced, but is often just an unfair mess.”
BP: What are the relationships between students and teachers like? Is it respected?
AR: “The higher of a grade you’re in, the more the teachers respect you. I think a lot of teachers are simply overworked and underpaid for dealing with a room full of misbehaving teens five days a week, but a lot of them also just aren’t quite made for the job. Many of them don’t listen to constructive criticism and disregard the needs of their students. Then again, of course there’s a large number of really great teachers here. Some of them really help guide our ways positively, and I’ve met many teachers I have nothing but respect for. Despite this, though, a lot of kids have a problem with authority, and this does not exclude the teachers.”
BP: Anything else to add about schools in Germany?
AR: “Most of Germany’s schools are free (so long as they aren’t private or universities) and pretty well managed and respected and a lot of them offer foreign exchange programs, additional language courses, clubs and some of them even have school psychologists. I’ve wanted to do a foreign exchange program with an American school for a long time, but never found the time to.”