I (f) am 33 years old and work as a German and History teacher in a grammar school in Germany, which, named after a famous German writer, specializes in languages. Sounds great, but it actually means nothing. The school is hardly different from any other, apart from maybe the technology facilities. In every unassuming room hangs a Smart board, which many of my older colleagues can't get to grips with. The boards can't be used without the technology, so if the technology fails, the teaching is pure improvisation. What's the use in all this apparently helpful technology and the Net books for IT classes? This school is in a sink estate. I have nothing against foreign pupils or students from poorer backgrounds, but even the younger years take a dim view of learning. Nobody wants to do homework, study, or even just listen, let alone take part. The higher up the school you go, the percentage of students who have to repeat a year increases. I have to answer questions like "what does reinforce mean?" coming from 16 year-olds. Recently, a girl in year 8 asked if Europe was a continent!
I am driven to despair by my job. The parents shift the blame onto the teachers for bad grades, the teachers lose their drive, and each year, the students get more and more stupid. They know how to use the Smart board, but they have no idea whether the Weimar Republic (which was a liberal democratic republic in Germany) was a dictatorship or not. Once, I was so pissed off, that I threw a piece of cucumber at a pupil. I was extremely embarrassed, but it was generally assumed that I was joking. I just can't see why I should waste my time preparing an interesting, varied lesson for a bunch of primitive apes that aren't capable of concentrating for more than five seconds. So this is what I have done, although it upsets me, because I didn't study for years to do this: have intentionally become every pupil's nightmare. I give out homework every day; I force the children to stand up when I come into the classroom. As soon as anyone speaks out of turn, that pupil goes straight outside and gets a "D" whoever hasn't finished their essay or presentation gets a letter to their parents. I know that instilling fear isn't the best way to teach, but lately it has been wonderfully quiet. I carefully read finished homework without getting into a fuss. I think I'll carry on torturing the pupils a while longer, and when they have internalized their good behaviour, I will be a bit more lenient. When I was at school, I liked those teachers most, and I learnt best from them.
Posted on 27.02.2013, 05:18:24 CET