I was fortunate to be part of a STEM study tour through TOP (Transatlantic Outreach Program), and spent two weeks traveling through Germany focusing on STEM education, policies, and systems. It was eye-opening!
Here are some of my takeaways from our first stop – the town of Esslingen (located just outside of Stuttgart):
The state of Baden-Württemberg (there are 16 states in Germany, which is about the size of Montana), finances a teaching academy, where teachers go to update their teaching skills. This facility is beautiful, with lots of windows and access to the outdoors. They even have wine vending machines. The purpose of the academy is to centralize training. Teacher voluntarily come during the school days (workshops can be 1-2 days), and are provided housing and meals. The training is seems to be very current; one workshop was titled “Using tablets in math class.” They don’t have any districts, which in the US often compete for training, teachers, and money.
We visited a Realschule, which is similar to age as our middle schools. This school is an open campus, with expectations that students act responsibly. (I will post more details later on the whole German education system). Backpacks are left outside classrooms, and there are not any hall monitors. And during their recess time I only saw one teacher on duty. The school is pretty much run by a principal, teachers, maintenance staff and cafeteria workers. They provide a lot of real life learning with group projects, STEM (MINT) academies, apprenticeships, and partnerships with business who run job fairs, business skills, career training, etc. (There are companies advertising for youth options in the hallways.) The teachers also work with students and parents to create individual profiles that spell out strengths and weaknesses that the student needs to work on to help them find a good job, like tardiness or communication skills, a lot of focus on education and careers. No wonder this state has around a 4% youth unemployment rate.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned as I post more about Germany!
– Evil Math Wizard