The education system in Germany
The school system in Germany does not differ much from state to state. The majority of subjects and lesson hours are very similar and often just use different descriptions of subjects and a different structure of the timetable. In high schools, the students usually need to attend Math, Sports, English, German, History, Chemistry, Physics, Ethics or Religion, a third language, which depends on the schools requirements (French, Latin, Russian…), Biology, Arts, Music and a fourth language or a scientific manual subject. Two years before the A levels (10th and 11th Grade), the students can decide to keep subjects or leave them and can add new subjects such as economy, philosophy, literature, etc. But not every school can provide those subjects. The terms for which and how many subjects the students have to select, which and how many they can vote out, depends on every state.
How often do we students criticize the topics we learn in Math? How often do we question the use of learning certain subjects? But this time, there is no criticism about what we learn, but rather, about what we do not learn, but need to learn and know nothing about.
“I am almost 18 and I have no clue about taxes, rents and assurances. But I can write a poem analysis. In four languages”. A 17 year old German student named Naina posted this on the 10th of January on Twitter. After lots of people shared this on Twitter, it quickly became very popular in the media (Facebook, Twitter, television) and then slowly found its way to publicity. A sign of the potency of modern media, and what deep impact two sentences can have. Finally, the government began a debate about implementing an economy-related
subject, which should prepare the students to the future tasks they will need to fulfill as adults.
Sigmar Gabriel, the minister of Economics, from the SPD party started to complain about the lack of understanding of Economy in schools and urged to the implementation of the subject in all high schools over Germany. His opinion is that this “economic” subject should prepare you for the future and that we should discuss the imposed necessity of languages like Latin or Greek and compare them to, for example, a programming language, which could be more important for a student’s future. He also said that he was lucky to have had the opportunity to study economics at school. The implementation is currently planned in Baden-Württemberg, which should, by the initiative of the innovation fabric, encourage the economic and technological appreciation.
Even the Minister of Education, Johanna Wanka (partisan of the CDU) voiced her approval of the tweet by Naina, and agreed that the daily skills should be more conveyed. But she still believes the notion that poem interpretations are necessary and should not be replaced.
But just after one month, the discussion in the government and news disappeared and nobody from the government came up with a right solution, although they could see how many students approved of Naina´ opinion. Perhaps it is because of the Ukraine conflict or the demonstrations going on in Germany, but nevertheless, we should stay focused on this issue and acknowledge that implemented economic subjects in all high schools will not change our problem.
Samira, a grade 10 student in Baden-Württemberg, the north of Germany, is in the same situation. Thinking that there is so much to learn that it would not fit in the normal economic subject curriculum, she suggested that it would be the best to create a new “economics for life“subject.
Kerstin from the capital Berlin, who is in her penultimate year at school, discussed this topic in her English class. In her and her classmates’ opinion, those topics are much more essential for life than the subject of Physics or certain calculations in Math.
Michael, a student in Sachsen, the east of Germany, says that they have an economic subject, but they just learn about the economic strategies and markets. When students asked the teacher if they would learn how to write a tax declaration and other things that would prepare them for their future life, their teacher told them that they would never learn this in their entire school life.
We have the potential!
Adults have survived without any of this “economics subject”, but that does not mean that it was not difficult for them. Do they not want to prepare us for the future? We are the future and with the increasing number of business-related jobs and new laws, our lives are becoming more and more complex. It is their responsibility to change it and the youth’s responsibility to draw attention to this very significant issue.
A good solution, in my opinion, would be to offer an extracurricular activity, which teaches students what they need to know to be functional, as adults, in the society. Students shouldn’t just gain scientific and linguistic knowledge for jobs, but also domestic knowledge in managing their life. Topics such as where to go when searching for an apartment, how to register for health insurance or what to do with a tax declaration are all vital in our adult lives, yet are not being taught. Students should make use of their power of influence by voicing their opinions like Naina or by peaceful demonstrating and should not get suppressed by adults, who have the power to decide about OUR education. It doesn’t matter if the government or school does not support you in your educational interests, take the initiative and make the difference!