Amok Mama: Are German schools systematically racist?



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I agree with some of the other people up here, and of course you can say anything on the internet, but you're not very credible - how can you advocate less segregation, when you're actively contributing to it? It seems you're the prejudiced one here. And admitting you're a hypocrite doesn't make it okay, it comes off as one of those dickish apologies that begin with "I'm sorry if I offended anyone, but..." when someone does something obnoxious, but then goes right on being obnoxious. Followed by 'But I'm just not gonna send him to a German state school. I just don't trust them' - trust yourself, you're the mom!, and then by 'I think being a schoolteacher in Germany must be really awful, you know?' - talk about gross generalizations!
And I'm not saying that there isn't a problem, it's just that this type of a discussion may not get us far.
(And we just moved here, and we're Mihigrus from the wrong side of Europe, and my kids are in public school, and my son has Fremdeutsch, and so far it's been okay, but maybe we're just lucky.)

Svetlana more than 8 years ago


it's just coz they're always whingeing about how hard it is in the media, that's why I think it must be really awful, they make it sound like it's worse than prositution or something

Jacinta Nandi more than 8 years ago

grow up with your kid ...

that's what I did. I did send my child, half Arab by the way, to a public German school (not without visiting more than one private place because I had the same prejudices that you cherish). Lots of other Bio-parents there (we are part of them, imagine that if you can ... now wait a minute ... are we talking about Bioladen Ökofood people or something like Genetics? I am talking about the first here.) All the German teachers were quite taken with our daughter, who had no problems whatsoever and even a few American classmates (or should I say Ammihigru in this case? I have to admit I am loosing track of all the pc speech and sorry, the f* word is not part of my Wortschatz really; not because it's bad but because it's fucking boring to pop it into every second sentence. For the reader, that is). By the way my offspring finished the six years of Grundschule is now in a public Gymnasium in ... Reinickendorf of all places, and there is just one bio-German boy ... genetics this time ...a few more Biogerman girls; the rest are from North Korea, China, Switzerland, Camerun, Poland, Hungary ... and yes, of course, Turkey, and Arabia or to be more precise Egypt, Syria and Jordan. And you know what? They are even taking Latin together ... because mihigru people can be quite ambitious for their kids even if it's least expected from them (and I think you should make an effort to meet them to change your outlook on them a bit. There are mihigru who manage to earn their living, and among those who don't there are still really nice and worthy people; I wonder where the racism really is here, if we must speak of it; in the system? The system is made by people, from within, but also from outside). The teachers, I have to say, expect the same from every child, and: they get it. It's not the Bio-German (genetics again) kids who are top of the class. I am afraid I am all for the public system and against segregation, because it's the only thing that works ... nothing to be afraid of, but something to strive for. Sorry if that's now a very German attitude, bio or not, I don't care.

Cora more than 8 years ago

Falling standards

Why should standards fall after including kids with learning difficulties and disabled children into classes? Let's look at Scandinavian countries that teach all children together and still get higher ranks in PISA tests. How do they do that? Obviously, there's a way to include all children and still get *higher* standards.

Chris Topf more than 8 years ago

I think

they'd fall a little.

Jacinta Nandi more than 8 years ago

teachers don't make schools

parents & children also contribute.

as a teacher's kid, i've see the range of 'pc' to racist behavior. pointing fingers at teachers and "systems" is classic blame avoidance from parents: both for their own behavior, and their kids. with social problems, more expectation is being placed on schools, often to feed, adequately clothe or mind children when parents drop the ball. i think this is similar with racist behavior. kids are mimicking parents and peer groups when they play these games and will often try out forms of behaviour with their peers which they have observed demonstrated at home or in family social circles.
only by addressing individual innappropriate behaviour, and teaching your kids to stand up for their values, can these 'anecdotes' be remedied. here's a shock: turkish kids can be racist too! should they removed from the school system? of course not. i think it's more important to teach kids and teachers proper channels for addressing anti-social forms of behavior, so that rather than sitting around kitchen tables, kneipe or online forums muttering about the world going to hell, people stand up to twisted behaviour and teach bigots that THEY are the exceptions. don't fall into the (sorry) german tendency to 'mind your own business' and draw the shutters, as long as your kids are safe in a pc school. stand up to bullies and set a positive example in society that kids and future teachers can follow. teachers can be reported, and while this may seem ineffectual, it's harder for a teacher with complaints to gwet a new position than say, priest or polizei… school boards and administrations are not untouchable, either. if enough reports are made against an administration, that administration will fall. also: not slagging amok mama here: sounds like your kid is clued up.

herr james more than 8 years ago

I think what..

... the OSG report said was that the tiered system, because it pre-judges lower class kids with uneducated parents, also makes it easier for teachers' - subconscious or conscious - racism to become part of the system. So the segregation - both classist and racist - is part of the system. The report also interviewed teachers who admitted this. As you said - and as the report also acknowledged - that was addressed in Berlin by getting rid of Hauptschulen, and they are starting to do a bit of the teacher brainwashing thing in training too. But on the whole it's too little and too slow because nationally it's not being seen as a real problem by politicians or the media. If anything, it's just being seen as a Berlin problem, which is why something is happening here.

Ben Knight more than 8 years ago

Systematic racism

I do actually wonder whether German schools aren't more classist than racist? Not towards Turks or Arabs of course, a Turkish kid with an IQ of approximately 1000 will still be seen with huge disapproval or distrust by your average German teacher (is my guess) but a Korean kid or a Russian kid with diplomat parents will be treated better than a German kid with a "modern" name or disorganized, punky parents. In that way, even though I think the German system is fairly racist, I feel like maybe it is unsolidarisch & also dishonest to focus on the racism???? I think it is AMAZING that German ppl accept this system. I think it's amazing. It seems to me to be like the opposite of what school is meant to do. But it seems like a lot of Germans are quite happy w. the system at the moment. It's amazing how many people think that kids called Kevin being discrimnated against is something maybe not totally acceptable but unavoidable, it boggles my mind. I also think it is a very inefficient way of running a country if you're gonna have a Minimumexistenz level,if you're gonna say, we are gonna pay for people if they can't earn their own living for the whole of their lives, not pay for them well, but pay for them enough, we're not gonna let them live in misery......then how the fuck can you acept having a system where you say These People Will Never Be Anything? Sometimes I wonder & I don't wanna sound American here but I wonder whether the relative generosity of the German social system has led to people not caring about wther underclass kids get out of poverty, because there's a social net to catch them anyways?

Jacinta Nandi more than 8 years ago

talk the talk, walk the walk

The personal is the political - try this:

Stop being a scaredy cat and take your kid out of private school (think of all the money and time you'll save), enroll him at a good inner-city primary school (they do exist). Write again in a year or two about schooling in Berlin, race and class. I can promise you'll think differently or at least you'll be able to talk about these things from a position of first hand knowledge.

Of course, I'm being facetious, it would be enormously disruptive and generally a bad idea to change schools but seeing the situation from the inside might make you start to see some shades of grey rather than just black and white. For example there are many:

-Middle class Biodeutsche who send their kids to inner-city schools with high numbers of Mihigru (sic?) kids
-Mihigru parents who send their kids to private schools or who move to the suburbs to avoid all the 'bad' inner-city kids
-Mihigru teachers and Erzieher/innen who do an excellent job
-Caring, hardworking headteachers who do their best by all their students

There are many things wrong with education in Berlin and Germany but sending kids to private schools can't be the answer can it? (that really is segregation). The state education system is changing and improving (slowly but these things don't happen overnight). What doesn't seem to be changing is the tone of most media articles around the subject. A bit more calm assesment of what really is happening, first hand knowledge and positive focus would be really welcome. Maybe someone at Exberliner whose kids actually go to one of these 'dangerous, racist' schools could write an article?

Christopher Dwight more than 8 years ago

Yeah I know

I'm a fucking pussy. And a huge hypocrite. But I'm just not gonna send him to a German state school. I just don't trust them. And I do think there are probably loads of
Middle class Biodeutsche who send their kids to inner-city schools with high numbers of Mihigru (sic?) kids
-Mihigru parents who send their kids to private schools or who move to the suburbs to avoid all the 'bad' inner-city kids
-Mihigru teachers and Erzieher/innen who do an excellent job

-Caring, hardworking headteachers who do their best by all their students

But I am not trusting them with my kid, man. I know it's really unsolidarisch - my parents are really pissed off with me - but I can't do it. He went to this really trendy-wendy ultra-PC Kindergarten & they still ate N*gerküsse & sang the 3 Chinesen song.

I think being a schoolteacher in Germany must be really awful, you know? Like, I would NOT want to do it. I really wouldn't. But, fuck, man, am I glad I didn't grow up here. I would not have made it to uni had I grown up in this country. Not because of my Migrationshintergrund, just coz I was a mouthy cunt. I think the whole concept of the teachers deciding who is university material and who isn't is slightly sick. And I don't think the children of punks or alkies do any better than Turkish or Arabic kids

Jacinta Nandi more than 8 years ago

Racism in German schools

Jacinta , this should be published in German in like Der Spiegel or something and then they should put you on tour wirh Malala!

Laurie more than 8 years ago

I wish

you worked for Spiegel

Jacinta Nandi more than 8 years ago

and why no german version of intensive ESL?

Great article. The primary school my sister went to in Toronto had probably an 80% Ausländeranteil - most of the kids didn't speak English at home - but this was totally not a problem, not only because Canadian schools are less systematically racist, but because any kid whose English was weak when they started school was sent to intensive ESL and stayed there until their English was at native speaker level. Problem solved, no stigma, no long-term disadvantage for kids with a Migrationshintergrund - you meet plenty of students at Canadian universities who spent grade 1 in ESL. I was shocked when I realized after many years in Germany that they don't do this in the German school system - they just let kids go through the whole system with weak German, because, hey, why invest resources in small-brained Gastarbeiter kids?

I mean, of course bourgeois Kreuzberg parents don't want to send their kids to schools where most of the kids have weak German skills - a school can only function if the students are fluent in the language of instruction. Then the German press just bashes the bourgeois parents who don't want to send their kids to dysfunctional schools, instead of focusing on why the schools are dysfunctional. Nothing will get better until Germans get it through their big superior brains that their educational system has a responsibility to ensure that EVERY SINGLE CHILD who goes through that system can speak, read and write native-speaker German.

The Germans need to take a long, hard look at other countries that are actually competent at being immigration societies, and notice that in those countries e.g. a high Ausländeranteil doesn't mean a school sucks, and start doing some of the things those other countries are doing.

Kat more than 8 years ago

Blunt and honest

I whole-heartedly agree with most of what you say - the German twin scourge of bluntness and honesty, definitely. My husband falls into this category and he (and others of the bluntness school of human relationships) prides himself on being honest at all costs, no matter what the fallout for the poor people he's being honest AT might be. It's a German scourge, don't ask me where it comes from.

What I also think plays a big role is how little exchange there is among "Biodeutsche" and "Migrationshintegrundler". I don't live in Berlin, maybe it's different there, but where I live people seem to stick to their own - Biodeutsche rarely meet or socialize with anybody who's not, and I suppose vice versa. So people do not really know a lot about the other group, especially the Biodeutsche. So there is no real perception of Migrationsdeutsche as individuals, but more as members as a group. So prejudices abound.

susan more than 8 years ago

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