Today we made our first visit to a German school. The German education system is VERY different from what we experience in the United States. In Germany, students are filtered into different middle and secondary schools based on their aptitude around the 4th grade. The best and brightest students go to Gymnasium, the middle of the road students go to the Realschule, and the lowest level students, special education, non-native Germans, and any "problem" students go to the Hauptschule.
We had the opportunity today to visit the best hauptschule in the area - Hauptschule Innenstadt. This particular school, though filled with the "lowest level" students, has won many awards and their band was even invited to the U.S. by the American Embassy to perform in New York.
This school was very small, around 250 students and 30 teachers. The students learn the normal subjects like German, Social Studies, Science, and English, as well as many vocational classes such as woodworking, home economics, sewing, art, drama, and music. The interesting thing that I noticed at this particular school was the pride the students took in their work.