Friday, October 7, 2011

A Guide to Surviving the Austrian School System

The school where I work has the best reputation in all of Klagenfurt and families from all over Kaernten send their children to Europagymnasium. What is so special? 1. It is known as a language school. By the time students graduate they are expected to have intimate knowledge of German, French, and English. They are also given a healthy dose of Latin. In their final three years students have the choice to add yet another language…choosing between Italian, Russian, Spanish, or Slovenian. 2. There are special tracks of classes, known as the EU classes, where all of the subjects with the exception of Math and German are taught in English. Students are given a test before entering the school and those that score a certain percentage are assigned to these special tracks. 3. As one of my colleagues, cheerfully informed me, most of the well-to-do students end up at this school…any aristocracy, future princes, extremely wealthy…odds are they go to Europagymnasium.

Now, how does one go about surviving in such an institution?
Rule 1: Always address your teacher as “Frau Professor, “ or “Herr Professor,” accordingly
Rule 2: Stand when the teacher enters the room and remain standing until the teacher allows you to return to your seats.
Rule 3a: Always do your homework
Rule 3b: Keep all materials for class in your backpack and never forget to bring your materials to class.
Rule 4: Hausschuhepflicht! Always wear your slippers inside the school
Rule 5: Erase the chalkboard before the next class
Rule 6: Eat and drink in between classes, while waiting for the next teacher to arrive.
Rule 7:Take advantage of any longer break to go outside, run to the store around the corner to buy some cigarettes and then stand around on street corners.
Rule 8: Forget rules number 3-5. They were more like guidelines anyway.

Rule 1: Find your assigned spot in the teacher’s lounge, which is filled with long tables. Each person is assigned a certain chair at the table, that is your “teacher’s desk.” Never take someone else’s spot.
Rule 2: Always assign students homework, the more, the better.
Rule 3: Switch classes, but don’t hurry from class to class. Stop to chat to someone on the way.
Rule 4: If you are sick, then the class will A. be combined with another class of the same subject, B. another teacher will step in to teach the lesson, C. another subject will be taught in place of your subject, or D. the class is given a study hall
Rule 5: Don’t check on noisy classes. If no teacher appears it is the students’ responsibility to knock on the door of the teacher’s lounge and let the other teachers know.
Rule 6: Go out on the secret balcony during breaks to enjoy a smoke.

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