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  #21  
Old 13.11.2011, 23:24
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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everything of value is externaly marked... peer reviewed (double marking is not uncommon) and with a central board visiting regularly ensuring that everything is in order. Oh and students know what criteria they are being marked against.

In australia it gets even crazier... Students names are replaced by numbers, double marking, students know what criteria they are being marked against, observation by heads of department and the fact that students arent stupid. if they suspect it enough they will savage you. OH and the Professional of the Australian Teaching pool (baised, i am one of them :-P)
What is "everything of value"? Are you talking about standardized tests or all home work? I'm really curious, but I guess it's an irrelevant question on this thread.
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  #22  
Old 13.11.2011, 23:30
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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What is "everything of value"? Are you talking about standardized tests or all home work? I'm really curious, but I guess it's an irrelevant question on this thread.
i can answer it briefly. standardised test are externally marked, naturaly. But the final leaving certificate in year 12 (17,18y/o) is made up of two parts. course work and an exam. 50% of the grade is generated by course work in the course of the final and the other 50% generated by an external exam. the final 50% is used to control the grades given by the teachers. for an example if the teacher is a soft marker (very rare) and the students (as a group) subsequently peform badly in the exam their course work mark is reduced.

the reason soft marking is rare is because it fails to prepare students for the exams. and if your class performs poorly you will have an uncomfortable meeting with the principle.

These scores are used to a generate university enterance score so EVERYONE is serious about it...to the point of almost insanity. so if you are fooling around here your job becomes very difficult.
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  #23  
Old 14.11.2011, 02:12
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

Before I make a fool out of myself guessing about things I don't know, can anybody here say what are the general requirements for Swiss to be admitted to universities? What subjects do they have to do well in, and what (if any) are the language requirements?

Last edited by eddiejc1; 14.11.2011 at 02:59.
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  #24  
Old 14.11.2011, 14:32
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

There are several different types of Matura, which allows for a slight (very slight) focus on the things you are good at. Back in the 90ies, when I was at Gymnasium, the Type B (with Latin) had the following subjects (those in bold are counted double and were allocated four hours of lessons per week each):
  • German
  • French
  • Latin
  • Mathematics
  • A choice of either English or Italian (I picked Italian)
  • History
  • Biology
  • Art or Music (both in the first year, then you choose one)
  • three hours of P.E.
  • Chemistry (from the fourth term onwards)
  • Physics (from the second year onwards)
  • Geography
  • The option of additional Classical Greek, Spanish or Russian
You have to have an average grade of at least 4 over all the subjects, with 1.5 grade points being allowed to go below four if it is for various subjects or 2 points if it is just one (maths for me). Of course, as soon as you have both maths and physics, you are a bit screwed if you are bad at science stuff. My average was always around 4.7 although I had a doubly counted 2 in maths.

The grading system is roughly as follows: if an exam has 20 possible points, then only 20 points will get you a 6 (highest mark), 16 gets you a 5, 12 gets you a 4 and anything below that is a fail. Teachers are perfectly happy for nobody in the class to get full marks, unlike in the UK, where the highest mark is often set where the best student has set the bar. At first year university exams, I have been in exams where 36 out of 36 got you a 6 and 26 was where you still passed, the rest was a fail. 60-65% of students fail in the first year (in the popular subjects).

So when a Swiss kid tells you they have a 5.75 average for their Matura, you should be VERY impressed, I only know about half a dozen people who have a 6 average in their Matura, whereas they hand out triple/quadruple 'A' A-levels quite a lot in the UK.

ETA: Just ignore the random empty bullet point...
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Old 14.11.2011, 15:11
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

Thanks Kittster for the details Very helpful (Can't thank as I am a newbie).

Coming for a very different cultural and schooling background, I was always impressed with the Swiss schooling system. Actually I find kids here more engaged in school then a traditional US/UK system (I think they have great University and higher education system though). Kids in early age (till 3rd grade) are doing lot of maths practise, reading (good story books and online test on those books for fun), writing. I see that kids was wanting to do it themselves. Math skills of an average 3rd grader is reasonable good. So much of reading also helps and builds nice habits in kids. Reading social stories is also not that bad.

I think what is needed from the parents side is to accept that you are in different place. Don't compare is to how you did it. You did it couple of decades back and it is not same back home as well. Another thing is where you did it. So if you were in US, Singapore or China system off course is but different. You can't compare it. When you are in office you have adapted your mind. In cafeteria you don't expect rice or noodle. Supermarkets are are different so why not school.

Give your child some time, support him/her a bit, try to talk to teacher more often, give feedback to your kids (positively) and above all have faith in system as well. It is not that US or UK are producing much brighter kids because of a much better education system. I strongly believe that kids these days are very smart. You just need to trust them as well as the system.

If it needs minor tweaking then do that. I find that Swiss schooling system allows for that by having extra classes in language and teachers are extremely cooperative and take their job very seriously.
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  #26  
Old 14.11.2011, 20:35
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

At primary school in the UK, one of my younger brother's school mates had real problems with his literacy skills - he was forever being kept in at playtime for not getting high enough marks on his spelling tests and other failure to perform to standard. My brother happened to mention it to my mum who was a remedial teacher - so she called his friend's mum and got her to have him assessed etc and get him the right help.

Because of his literacy problems, the teachers at the school would continually write him off as just thick. Also, if you talked to him, he had a very slow and deliberate way of speaking which meant if you met him, you would think he had low IQ.

When he got into secondary school, it turned out he was a gifted mathematician and he went on to get A-levels, and into one of the good Universities and ended up doing a PhD.

Had be been around under the old 11-plus system, my brother's friend would have ended up in a Secondary Modern school and it would be far less likely that he would have pursued such an academic career.

The point being, we all have talents in some areas and weaknesses in others and it does our children an absolute disservice to write them off because they happen not to perform at one particular subject. The education systems of the world appear to be geared towards telling people they are failures instead of helping them to identify their particular talents and to build on them.

Myself, I was alright at academic subjects but hopeless at art and craft subjects. I can't draw for toffee and my efforts at woodwork were nothing more than a waste of trees.

I was lucky enough to be going to secondary school at a time when kids were encouraged to take up a musical instrument and the school was very active with having various bands you could join once you could play a few notes. Also the drama teacher was very active and there were school productions every half year or so where kids were encouraged not just to act but to help out backstage with things like scenery, lighting, sound etc.

On the face of it, such skills may appear to be useless in today's technological and industrial society, but I think they are essential as they encourage creativity - which is exactly what I think our children are going to need.

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Old 14.11.2011, 20:45
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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... unlike in the UK, where the highest mark is often set where the best student has set the bar...
sorry that is wrong. In Australia, New Zealand and in the UK students are marked to outcomes, if you achieve all the outcomes you get full marks, if you go above the outcomes assessed you still get full marks.

It is incredible, if you do what the teacher wants you to do you get full marks! *shocking!*
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Old 15.11.2011, 03:33
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

Thank you very much Kittster, and I hope you don't mind one more question. Are those criteria the same for all Swiss universities? The reason I ask is that I suspect that for most Swiss outside Ticino, if you had to study either English or Italian, they would choose English. (I do note from your post that you chose Italian.)

Now over 90% of Swiss speak either German or French as their native language, but I can understand if the University of Lugano (USI) might want to change the emphasis in the requirements you mentioned. In other words, Italian would count double and students have to choose between French and English. (I don't know if it means anything, BTW but USI's web site is in Italian and English---no German or French.)

Regardless of whether that is the case or not, it sounds like college students in Switzerland have not only better grades but a much more rounded education than Americans. I am very impressed!
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Old 15.11.2011, 07:12
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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Thank you very much Kittster, and I hope you don't mind one more question. Are those criteria the same for all Swiss universities? The reason I ask is that I suspect that for most Swiss outside Ticino, if you had to study either English or Italian, they would choose English. (I do note from your post that you chose Italian.)
It's possible to choose Italian over English anywhere in Switzerland. A teacher friend of mine chose Italian in this case because she refuses to even consider learning English. She's probably in the minority (tiny weeny minority) but had the choice nonetheless.

I think the choice is mainly there for those Swiss students who already speak English through, for example, being bilingual. In the case of my friend, she's just an odd fish...
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Old 15.11.2011, 09:46
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

And, on top of that, not all Gymnaziums are the same, with the same success rates, way of work, etc etc. Despite the previous posts, it is not yet so standardized, it is getting there, though.

Since I am one of the Matura examiners, it is so interesting to see how differently the kids are prepared for individual Matura exams, it is often up to the subject teachers to make up their own requirements, too, which would be unheard of in systems I used to teach in before. The mode of work set by the teacher in the years that lead up to the Matura and attitude of kids is what influences how successful the kid will be at the final exam, it always shows up at the final grading.

Again, just like in the situation with early streaming, basically, it is all about being informed how the system works so you can drill and outsource support (which certainly is there) when you still have enough time, and scout out the options in case you fail.

The levels of difficulty in different types of Maturas also have massive impact, kids choose either Gymnase with uni prospect laters, or go for trade school with Apprenticeship set up with Maturite Professionel, and that exam is harder, with a lot more practical view and already geared towards the particular choice of trade.

I prep both types of kids in my classes, and in order to push their chances higher, they often need serious info boot camp. Suprises me that loads of them don't really get the info before they reach High School level, due to all sorts of reasons. It is not really about having enough time to cram, though, since the exams are not that difficult, it is about having the correct information as soon as one can. I also think it is parental responsibility, amongst others who play role in edu.

The brochures are there, click on the individual Gymnase site that's located in your area, you can see the requirements for Tests d'admissions, which will give you an idea what is required to be admitted, and then you can check out the CH edu server, there will be pdf files with Matura explanations, types, etc. The departments of education in each individual commune, the cantonal sites of edu in my experiences were always helpful, and sometimes more up to date than the actual schools. To influence how a school works takes time, just like to install some kind of quality control over teacher's work here.

The system is fairly flexible, and it is getting more. More you know about it, more you realize it is not the A or B option and then you are doomed. It is fairly sophisticated to suit the situation on domestic market. It is getting more and more compatible with the rest of the world, counts on people's mobility, within Switzerland and abroad. The timing of having correct info does influence your career here, though. If you have it, apply yourself (and I am not questioning the route vs critical thinking problem right now), get ready and follow the course work, you make it just fine. The languages are granted, though, a must.
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Old 15.11.2011, 11:19
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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1 in 4 teachers (or thereabouts) has this weird idea about top grades. ...
hey, cool. I got groaned for this by Crofty. I guess he or she is one of those with the weird idea.

While getting a Gymnasium Matura is a ticket to university - and the usual criterion for getting into EU universities - it is still possible to get a degree without going to University. This was something I didn't appreciate initially.

What I also didn't get was that the higher you go in the education system, the better/more skilled the apprenticeships on offer.

While it definitely has its downsides, which appear to being addressed, the Swiss system does seem to work. Whereas I specialised at 16, my son, in Gymnasium had a broad range of subjects. I think that has given him probably a better start in life in general, than I got.
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Old 15.11.2011, 11:25
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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What I also didn't get was that the higher you go in the education system, the better/more skilled the apprenticeships on offer.
This is absolutely true. You can also pull off apprenticeship while in Gymnase or beign a student at Uni, simultaneously. And, those can be also in totally deifferent careers, too.
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Old 15.11.2011, 13:58
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

I have a question on admission to Gymnasium please. I have read that there is a quota for kids to enter after 6th grade Primary and again after 2nd and 3 rd year of Secondary school. I believe the total quota Swiss wide is around 15% but in Zurich it is actually 35%, is that correct and if so, how can the quota for other cantons be discovered? Also how is the total intake broken down at the 3 points for entry, is it evenly 5% each time or slanted in favour of earlier entry?
Thank you for any info.
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Old 15.11.2011, 16:49
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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I have a question on admission to Gymnasium please. I have read that there is a quota for kids to enter after 6th grade Primary and again after 2nd and 3 rd year of Secondary school. I believe the total quota Swiss wide is around 15% but in Zurich it is actually 35%, is that correct and if so, how can the quota for other cantons be discovered? Also how is the total intake broken down at the 3 points for entry, is it evenly 5% each time or slanted in favour of earlier entry?
Thank you for any info.
Conctact your cantonal center (commune) for secondary education, see example for my canton here. They will let you know about the quotas (they should, mine would. Arrange an appointment for this).

For the points, contact you cantonal Gymnase, that has been chosen this year to take care of the admission testing (making and administering those tests). Each year itmight be a different Gymnase, ours has been pretty consistently one.
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Old 15.11.2011, 23:32
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

Have spoken to many people who have had extremely difficult experiences with the local school system - although this depends very much on the location and the teacher. The school system is very old fashioned, streams years earlier than other countries which limits opportunities, and teaches that there is only one way to do things.
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Old 16.11.2011, 00:10
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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I have a question on admission to Gymnasium please. I have read that there is a quota for kids to enter after 6th grade Primary and again after 2nd and 3 rd year of Secondary school. I believe the total quota Swiss wide is around 15% but in Zurich it is actually 35%, is that correct and if so, how can the quota for other cantons be discovered? Also how is the total intake broken down at the 3 points for entry, is it evenly 5% each time or slanted in favour of earlier entry?
Thank you for any info.
This "quotas" you refer to, are not actually quotas, but just the fraction of kids you attend Gymnasium. In rural area the percentage of kids who choose to do an apprenticeship despite meeting the requirements to attend Gymnasium is higher then in urban Cantons. Thus the fraction of students in gymnasium is higher in Zürich, then the Swiss average.

Generally it are the marks of a student which decide whether he or she may attend Gymnasium or not.
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Old 16.11.2011, 14:37
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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And that gave you a comprehensive overview of the swiss education system? So they don't teach 8 year olds to write and calculate where you're coming from? What do they do then if taking care of a dog is too trivial? Plan a mission to Mars?
Surely with Swiss efficiency they should be able to give a complete overview in less than 30 minutes.

Oh I know it all came out wrong, I just needed to vent. Thanks to everyone that's responded it's given me so much more information to think about. I will offer a little more background though and my perspective a week on....

This is my second child and I have attended lots of parent evenings both in the UK and CH. I've done some research into the education system here but not vast amounts. I know the teaching methods here can and do work but I still find some aspects go against the methodologies and good practice that I encountered when I trained to be a teacher. I left teaching after qualifying because I was very young and inexperienced in 'the ways of the world'. I felt that I would be a better teacher if I gained a little experience of life outside the education system. I haven't yet returned to teach Mathematics to 11-16 year olds because I found that I was a much better administrator within education settings than I was a teacher, I also found the pay to hours worked ratio much better.

I know that my lack of German language has meant that I've not fully understood everything that was said that evening. I have no problem with handwriting lessons that allow individuality, adjustment of styles to fit pupil and pen and that the cursive script flows from the printed letters taught at the beginning (I've not found this to be the case here, I prefer Sasson infant font that has tails or exit strokes that really help with cursive writing later on).

My son was taught schnurlischrift here and he finds it painfully difficult and it's often difficult to read. He was sent to Psychometric therapy to help him with this penmanship. Finally his teacher has said that he can use another style but after 4 years of using schnurlischrift he is finding changing his style a challenge. So I guess on deeper level my reaction was probably based on not wanting to see another child go through this.

As for the the rote learning in mathematics. My degree was in Mathematics and Education and I feel that understanding and having multiple methods to find solutions is much more important than speed. Speed will come with practice but not everyone can compute at speed in there heads but it doesn't mean that their understanding is not on an equal or superior level to those that can. But if they want speed we'll work on that too at home. I endeavour to support both my child and their teacher but I will seek to further understand and possibly challenge methods of teaching if appropriate. I hope that as a family my children will challenge what a teachers says but in a constructive and respectful way. I couldn't do that last week because of my lack of language skills and hence I vented here.

And as for animal care..............Of course there are many things that can be learnt through caring for a dog but the experience so far of the work done in M und U is that it's not well integrated into the rest of their learning activities And truth be told I was probably a little sensitive about the topic as there is almost constant family discussions about getting a dog. Sorry I'm not a dog or pet person and I know that I'd be the one that would end up doing the looking after etc...but that's another thread.

And why not plan a mission to mars. Just think of all the wonderful topics you touch on through that. Thanks for the inspiration I could do something like this with my kids at home, there are ways to teach even basic maths and the stories they could write and history of aeronautics and the social isolation aspects and a trip to the planetarium and........
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Old 16.11.2011, 22:43
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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If access to higher education is your criteria of succes, you are right - but what access to what higher to what education ? Big questions there that are not as easy to answer as you seem to think. Yet another cultural difference for you to cope with.
Swiss do fine, also the ones in higher education. If you are not sure whether your child will be able to get to a Swiss university, think twice before blaming anybody.

And frankly, if you prefer the English system, go for it.



In languages, a colleague of mine uses French GCSE material in her beginner's class. Quod erat demonstrandum.
You are making a lot of assumptions in your reply. Firstly, I responded to your comparison to a different education system because I don’t agree with your statement. And I can quite understand that it is a bit of a culture shock and maybe the OP has a valid point regardless of cultural differences. Personally I like big questions.

Your comment that this is "yet another cultural difference for you to cope with", just to be clear, I have been a Swiss citizen (and resident) for the past 28 years, so I am very well integrated but that is not to say that I agree or like all aspects of life here. As an active participant in Swiss society, I have been a member of the elternlobby for many years elternlobby.ch/deutsch/ so I do try to make informed opinions.

You say the Swiss do fine. That is except for the 5,000 or so Swiss children who leave school early?
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http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/schweiz/...story/12207569

This is part of the wider debate about education in Switzerland that is now hopefully being addressed seriously. You may like to have a quick look at the recent news item.
Schweizer Bildungspolitik schneidet schlecht ab

http://www.videoportal.sf.tv/video?i...2-968c294a9cd4

Your last point was just a cheap shot and you tried to launch into a very personal attack. I know that using humiliation has been a popular tool for some members of the teaching profession, shame on them! The following article shocked me a bit I must admit, it must be a cultural thing!
Eltern in Küssnacht empört: Lehrer liess schlechte Schüler ausbuhen


http://www.bote.ch/page/newsticker/i...Ressort=region




Finally, not everyone has the financial mean to choose alternative systems.
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  #39  
Old 16.11.2011, 22:53
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

Having neat handwriting is important as quite a few of my uni exams involved an hour of fast writing with the knowledge that the person correcting the exam was not going to take pains over trying to read what I wrote if it was messy and what you can't read doesn't get you marks. Same for my brother who did an apprenticeship, he had to hand in hand-written reports quickly and part of why he was fired from his apprenticeship is that he could not write legible reports. Schnürlischrift is much faster to write once you have the hang of it and it's a useful skill whenever you want to write something meaningful - you can put your words into a form that looks as beautiful as its content deserves.
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Old 16.11.2011, 22:53
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Re: Education System Culture Shock

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"Without languages" ?? You apparently think that the system here is giving too much points to languages, while I think the system is far too much mathematics-etc oriented. I once tried to get towards the Matura but crashed as languages were/are my forte, but mathematics and geometry have always been my weak sides. The problem rather is that they right from the start try to reduce the number of people aspiring for the matura and so, when the students are good, simply raise the barrier, in order to phase out a fixed percentage
I used languages to demonstrate a point, it could have been the other way around. I did say core subjects, which I thought was self explanatory, my mistake. That was exactly my point, I feel that Switzerland is not making the most of the potential of children, what a waste and can we afford to be complacent about it. I totally agree with you that they try and reduce the number of students entering higher education by continually raising the bar.
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