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  #61  
Old 17.12.2010, 23:01
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Re: Backward Step

Agreed - but truly don't think it is generally the case that teachers 'force' students into courses which are unsuitable for them, and 'beneficial' only to the country's statistical 'needs'. Being devil's advocate and all that - in the UK we have the other extreme, with lots of kids doing GCSE's. A'Level and Degrees, in subjects where VERY few will ever have a career. 2 extremes - with varied successes and casualties along the way.

(Please don't take offence either of you but advice is a noun and advise is a verb).

btw Phos, what and where was your educational experience as a kid (so I can understand better). Thanks.

Last edited by Odile; 17.12.2010 at 23:38.
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Old 17.12.2010, 23:21
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Re: Backward Step

Offence not taken, I have warned often enough about my bad English.

The good thing about the Swiss and German system is that teachers are honnest with academic achievements far earlier than in UK or international system. Even in France, they all get a free ride until 3ème de collège, like grade 9 middle school. One may argue that academic achievement are not a good criteria for making career decision... I let you argue and convince our readers of such a theory.

In each country, student hit the wall at different stages. The later they hit the wall of their academic limitations, the harder it hits. And in CH, we have students in Gymnasium who spent time in apprenticeship before. There are some "bridges" between weiterbildenden Schulen and Gym - even though not enough and hard to get. With excellent grades, you can switch from professional to gymnasium school. But it is based on grades, so it's the hard way.

And anyway, the Swiss obsession with apprenticeship is exactly doing what you want school to do: take the real talents seriously and deal with it at middle school level instead of pushing it to high school without real educational plans. And frankly, chances are high that the ex-apprentices get better paid jobs earlier in their lives than university geniuses.

Once again: Gymnasium vs Apprenticeship is NOT a class issue, it is NOT a social segregation at all. It is a pragmatic and honnest deal with real students in their diversity. Does not always work and some individual cases are subject to reflection a posteriori, but it definitly stands the comparaison with the rest of the world.
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Old 18.12.2010, 00:08
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Re: Backward Step

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The effectiveness of the system will judge itself. As it is, we have many job openings at work, yet no Swiss candidates to fill them. They aren't educated for this kind of work, so we have to bring in people from all over the world.
In my area (Vaud) there's the same issue, but I think the reason for it is that the tax and education administrations are out of step. In the last 5-10 years there has been a HUGE push by the Vaud authorities to 'bribe' multinationals to relocate here by offering bespoke corporate tax packages.

These are staffed by large numbers of middle to high-end managers and directors, most of whom are in their late 30s-40s, all of whom need to be fluent English communicators. It's hardly the education system's fault that it didn't psychically foresee this enormous demand when educating Swiss kids in the 1980s/90s.

I do think they need to get their administrative story straight on this, to stop obsessing about German with the current kids and streaming them accordingly. Surely English-speaking kids who are strong in science, engineering, technology, etc are much employable in the coming years and decades than ones that can speak good German and turn out a marvellous History essay.
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Old 18.12.2010, 00:21
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Re: Backward Step

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The good thing about the Swiss and German system is that teachers are honnest with academic achievements far earlier than in UK or international system.
The UK is incredibly annoying about this - my son's early primary teachers were constantly trotting out the line that they 'never compare' the children. Nonsense, of course they do; they just don't tell the parents.

And the knots they tie themselves in to arrange the kids into literacy/ numeracy ability groups, but invisibly: Red and Blue Tables, Oak and Elm groups, etc. And yet my son would regularly announce 'I'm on Blue table for maths now and Josh is on the Red table, because I'm better at maths than he is, but he's on Green table for Spellings because he's on Sheet 4 instead of 3...'

Most of my son's teachers here give the child's mark in a particular test, plus the class average mark. I find it a really useful tool for whether we should be panicking more or can relax a little!
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Old 18.12.2010, 00:42
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Re: Backward Step

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But I admit one thing very openly about that topic: Swiss schools do not consider parents as competent to judge professional abilities of teachers...
You put it very diplomatically, I wouldn't be..it does boil down to resonable and unreasonable superiors, it seems in my experience. Somewhere the reasonable profs are not heard and supported, and the unreasonable do have too much power over kids lives, for whatever reasons. All the corrective processes you mentioned might be all good, but. It takes too much time. To process the " la reclamation" of the teacher's work is probably as efficient here as claiming other things. Lengthy and overly administrative which beats the purpose in a situation one should react fast. It's kids and their lives we are talking about. Their motivation, self image, hopes and dreams, their chance to succeed...I dislike the kid catering thing in anglophone places, too, it does no service for the kids, honestly. But to feed a child there is something he/she can't do, merely based on some tests done in 6 and 9th grade does not give him/her much chance for improvement.

I think a system that looks down at parents as incompetent to judge the profs skills is arrogant. The good news is, things are changing. The moves seem positive, I hope people will have guts to carry through with it, quickly, before yet another bright kiddo gets sent to 4 years of some trade he/she has no inclination or skills for. I have met briliant profs here who do resent the prehistoric ways things are run sometimes here, and do even more work to somehow negate that.


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Opinions about teachers are all right, we all are entitled to an opionion. I repeat the word: opinion.
Absolutely. And they should mean a lot, shouldn't they...To dismiss parental opinion just because it is an opinion or because teachers have schematizing and stereotyping images of eager beaver egotistic parents who only want to push their little "einsteins" is shortsighted...Aren't the other "evaluative" ways also opinions? How accurate is measuring and what are the objectives, how quickly does this addapt...

Next.
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Old 18.12.2010, 06:14
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Re: Backward Step

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No we are not. We are asked to give an opinion based on academic achievement. If I could say "I don't know and I don't care, the kiddo should decide himself and accept that he may fail doing so", I would love to do so. But I am asked to be more pricise... it comes from the school management, not from me. And in my years in CH, it was the parents who were asking. Begging to reveale them the secret of life for their children. For your info: I am OBLIGED by school management to provide this advise. And I take great pride to have contributed that some student did not become doctors (sarcasm, please read this sentence with a dictionnary open).
So there you go, you work within the framework of a system that seeks to determine the life path of your students. You take part in judging the future of your students by temporal measures according to your opinion, and according to your own bias and shortcomings. You can claim to be unbiased, yet you cannot claim the same for any other teacher out there. I have heard of teachers relishing in their power to decide this, and some have pushed many of their students out of their passions. Such is the Swiss educational system.



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btw Phos, what and where was your educational experience as a kid (so I can understand better). Thanks.
That's a personal question and I am not the topic here. The topic here is the Swiss educational system.

But just to give you an example, what I did in school has very little relevance to the realities of professional life in the real world. {REDACTED}
This is not something teachers readily realize with their static view of the world. In the real world, passion and perspiration account more for success than some evaluation of aptitude conducted by a teacher when somebody is only 13 years old. I think a teacher's failure to understand this is a disservice to society.

The truth is, teachers are not qualified to determine the life path of their individual students. They are only passing on the burden of their own failures to their students instead of being held accountable for their own failures to teach.

Last edited by Phos; 18.12.2010 at 13:39.
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Old 18.12.2010, 10:22
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Re: Backward Step

As long as you do not understand the three following premisses, you will feel miserable:
- the system here does not intend one minute to let parents decide what happens inside school. We all have been medical patients for decades, but that doesn't make us doctors.
- school is not a recruitement service for business but educate in basic and advanced thinking skills in the logical, cognitive and analytical fields to different extend in order for people to do something out of it later in life in a world we can not even imagine today.
- school is the place where culture and identity are acquired, based on totally irrational concernes but all the most deeply ankered in the culture of the place.

You are welcome to desagree with that learning how to be is wrong and that learning how to do would be better, but this is not the premisses of education systems, not even in the UK or the US.
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Old 18.12.2010, 11:22
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Re: Backward Step

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As long as you do not understand the three following premisses, you will be miserable:
- the system here does not intend one minute to let parents decide what happens inside school. I have been a patient for decades, but that doesn't make me a doctor.
- school is not a recruitement service for business but educate in basic and advanced thinking skills in the logical, cognitive and analytical fields to different extend in order for people to do something out of it later in life.
- school is the place where culture and identity are acquired, based on totally irrational concernes but all the most deeply ankered in the culture of the place.

You are welcome to desagree with that learning how to be is wrong and that learning how to do would be better, but this is not the premisses of education systems, not even in the UK or the US.
The four teachers who taught my son in the Swiss educational system often tried to involve me when they couldn't do basic instructive teaching - they couldn't handle a bored 4 or 5 year old. I found it at odds how quickly they involved me when they had difficulty but shut down/ were unresponsive whenever I pointed out to them that I am the child's Mother and it is not up to me to teach or instruct him from my living room. They arbitrarily picked and chose what suited them from the educational system and were so inconsistent I had trouble keeping up with them - they let me know it was not my place to get involved even when I was trying to support them with pre-emptive teaching suggestions, yet I would always hear from them when they were struggling. I swear, I often felt like I had 5 kids: my son and them.

I agree whole-heartedly with Phos and over the 10 years I have lived in Switzerland have heard more negative experiences than positive ones.. After our own experience in the Swiss educational system, we decided it was either private education or back to Northern Ireland with our two.. and I must say, delighted to be back here.. my son has been in Primary 2 here since September and after been told by the Swiss teachers he had confidence problems, insecure etc., last week, in a packed hall full of parents, he introduced the Christmas play/concert with confidence and ease.

An educational system should only be about one thing: the child/student. A system that has to be defended over and over again by argument from the teachers within has already failed IMO.
You need a whole approach to education, one that involves parents and the wider community and certainly not a system that thinks it is better than the child it is teaching.

Last edited by Swisstree; 18.12.2010 at 18:21. Reason: poor writing, sorry a bit shattered today
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Old 18.12.2010, 11:36
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Re: Backward Step

Taking parents' imput into account into a professional debate as teachers, value the observations and the perspective of parents: a BIG YES.
Let them decide: plain NO.

We actually agree. And by the way, I am not defending anything, as what you are talking about is exactly the same in the UK, they just put on a facade in order to get out of trouble, that's all. (sarcastic smiley would be helpful here). Why should a teacher care if opening his/her mouth puts him/her in danger of loosing his/her job?
Dear parents, be careful what you wish for. The more power you want over the PERSONS in the system, the less insight in the SYSTEM you will have. You only have my word for it, it's not much, but at least, you've been warned once in your life.
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Old 18.12.2010, 12:01
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Re: Backward Step

Phos, what you are saying is a problem in schools everywhere. Too many kids are told they can't follow their dream & are encouraged to become mundane. It happened to me back in Scotland, teachers basically told me I would amount to nothing & to not bother trying to become what I wanted to be. Unfortunatley bad teachers are everywhere & the good ones don't get talked about.

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Yeah, sure. I'm not saying the teachers are bad per se. But they work within a framework of a "system" that is for the sake of the "system" rather the potential of the student.

I know this kid who had a passion for electronics. He has been soldering at an early age, and was starting to come out with more and more intricate boards. He had it in his heart to pursue higher education in this. But the school persuaded him and his parents that there isn't a career in such things in Switzerland, but there were plenty of jobs as a "Sanitiermonteur". Sounds to me like it has something to do with installing bathrooms and plumbing. So he ended up going to a vocation school and is not working as such. In my opinion, the poor kid lost his dream, thanks to the Swiss school system. That is tragic.
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Old 18.12.2010, 12:19
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Re: Backward Step

A facade to get out of what trouble exactly

Not my experience here so far: there seems to be more transparency and I know where I stand with regards to my son's development - communication from the school/ teachers is better and my son feels more apart of things, has quickly settled in and made friends.. he has made more progress in 4 months than he did last year in Swiss school.

I am getting that whole approach feeling here, never had that in Swiss school at all.
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Old 18.12.2010, 13:44
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After our own experience in the Swiss educational system, we decided it was either private education or back to Northern Ireland with our two.. and I must say, delighted to be back here.. my son has been in Primary 2 here since September and after been told by the Swiss teachers he had confidence problems, insecure etc., last week, in a packed hall full of parents, he introduced the Christmas play/concert with confidence and ease.

An educational system should only be about one thing: the child/student. A system that has to be defended over and over again by argument from the teachers within has already failed IMO.
You need a whole approach to education, one that involves parents and the wider community and certainly not a system that thinks it is better than the child it is teaching.

A friend has two children. What is doing very well in the Swiss public school, while the other one is being cited for all kinds of attitude problems. He had been getting bad marks. The teacher would take no input from the parents, but rather placed all blame on the child.

They pulled him out of school and placed him in a private school. Within the same year, his progress and grades skyrocketed. He is going beyond his previous Swiss class. This demonstrates how the problem was with the teacher, not the child.

So this is a case where the parents took it upon themselves to decide, knowing their own child better than their Swiss children. This isn't an issue of control as the Swiss teachers might frame it. It's an issue of effectiveness in the child's education.
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Old 18.12.2010, 13:52
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Re: Backward Step

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They pulled him out of school and placed him in a private school. Within the same year, his progress and grades skyrocketed. He is going beyond his previous Swiss class. This demonstrates how the problem was with the teacher, not the child.
In my classes, I've had the same the other way around. So what? I do NOT take the credit for being a genius in pedagogy. Because I know that I failed with some children and saved others. That's the basics of teaching. Sorry to sound crude, but we are dealing with dammage reduction management as much as academic and personal development here. Welcome to school as a work place.
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Old 18.12.2010, 13:59
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Re: Backward Step

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I agree whole-heartedly with Phos and over the 10 years I have lived in Switzerland have heard more negative experiences than positive ones..

An educational system should only be about one thing: the child/student. A system that has to be defended over and over again by argument from the teachers within has already failed IMO.
Strange but I also had the impression that the school was there for the teachers and not for the pupils.
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Old 18.12.2010, 14:11
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Re: Backward Step

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In my classes, I've had the same the other way around. So what? I do NOT take the credit for being a genius in pedagogy. Because I know that I failed with some children and saved others. That's the basics of teaching. Sorry to sound crude, but we are dealing with dammage reduction management as much as academic and personal development here. Welcome to school as a work place.

So here is the big difference - teachers in private schools communicate and even collaborate with parents. In Swiss schools, as you have said, parents have no say in matters of education.
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Old 18.12.2010, 14:16
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Re: Backward Step

That is YOUR rewording of my messages. What I really said is:

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Taking parents' imput into account into a professional debate as teachers, value the observations and the perspective of parents: a BIG YES.
Let them decide: plain NO.
I really don't see what is hard to understand there. And it still gives you plenty of space to disagree and express your opinion.

EDIT: I was in a private school before (not CH, not UK) and I lied far more to parents than I do in public school, for the simple reason that parents would get their way anyway and the students would fail either the very next semester or at the latest when looking for a university, as IB certificates or an IB with minimum points is not worth much in an university application. You really have no idea how lucky you are to have teachers in CH telling you straight forward subjective but honnest opinions so that you can take your kid out if you disagree and get another school. In the UK and private school, the rule is the understatement, which is in itself an understatement for plain lie. But you do not have to believe me, as you obviously do not value teachers' professional opinion.
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Old 18.12.2010, 14:18
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Re: Backward Step

yes Phos - 'clashes of personality' can occur- both ways. Teachers generally (and as a child I had one who was a ***** and nearly destroyed me - in the 50s) try hard to overcome/hide this - students often do not try at all. It can happen, in any country I'm sure. Breaking that pattern can really help, the shock and excitement of making a new start, not only with different teachers, but also students, etc - can truly help develop new attitudes and pay dividends. I'd say that in many cases (but not all) - this can be because the child and parents had a negative attitude towards the teacher for some reason- and not necessarily because 'it was the teacher's fault'. Whether in UK or CH makes very little difference.

I spent 30 years working closely with schools in several European countries and the US, comparing school systems. It absolutely fascinates me- and each system has advantages and disadvantages - but also one system may suit a 'type' of student better than others. Personally, the UK system would have been absolutely wonderful for me - as I am excellent at some things, and very poor at others. So the A'Level system would have suited me to the ground.
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Old 18.12.2010, 15:50
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Re: Backward Step

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The four teachers that taught my son in the Swiss educational system often tried to involved me when they couldn't do basic instructive teaching - they couldn't handle a bored 4 or 5 year old. I found it at odds how quick they were to involve me when they had difficulty but shut down and were unresponsive whenever I pointed out to them that I am the child's Mother and it is not up to me to teach or instruct him from my living room. They arbitrarily picked and chose what suited them from the educational system and were so inconsistent I had trouble keeping up with them - they let me know it was not my place to get involved even when I was trying to support them with pre-emptive teaching suggestions, yet I would always hear from them when they were struggling. I swear, I often felt like I had 5 kids: my son and them.
That's the thing. This scenario repeats and repeats, over and over, I have seen it so many times it is a pattern. It seems to me, that a system that allows not specialized individuals (teachers have how many subjects here? ) handle too many things at once, and who, at some schools do not get proper back up, where, in adition, mobbing is a way of "cooperation" amongst colleagues and where solidarity and friendships comes secondary after "being liked" by supervisors and trying to get hired the next year, the kids interests are secondary, too, it makes all the sense it possibly can, that teachers need the protection of this concept of institution. It is not the kids who are not confident, they are scared since they have been frightened into either aggressive go getter mode (which seems to be encouraged I have witnessed) or passive and meek low key mode...It's the profs who suffer with confidence issues (ok ok, yet again, but seriously), why otherwise would they need to push parents out and invite them only to do the dirty job. Parents are asked to motivate kids, inspire, etc. but why the hell should be a good school scared of parental control? If it is a good, confident, efficient system, there is always enough space to actually listen to the needs and wishes of the kids and their folks. I do not think teachers know the kids better. They only know them better as performers....Who guarantees that they actually know them better as humans? I am saying that does happen here more than elsewhere, anywhere else I taught, I've never seen a prof needing the instution more than here to cover their backs and being used against parents. In no way I think the children benefit from these games. And I have a lot of experiences with kids who end up in their last possible school to make stuff work at last and find their way into the world of work. You would be surprised how many wonderful, bright kids happen to end up with us, because they have been "diagnosed" by know it all, arrogant and incompetent fellow teachers. When teachers stick to kids for more than a year, when they are allowed to get specialized in 1-2 subjects, when there is a quality control and responsibility, when they are faced with outcomes of their decisions, then things move on.

As I said, there is a push to make it happen here, so the line about how closed off a swiss school is to parents and will always be...I don't know what school Faltrad teaches, but where I am, parents are seriously taken in account, they are invited to help out with discipline and with whatever info they can provide. It's the parents who don't care that make me and my colleagues worried. Not the eager beavers, to assume all those folks are aggressive parents wanting over achieving kids is wrong and in fact does not reflect the reality at all. Not all parents think their kids are the best, it is arrogant to assume so and patronising, same way clients are talked to at docs here or the way customer service is treated. I wish we all could have that faith that somebody will do work for us without us needing to be concerned, but honestly, my experience tells me to stay cautious and watch out, for my kid, for my students, for whoever is told somebody better will make the decision for them.

Plus, I teach the way I teach, expect a lot from kids, don't mind parents walking in telling me to expect more, it would actually play the ball into my court, I would love that, it shows they care, plus one can do so much more with some kids when they feel parents respect the profs and are on the same page. If I have a concerned parent who needs less work load, we transfer the kid to a lower level just in my subject, so it is pretty flexible. But I would in no way push a parent out. Plus for most parts I am used to work in multilevel class, one has to adapt, know how to work with special needs, how to support more, when less and when to motivate bright and gifted children, so they feel like achievers..That is something I found out people are often scared of here, since they are not used to it, they often think it means a lot more involvement and work, when in reality, just a different mindset.
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Re: Backward Step

I'd love to continue the discussion, as it is a subject so close to my heart, but do not wish to partake in a 'shouting' match- please.
I've never taught in Switzerland- my experience is as a child in the 50s and 60s- and I have to admit I had some poor teachers who did more damage than good. I trained as a teacher in the UK and taught there all my adult life- in 4 different schools, covering the whole of the secondary age range, and my children went through the system there. I know many young teachers here in CH- they are hugely enthusiastic and motivated- and we have very interesting conversations. We also help with a lot of outdoor activities with our local primary school. I see those teachers work as a team with the parents in a very positive manner. I therefore cannot accept that they are poor teachers, who have closed doors and who demotivate children and push them into unsuitable courses. I am very very sorry that some of you feel differently because of your own experiences. I'd agree that ideally parents and teachers should work as a team and trust + respect each other. It really goes both ways, of course.
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Old 18.12.2010, 19:00
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Re: Backward Step

Don't think there is a shouting match going on, do you? I would hate to see you leave this thread because of other people's passionate involvement on the subject - I have valued many things you have written regarding education here and in other threads, you know your stuff

To put it simply, the UK system is not perfect but I think all know that: parents/ teachers alike and in many schools the wider community work together to try and improve things. Here in Switzerland the system is also not perfect but all that work in it think it is and are heedless to any real educational concerns parents/ children have along the way.
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