I and school, we were not the best of friends.
From our flat at Rosenaustrasse 18, primary school, situated next to the parish church of St. Antony, was on the opposite side of the Augsburg Wittelsbacher Park. As I recollect, the four years I spent there were rather unpleasant.
Because to me, the “Volksschule“ felt like a cruel place of suppression. And I think that is what it actually was. Later, when I attended the “business-oriented” Jakob Fugger Grammar School, I had a better time. We were definitely treated in a more humane fashion there, especially by the younger teachers. And with each grade up, I enjoyed more freedom and leisure time.
My annual reports were poor. When I was twelve years old, I started playing chess, which increased my concentration. After that, I won against the teachers more and more often if I played against them. My reports got better, which, however, did not necessarily mean that my “achievement” had improved.
I got more and more proficient having quite some success with rather minimum effort. My friends and I became “lazy students”. That gave us a lot of leisure time. We used it very intensely and creatively for all kinds of activities. And in our leisure time, we definitely learned more and understood more than at school. At school, we often restricted our activity to “knowledge bulimia“– as it would be called today.
My grades at school differed with the subjects. Meticulous bookkeeping and ingenious mathematics were definitely my highlights. I found them rather easy to do and also enjoyed them very much. The skills I acquired in both subjects were very useful in my later life – but on totally different levels.
In the learning-intensive subjects biology, geography and history, the marks oscillated very much. They depended completely on my current interest situation and sometimes also on the type of teacher we had.
Business and economy were two areas I felt quite comfortable with. However, my (absurd) theories were not really compatible with the (absurd) theories introduced by the curriculum or teachers, which meant that I was graded C – which I found unjust.
I did not do too bad in chemistry and physics, but found both subjects a little boring.
My poor results in English (seven years of learning) and French (also seven years of learning) were justly given. In French, matters soon changed, because I spent a lot of time in France after I was 14 years old. Communicating decently in English, however, was something I only learned later, in my computer science and project life.
My poor results in religious education were totally justified; in fact, I was rather proud of them!
There were also subjects you learned voluntarily, such s stenography (successfully) and typing (not so successfully, but at least good enough to type with ten fingers). I terminated my Latin education after two lessons. The study group photography was something I truly enjoyed – regardless of the fact that the analogous technology often caused frustration.
I wrote this list in order to show that young persons are pressed into tackling far too many topics at school. Mind you, the worst of all subjects is still not on the list: German!
My problem was the German essay. And this “subject“ in general. It is the one subject that stands unrivalled when it comes to showing you the problems and disadvantages of our educational system.
I will do so in my next article: “German essays“!
(Translated by EG)