Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Swiss Education

Let's be honest. Jake may never forgive us for this trip to Switzerland. I have adjusted to be quite comfortable, even with the longer commute from Rüfenacht. The other kids seem to be have adjusted, made friends, gotten used to the change. Jake: not so much. "This is the worst thing you guys have ever done to me."

We sent him back to the US over the winter break to help cheer him up. I used 80,000 of my United Airlines frequent flyer miles to send him back in business class. We were hoping that this trip back to the US would remind him that he still has friends and family who support and care for him no matter what. Upon his return, (with a broken arm and a cast), we were hoping for a refreshed and renewed Jake ready to take on the new semester at school with enthusiasm and vigor.

Not so much.

"Dad, I hate the ISB." Jake mumbled. This was the same sentence that he has spoken many times before, as if it were a prayer chant, a meditation, a mantra. "Can I be home-schooled?"


"Can I go to a Swiss school?"

(Are you crazy?) OK we'll see what we can do.

The kids went to school at the ISB for one week. Friday was the "Ski day" where all students from the second grade on up go to a day's worth of skiing. The kindergarten kids and first graders go to the ice rink to go ice skating. Jake, of course, was not allowed to go skiing with his broken wrist. So he stayed home. But instead of actually staying home, he was given the opportunity to visit the local Swiss school in Rüfenacht. The school had a special day to try out the new environment called "Schnuppertag" (snooper day).

Jake enjoyed it. Actually said, "Let's try more". The school had a "Schnupperwoche" (snooper week) that Jake tried out the next week. Since the vacation days between the two schools are completely different, we decided to ask the other two kids at the ISB if they wanted to try the local Swiss school. They went to the local public school on the same week as Jake's "Schnupperwoche"

After a few days, it was pretty clear that they are no longer going to go to the ISB. They all chose this themselves. We didn't pressure them. We can't believe it either. All three children has withdrawn from the ISB, and are now attending the local Swiss schools full-time, in a fully German environment.

Josh is going to the Kindergarten named, this is so cliche, "Hansel und Gretel". The class is all in Swiss German, and he has no clue what is being said. He just follows along and plays with the kids. There are rules in the Swiss education system that prevent Kindergarten from being like the Kindergarten in the US, where it is almost as much pressure on the poor Kindergarten kids to learn as is pressure on the high school kids trying to get into college. So in a Swiss Kindergarten, you're pretty much guaranteed to goof off, play, get in lines, sing, stuff like that. No writing, or reading, or deconstruction of iambic pentameter.

Jake spends the day in intensive German training. He goes to some of the classes that involve not much lecture; classes like Gym, or Industrial Arts. Cecilia has much the same schedule.

I may give more details on the kid's educational progress and schedules in the next few posts.

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