thankfully, i had no odd dreams of dominatrix school principals, instead my nightmares were of an education system bent on making sure my daughter becomes a plumber or electrician (not that those are bad professions, it's just that i'm not sure that's the route she should take).
there was much talk last evening, by an overly tan man with long, white hair (can you say 70s leftover?), of how the kids would be counseled towards their ungdomsuddannelse. already in the 8th grade, they will make a plan for their future education (because you totally know what you want to do/be when you're 13). that rings a little soviet in my ears - having the state decide what you'll be at an early age and then seeing that you become it. i think russia groomed a lot of scientists that way. but denmark's ambitions are a bit lower, it seems they're more interested in grooming carpenters and plumbers (tho' there aren't enough apprentice spots for these professions, so many people taking those courses never become those things). but, we shouldn't forget that low ambition is what keeps the danes at the top of those happy lists, so there's that.
but it all raises my hackles. partly, i will admit, because i'm not entirely clear as to what is meant by ungdomsuddannelse (youth education, if i translate literally). here, mandatory school is through the 9th grade, with an optional 10th grade (many people take that at an efterskole (a boarding school that specializes in something or other - often sports, or riding or music or even media studies)). after that, if you eventually want to go to university, you tend to go to a 3-year gymnasium (somewhere between our high school and the first year of college). if you're not university bound, you can go to technical schools of various kinds. is it those technical schools and maybe even the efterskole that are ungdomsuddannelse, or is it all of it, including gymnasium and university? that's very unclear, even in the three pages of materials they gave to us last night.
basically, i want to know how they're going to help my child get into princeton. or if they're going to try to lead her down a path towards moped mechanic (that was actually mentioned). i'm being a bit facetious here. i'm not sure i really want her to go to princeton (berkeley or columbia would be ok too), but my point is that i want her to think that anything is possible and not that she has to follow a narrowly prescribed path determined by some aging hippie who didn't even know her when she was in middle school. and how will we ever know where she's going if she doesn't take the SAT?
that's the other thing that's not clear. since there's not much standardized testing in denmark, how do they determine what they call uddannelsesparathed (educational readiness). is it entirely subjective? is it determined by a bunch of teachers who frankly, have been questionably educated themselves in seminarium that are somewhere in the neighborhood of a suburban american junior college academically? are the kids out here in udkantsdanmark (the countryside/fringes) especially pushed in the direction of such professions by current political forces? (a story i heard on the radio yesterday suggested as much.) can your location determine what you can be when you grow up? the future of my child is hanging in the balance here and i can't see what it's balancing upon.
the only thing that's clear is that it's denmark's current goal to get these kids out there and through their education as quickly as possible so they can begin to be good little taxpayers. let's face it, those politicians aren't getting any younger, so they need to ensure that the next generation is paying for their pensions.
and now i'm off to google boarding schools in switzerland.
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that's four more items off my "to blog" list from the parents' meeting last evening.