Last played:

1st half: 2009

2nd half: 2009


Historically, Schultag in Waldsee has revolved around a simulation of the Gymnasium. This version divides Waldsee into all three types of German schools, making for a more interesting debriefing. This is usually done as a special Samstagsprogramm but could also work as a Sonntagsprogramm (assuming a reasonable quorum of Betreuer present) or, in abbreviated form, as an Abendprogramm.

Waldsee is divided into six groups, with two each from each type of school. The Schüler stay in one place while the Betreuer/Lehrer move around. Because of this last part, it is fitting for there to be at least one Betreuer serving as a "class monitor."


Make sure there are Tafel for each Klassenzimmer. Good Klassenzimmer are: anywhere in the Bahnhof, oben im Gasthof, unten im Gasthof, Max Kade Haus, Oberammergau, Unterammergau, Stuttgart.

In the attached Tagesplan, there is a normal Pause (5 minutes earlier than usual) and a normal Mittagessen. Another option is to have a Pausenbrot (you'll need to order, for instance, Käsebrötchen in advance from the kitchen) and then to have Mittagessen later in the day. You can also start the day earlier if you want (in this version, Unterricht started at 9.30 after a combined Gesang, but you could start it immediately after breakfast, or even earlier).

Lauf des Tages:

See attached for a sample Tagesplan. In this Tagesplan the simulation ends at around 15.15 or so, giving you time to: 1) if it is Saturday, either have an abbreviated second Veranstaltungsstunde or a Pause (before Post/Restaurantvorbereitungszeit at 16.00) or 2) if it is Sunday, to do another Tagesprogramm.

The big point here is to distinguish carefully among the three types of schools. The Gymnasien should have scholarly subjects with a theoretical bent, and should cover advanced topics (e.g. in math, go with calculus). Realschulen focus on an extended curriculum (compared to Hauptschulen), but were originally created to focus more on science in its practical applications. To simulate this, the attached Tagesplan had the students doing Buchhaltung, but other possibilities are things like home economics and technology. Finally, the Hauptschule subjects should be taught at a lower level, and a big portion of the day should be consumed with Berufslehre/Arbeitslehre, which should teach students about the "world of work." Some ideas are: secretary Ausbildung, gardening, Werkstatt, etc.


Begin by asking the students what they learned and how difficult they thought it was. Get them talking and they will soon realize that they had different experiences. Talk about the history and structure of the German tripartite school system (see attached graphic). Mention the critiques of it (mainly that it selects early and leads to unequal opportunities for students). Get them to think about what might be the benefits. (Proponents argue that Germany prepares its students better for the many kinds of jobs that they will ultimately have.)

Also note that Berlin did away with the Hauptschule, merging it with Realschulen and Gesamtschulen, in 2011. The idea was to attempt to eradicate the major differences in achievement in students in the different types of schools.

German school system:

In grades 5 and 6, students go through an Orientierungsstufe in which students, but mainly parents and teachers, decide what school the pupil should attend. (Things are different in Berlin and Brandenburg; look it up). Teachers give a Bildungsempfehlung.

Hauptschulen are the least academic, and prepare for vocational schools (Berufsschule) or jobs. You might mention that the apprentice system is still a very big part of the German work world, and that students at Berufsschulen aquire real skills while simultaneously working as apprentices at companies. On the other hand, it is also important to note that the CDU has been a much bigger proponent of Hauptschulen than the SPD, which has attempted to shut them down. Part of the reason for this is that a tripartite school system like this is inherently conservative; and in recent years, the Hauptschulen have been increasingly stigmatized. Immigrants and the poor are disproportionately likely to attend Hauptschulen. Realschulen terminate at the Mittlere Reife, which incidentally is considered by many Germans to be equivalent to the American high-school diploma. Holders of a Mittlere Reife usually have to engage in further studies, sometimes at a general Gymnasium, before gaining admittance to university. The Gymnasium prepares for university, and culminates in the Abitur. Many Gymnasien tend to be humanities-oriented, although students generally study the types of classes you would see in an American college-preparatory high school. Gymnasien also continue to put a strong emphasis on Latin and Greek, and indeed some universities require Latini (singular: Latinum), or certificates of Latin education, to pursue certain studies (including, in a blast from the past, medicine).