Imagine having to tell a child’s parents that their 12-year-old isn’t going to be attending a University in his/her lifetime — that their son or daughter has been deemed unqualified to continue a normal education. This is exactly what Sonja Hofstetter had to do, once a year, for about half the students in her sixth grade class.
Our couchsurfing host for three nights in Basel, Sonja recounted some of the intense pressure she experienced as a primary school teacher in Switzerland. Sixth grade, it turns out, is when a crucial decision is made for the future of students in the Swiss education system: whether or not they will pass into the higher level secondary school, or lower level secondary school.
Below, Sonja helps explain some of implications of this practice, the questions it raises, and problems it presents for immigrants in Switzerland. We thought it was an interesting distinction from the American schooling system. Tell us, what do you think?