You may have noticed that updates at Southeast Schnitzel have been scarce recently. The main reason for that were workshops and presentations I had been working on. To make up for my “blogger writer’s block” I will present some of the key elements of my seminars here.
Some of you will remember that I had been posting about the seminar that was meant to prepare local school for the impact of German students and their parents.
That workshop actually took place twice, first at the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, and once more during the general in-service day for Cleveland City Schools. From the response I got so far, it is fair to conclude that both events were well received and everybody went away from the presentation having learned something new.
Thanks again to the Chattanooga Times Free Press and the Cleveland Daily Banner for their ongoing support in covering the topic.
During the workshop I went through all the major differences between the American and the German educational system – and of course through the many similarities.
The most important thing to keep in mind for educators on both sides of the Atlantic: While the U.S. educational system relies on a single track system, the German school system usually features three or four different tiers in secondary education.
The secondary tracks come with some significant differences in regards to curriculum and academic attainment of their student body. For schools in Southeast Tennessee this means a lot of adjustment and customization when dealing with school-aged children of German parents who are employed with companies like Volkswagen or Wacker Chemie.
To my knowledge there are currently less than 50 German students enrolled in area schools, but already these schools struggle to accommodate their needs. Public schools like Normal Park neither have the necessary staff nor the funding in place to teach their German students what they need to learn, in order to re-enroll smoothly into the German system once their parents’ job assignments in the U.S. are fulfilled.
By the end of the year some insiders expect up to 80 German students in the Chattanooga area – and that is only the number of children who are from Volkswagen families. More international students are likely to arrive in the coming years in connection with the arrival of Wacker Chemie in Bradley County and the expected suppliers for both these industries.
We all expect our communities to benefit a great deal from billion dollar investments like these, but we need to prepare our schools better. One Volkswagen family was able to attend my presentation and was happy to hear that schools in Cleveland are treating this question with a high priority. However, they expressed their concern that Chattanooga/Hamilton County had apparently failed to address educational questions at an earlier stage.
With great economic power comes great educational responsibility.
This doesn’t only apply to our new German friends and their needs. It is also important for American students who hope to land a well-paying job at these companies.
I’ll post more on this issue in the future.
Christian is a cultural trainer, coach, and consultant with extensive experience in working with multinational companies and especially in developing global leaders. He is the founder and owner of Höferle Consulting, where he leads a team of dedicated training, destination services, and expat support specialists. Christian works with global organizations (or those who are going global) to help their employees oversome cultural differences. Typically he only uses the word “normal” in quotation marks and he is an advocate for helping people understand the why of behaviors – not just the dos & don’ts. Find out more about Christian and follow him on Twitter. You can also see him, listen to him, and experience his work – just invite him! Or sign up for the Höferle Consulting newsletter.