German Language Blog

German parents want to kick out their children’s teacher Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

On January 15 Sönke Wortmann’s movie Frau Müller muss weg! (lit. Frau Müller has to go!) was released at German movie theaters. The critical comedy depicts the difficult relationship between parents and their children’s teachers in Germany. The story behind the film is certainly not far-fetched but reflects the situation of German teachers and parents alike.

Frau Müller (Gabriela Maria Schmeide) is a cordial Grundschullehrerin (elementary teacher) in Dresden. Even after 20 years of Berufserfahrung (professional experience) she still loves her job. She cheerfully bids her student’s parents welcome on an unscheduled Elternversammlung (parent meeting) on a Saturday afternoon.

In three months, the Halbjahreszeugnisse (intermediate report cards) will be handed out, which worries the paternal minds. The parents are dissatisfied with the schlechten schulischen Leistungen (poor school performances) of their children and put the blame on Frau Müller. Allegedly, Frau Müller’s grading is too strict and she assigns too much homework.

Worried mother Jessica Höfel (Anke Engelke) has recognized herself that her daughter isn’t die hellste Kerze im Leuchter” (the brightest bulb in the box) but wants to send her to a Gymnasium (academic high-school) anyway, just as the other parents, too. But the intermediate report cards are decisive for an appropriate secondary school. If the report cards will turn out badly, the chances of entering a Gymnasium would diminish.


The pressure of the job market

The movie Frau Müller muss weg! addresses the current fear of many German parents who are concerned with the professional prospects of their children, which also implies their future financial conditions. In conversation with the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, the Swiss pediatrician Remo Largo declares: “The economic crisis, Hartz IV (A/N, German unemployment benefit), and the rise of China lead up to enormous fears with regard to their offspring.”
But teachers are also put under pressure. On the one hand, they have to grade the school performance of their students and on the other hand, they are also aware of the current economic situation. The requirements on students have gradually been lowered over the last decades. According to the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) the final grade 1.0 of the Abitur (high-school diploma) increased by 40 percent between 2006 and 2012. These days, there are more students who achieve better results, but most of them aren’t wiser than past Abiturienten (high-school graduates).


Frau Müller, it’s not ADHS, it’s intellectual giftedness!

Frau Müller informs the couple Marina and Patrick Jeskow (Mina Tander and Ken Duken) that their son displays behavioral problems. He disrupts the class and beats classmates. Marina Jeskow is unsympathetic to the fact that her son could suffer from Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-Hyperaktivitätsstörung (ADHS, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). She is convinced that her son is hochbegabt (highly talented) and that he only disrupts the class because he is unterfordert (unchallenged).
Indeed, many German parents tend to think that their children are highly talented when they are confronted with the contingency that their child could suffer from ADHS. It must be noted that the medikamentöse Behandlung (medical treatment) of ADHS isn’t that advanced in Germany because the majority of physicians still refuse to give Ritalin to young children.


What the movie Frau Müller muss weg! wants to tell us

The lesson to learn is clear: Parents have to learn again that teachers aren’t enemies, who want to score off their children. It’s a pedagog’s task to teach students in a particular field and to evaluate their Lernfortschritte (learning progresses). Unfortunately, most Germans hold the opinion that they can foist parental education off on the teachers of their children.
Moreover, parents have to learn that it’s better not to push their children but to confide in them. It is not necessary to pass the Abitur or to complete an akademische Ausbildung (academic training) in order to find one’s place in the world of employment and to live a happy life.


die Grundschullehrerin – female elementary teacher
der Grundschullehrer – male elementary teacher
die Berufserfahrung – professional experience
die Elternversammlung – parental meeting
das Halbjahreszeugnis – intermediate report card
die schlechten schulischen Leistungen – poor school performance
das Abitur – high-school diploma
der Abiturient – male high-school graduate
die Abiturientin – female high-school graduate
die Abiturienten – high-school graduates
die Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-Hyperaktivitätsstörung – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHS)
hochbegabt – highly talented
unterfordert – unchallenged
die medikamentöse Behandlung – medical treatment
der Lernfortschritt – learning progress
die Lernfortschritte – learning progresses
die akademische Ausbildung – academic training

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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. marcia bernhard:

    Thanks. I haven’t seen one of your posts for a while and am reminded how much I like them. Also, it’s nice that you have an option for leaving a reply. I like to keep abreast of all things German. Sie sind die Beste!

  2. Andrew G.:

    I would see this. My German isn’t good enough to understand it, but in the trailer I laughed at the very last bit where she was looking for Frau Müller… In water? 😉

    Anyhow, it looks like it would be amusing, and it also deals with a real issue.

  3. Jane Caron:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and this article. I enjoyed reading it very much. I am an American who moved to Bavaria about 18 months ago with my German-American husband and our two daughters. When we arrived, we placed our daughters in the local Grundschule–grades 1 and 4–where they went from speaking only a few words in German to successfully communicating within 6 months. They now speak, read and write Hochdeutsch very well.

    My oldest daughter is now in the 5th grade in Gymnasium and my youngest is in 2nd grade in the Grundschule. Thus, your article on parental education concerns (and your blog in general) resonates with me. Thank you for writing it!

    While some German parents are indeed quite critical of the education system here, I am a huge fan. My girls are getting a better education here than they were in America. They have to work hard, but they are motivated to do so and speak very highly of their teachers. I also like the fact that they are both finished school by 12:45 p.m. at the latest. Thus, they have plenty of time for homework and play. If you were to ask my girls which school they prefer, they will tell you that they loved their old school in America, but they prefer to be here.

  4. Sandy:

    Thank you for sharing this! I love the idea of using an authentic and current piece of popular culture to address such a complicated topic. I do have concerns about how to scaffold this trailer (or film) to the level of high school German students. Have you taught a lesson using this trailer/film? Perhaps you could give me some tips.