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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 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 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.
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