January 18, 2010

working mothers

There is an interesting article in the New York Times this morning.  All about working mothers, and the school system in Germany.
My sister-in-law, who grew up here in the States, but now lives in Germany, told me that she gets a lot of questions about working and raising a child (6) in Germany.  While no one here questions a woman with children working, in Germany it's still not a daily occurrence.
I found this article to be interesting, and really the way I perceive it.  I didn't know that the half-day of school went back as far as the 1700's.  But I did wonder why a system exists, that makes it so hard for a woman to work.
Compare that with the way I grew up, totally 'Little House on the Prairie' style.  First, second, third and fourth grade were all in ONE room.  Taught by one teacher.  Who covered all the subjects.  And fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth were also in one room.  One teacher, all the subjects.  And the really bizarre fact that next to us in another room were all the Catholics, also one teacher, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades in one room....
Just amazing.  A couple times in the summer our teacher would take us for a walk in the meadows, woods, etc., and show us plants.  Some of those lessons are still with me, and we all got fairly good at identifying plants.
He also played the violin for music lessons.  We did learn to sing, at least to focus on the words, and not add extra letters into the song.  A habit that sticks with me to this day.  Good thing school only went until the latest 1:30 PM.  I'm sure our poor teacher was tired at the end of that day!
My 8th grade class was the last one in the village to be educated like that, the classes after us moved to a new school, when only - I don't remember - maybe one class at a time was taught.
And no, I'm not that ancient.  But going back to places like Sturbridge Village in MA birng back memories, because some of the things I experienced were like that (except for the cute costumes).
Our mother was the typical German Housewife.  She didn't work, she had dinner or lunch, hot, on the table at noon time (or between 12 and 1).  And she ran the house.  That she was an amazing woman and loved by a lot of people I'll go into some other time.
The point is still that things should be made easier in Germany for working women.  If I think of the support system my daughters and daughter-in-law have here in the States... and how well the children are doing in daycare.


  1. Oh, I LOVE this post..
    How interesting to know some of your childhood and about the schools. Why were the Catholics in another room? My mom was raised in a Catholic Orphanage here in the USA. Not sure if the Germans were in another room (O:
    Please don't take that the wrong way...
    I could *listen* to stories from other peoples lives forever. Can't wait to hear about your Mother.
    Take care and stay warm!
    I'll be back soon!

  2. thats right, its difficult for working mom´s here in germany :-(