Tuesday found the Roundtable on the road to Dresden for another informative day. First up Berufliches Schulzentrum Bau und Technik School (BSZ Bau und Technik) a vocational school specializing in construction trades. Here we had an opportunity to see what the theory described in Berlin looked like on the groundDresden, a city in the state of Saxony, was in East Germany following World War II. It had been destroyed in 1945 in several savage nights of carpet bombing by British and American bombers. The school was the first school opened in Dresden following World War II and remains an example of East German architecture, complete with Soviet-style images of adults shepherding students into the future. The Roundtable posed with its host Assistant Principal Steffen Palowsky at the front steps of the school.
Palowsky, concerned about his facility in English, asked his charming daughter Analise to translate for him. The two of them described a very complex system. Students arrive at the school after ten years of schooling. Its teaching staff of 59, along with three social workers, serve 1,050 students. Students typically spend a couple of weeks with an employer followed by a couple of weeks in school.
The school is an “umbrella” school, housing several different programs within its walls. The first, the Fachoberschule aims to prepare students for entry into applied science universities. Its curriculum emphasizes German, another language, mathematics, applied physics, chemistry, information technology, ethics, and gym. The second, Berufschule offers a dual VET system for students entering after ten years of school to develop skills in brickworking, steelworking, and working with concrete. Students work for four weeks, before spending two weeks in school. The regional IHK is responsible for the test that provides a certificate to these students.
The third, the Fachschule is aimed at students ranging in age from 25 to 50 and helps develop building site foremen, draftsmen, and people capable of starting their own companies. Finally, the Druk und Medientechnik is yet another dual VET system aimed at developing talents in art, printing, photography, and media design.
The system is not simply complex, Palowsky is responsible for helping lead a school with difficult scheduling challenges in which some students are in the school every week, some are in school every other week, and some are in school only once every six weeks! To an American educator, it sounds like a scheduling nightmare.
The school aims to produce a variety of well-trained employees, for the most part working within the Dual VET system described earlier at Siemens and the Ministry of Education. It produces construction workers, steel workers, specialists in working with concrete, foremen and people equipped to start their own small businesses, as well as opticians, lens grinders, and media specialists in art, photography, printing, and media design.