Secret Subject Swap - Ungrateful

Welcome to November's Secret Subject Swap

Again 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

If you came here for the Ultimate Blog Challenge, head over to this post. By all means though, keep reading!

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  

Sit back, grab a cup and check them all out:

Baking In A Tornado
Wandering Web Designer
What TF Sarah 
Part-Time Working Hockey Mom

My subject is

November is all about being grateful. 

What is something you're not grateful for?

It was submitted by: What TF Sarah  - thank you, Sarah!

What a tough question for someone like me who has so many things to be grateful for. As we say in Swiss German "mir sind gsund und gfrässig", which litterally translates as "we are healthy and wolfish".

We live in a stable country. OK, I'll take that back. We've been experiencing anti-vaxxers demonstrating in just about every major Swiss city these past weeks and months. Still, though. 

Our systems and laws that are in place are working fine, and our members of the government are doing a pretty nice job considering the situation and circumstances. OK, I'll take that back. If a regular person can not find a GP within a reasonable driving distance, something is not that great. Still though.

In our country we don't have to worry about natural disasters. OK, I'll take that back. We've had bad hailstorms, downpours, floodings, and  as a result, crop shortfalls this "spring" and "summer". Still though. We have insurance, and we can still feed our people. 

I have been asking myself what a reason might even be to actively feel ungrateful for something? Ungrateful about things we're taking for granted and just forget to be grateful for? Things we feel we're entitled to or worked hard and earned them, so we don't need to be grateful?

I don't have any answers to these questions. 

The CEO I worked for in my very first job as an HR Manager, taught me to work with what you have. So we didn't have the payroll budget to hire the fancy hotshots off the job market where the grass is green. We needed to train, coach and develop our own people. 

I think this beautifully translates to life in general.

You're not getting handed the perfect life on a silver platter, you need to work with what you've got and make the best of it. School, job, friends, house, health...

Speaking of school. 

This week we attended an information event at Colin's future school. Compared to the U.S. it's probably something between high school and college? Kids start when they're 15 or 16 and graduate aged 19 or 20. The degree they will achieve allows them to go to university. 

It's a public school. There are several in each state. This means no tuition. Parents will only pay for books, external workshops, projects weeks, language stays, exchange semesters (if applicable), daily commute and food. 

Your grade point average needs to be above 4.7 (out of 6 being the best). I'm pretty sure back when it was my classmates' and my turn, the threshold was at 5.0. 

This is the only admission criterion. No application, no essay, no recommendation letter. So there's no competition between students, everybody gets to go. There's also no "better" school as in Ivy League. You attend one of your states' schools, and they all offer more or less the same. In any case the final exams will be the same for everybody. 

I was blown away by the presentation. Blown away in a sense "wow, times have changed!" Changed in positive and negative ways.

On one hand it has become more diverse and attractive. For example they offer a program they call "immersion". It's for kids who love English and want to use and improve their skills. Remember, we live in the German speaking part of Switzerland, so our teaching language is usually German. In the Immersion Program, however, a bunch of subjects are taught in English, so teachers and students speak English, and they kids create their essays in English as well. Brilliant!

The amount and variety of voluntary subjects has improved as well. So many languages, artistic and musical classes to choose from! 

I trust the way of teaching has changed as well from old-school lecturing to teamwork and personal responsibility.

On the other hand I feel like they're not getting enough students, so they have to become more attractive content wise, but also admission wise.

See the 4.7 seems to be getting harder to achieve for today's kids. What does the school do? They offer alternative programs, call them slightly differently, make them available for students with a 4.0 and BOOOM, everybody gets to achieve a degree, schools are crowded, and funds are made available. 

I might be wrong, but this is my perception. 

It's the "everybody who participated in the race will get the same medal" mentality. Now is it nice? Sure. Does it reflect reality? You know, the evil economy out there that young people should get prepared for? I think not.

Also: we don't need more uninspired graduates who don't know what to do with themselves and end up answering calls for unsurance companies. We need more nurses, IT guys, plumbers, heating engineers, carpenters - folks with skills. 

Skills that can be acquired by undergoing three or four years of structured vocational training that is being offered for 250 different professions.

Every year thousands of these apprenticeship positions can not be filled. 
Every year 20% of the 55k apprenticeships that were started, will be abandoned. 
Some employers will exploit apprentices as cheap labor, while some trainees start their careers naively and are shocked when they can't take their usual 10 o'clock break or if a customer complains. 

What's my point? 
I still need to answer Sarah's prompt: what am I not grateful for. I guess it's a society that is photoshopping reality.
Parents, teachers and employers should have the same goal: turning undecided young people into responsible, hard-working professionals.

How? Not by by removing all obstacles from their path or bringing a lawyer to discuss negotiate grades at parent-teacher night, that's for sure.

I like to think that my part as a parent is to role model that even though life is no walk in the park, if you do your work, you still get to play. 

PS: Colin's current class teacher was looking for an HR person to volunteer for "hands-on job interview coaching", so that's what I am going to do early next year. Sounds like a job cut out for me...

What do you think? Should schools lower their standards to accommodate students and / or their parents? 

Let me know below and please head over to my blogging buddies' posts!


  1. I think what's missing, in my country anyway, is a clear path to a good future for those who don't "make the grade" for college or college prep schools. There are other professions that are honorable and necessary and we need to value those paths and support the path to them.

  2. Your country sounds so wonderful. I wish we had those opportunities here. So you have anti-vaxxers there as well? I never thought of that. I actually thought it was stupid Americans. I cannot believe your son is already old enough for this new adventure! It just doesn't seem possible!


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