Erasmus+ in Denmark

13.12.2022 19:19
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Autor : Martina Vojteková, Gymnázium Ivana Kupca, Komenského, Hlohovec

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As we already know, our school gave us a big opportunity to visit Denmark thanks to European Union and project Erasmus+. We were able to see the school system in this country and try to be in a position of a student in Denmark for a few days. It was an amazing educative trip, but let me tell you more step by step.

Firstly, I would like to tell you about schools all in all. For the first sight we were able to see that their schools looked wonderful. Nice new modern classrooms, with modern school tools for each lesson. For example, cooking classrooms with induction cookers, ovens, dish washers. Or a technical room, where students could try different technical tools and build their own projects or even learn how to weld. I need to mention science labs, where we have got to be little jealous about their supplements, microscopes and all scientific capability. Everything was on high level of amenities. Also, each student had own laptop, which they can use for searching information, making presentations or learning from e-books. The fact that in Nykøbing Katedralskole has their own observatory is engrossing. By this young people can find their interests and develop in them.

Secondly, the grading system. In Slovakia we are used to use grades on scale 1-5 or percentages 0%-100%. But in Denmark it is different. They are using a wide scale from -3 to 12 (7-step-scale, so it goes -3, 0, 2, 4, 7, 10, 12). It is because they want to rate students more fairly. As we were talking with Christian (one of the headteachers), he said that they are giving grades -3 and 12 rarely. Because nobody is for them under 0 (just to stand up before class takes the courage) and to get a 12 you need to be exceedingly great and do much more. Another interesting thing for us was that students are not getting grades until the 8th grade. Teachers are grading them just by short verbal opinions, basically giving them feedback. For them it is really important to motivate students and encourage self-improvement.

We also saw a few lessons and they are different from ours. We are used to have 45 minutes long lessons and learn from books and listen to the teachers. They have it more creative. Teachers don’t need to follow curriculum exactly. It is up to them what they want to teach and how they want to teach. Their lessons are 90 minutes long, so they have more time to think, focus on the subject, work in groups or on projects. As I mentioned, working in groups is a popular way to learn in Denmark. Teachers believe that it is a way how students can get along and become friends. It is normal for them to introduce a theme and students will work in groups out of the classroom. The interesting thing is that in schools they have made places where students can work on group projects or on homework in silence. It is accommodated by pillows, sitting bags and comfy tables and chairs. Students can learn from beginning how to cooperate and search information on the web, how to make arguments or how to express their opinions.

What we also enjoyed was that their projects are so interesting and educative. But educative in a funny way. For example, they were growing soya beans, they had an app where they could check what the bean needs. If it has enough water, sun and so on. Another project was in the technical gymnasium where students in the 1th grade were supposed to design, draw and built a vehicle. The interesting thing was that at the end of the year they had a competition with them. The fastest vehicle won the money prize. Students were creative, working in groups, building real objects and motivated by prizes.

Breathtaking was also student’s relationship with teachers. We could see that they are like a big family. In Denmark it is normal that students are calling teachers by their first name. No professor or other titles, just by first name. Teachers act friendly and students are not afraid to talk to them, talk about intimacy, problems, grades, talk about actually everything they are currently struggling with. They even have a secret room where they can talk in privacy. The thing that we noticed as righteous was that schools are giving the opportunity to study to children from unstable families or children in difficult life situations. For example, now students from Ukraine. The school is paying for they lunch and also, they can take a shower in school. And all this is happening in total confidentiality. By this they prevent bullying.

Another amazing thing was their skills in English. We were surprised how good they can speak in English in primary school. Children in 5th grade could speak English fluently. We were wondering how it is possible that they are so good and the secret is that they have television stations in English. In Denmark they don’t dub films or other stuff. Another thing is the opportunity to travel abroad that the school gives them. They collaborate with foreign countries thanks to Erasmus and international projects. They want to show students as much as they can and improve them in foreign languages.

We would also like to bring up that there are no application tests for high schools in Denmark. Of course, they consider student’s grades but applicants do not have to deal with stressful situations and we think that it should be like that everywhere. It is not easy to deliver the best performance under the pressure. Tests and mostly oral tests make you question if you are good enough to pass it even though it is unreasonable, then because of the stress your mind becomes a mess and there is a big chance to fail despite of you being an excellent student. We could have seen clearly, that students were excited to explore new things without being worried if they would ask a silly question for example, and overall questioning themselves. From our point of view, it is because they are not that often exposed to stress in school, or they can simply deal with it in a creative way.

There was another fascinating information that we’ve got, students are getting paid from their government if they are enrolled in a university. Every one of us was amazed by that. "The aim of the support scheme is to ensure that it is not the social and economic standing of potential students but abilities and interests that decides about educational success," Mads Hammer Larsen, a press spokesperson for the Danish Ministry of Education, told The Washington Post. To reflect on the quotation, students are thanks to that able to ensure their basic needs without working and still have plenty of time for studying.

Another thing worthy of remark were unisex toilets. It is not that common in Slovakia to see this, so we found it really revolutionary. People from school haven’t even noticed it but we have seen it as a really nice way to support LGBTI+ community and also as a way of canceling endless differentiation between feminine and masculine needs.

To sum up, in our opinion we took a lot from this project because it was not just about school and education, it taught us a lot about self-improvement, self esteem and last but not least about understanding others. We feel like everyone of us came back to Slovakia as a little more mature and grown person. This whole experience was memorable and we will always keep in minds what we have learned there.