Starting school in Germany: The relationship between education and social justice discussed in comparison with the situation in Australia

Year: 2005

Author: Deckert-Peaceman, Heike

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is an ongoing and increasing debate worldwide over the best time to start formal education and on how to deal with the transition from a play-based learning to the initial stage of a formal curriculum. Crucial aspects being discussed are: readiness for school, curriculum concepts, institutional differences between early childhood education and school, and the cultural understanding of what it means to be a child. Modern societies vary in their answers to these questions. International studies(OECD and others) comparing students’ performance, conceptualize this theme mainly from the perspective of later success or failure in school. In the case of Germany, they indicate a strong nexus between social origin, understood as cultural capital(Bourdieu), and school performance. The German system is considered the most unjust of all countries compared. The paper is based on a beginning empirical research project titled “Cultural meaning of starting school in Germany in comparison with Australia, and Canada”. It will discuss the crucial role of this nexus in respect to starting school from a comparative cultural perspective and will focus primarily on rituals.