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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 16:04 GMT
'Teacher hate' book a German hit
Gerlinde Unverzagt
The true identity of "Lotte Kuehn" only came to light after publication
A new bestseller in Germany has accused the country's teachers of idleness and incompetence.

It also blames them for the country's poor performance in European literacy and numeracy league tables.

The Teacher Hate Book: A Mother Gets Even, written by journalist Gerlinde Unverzagt under the pseudonym Lotte Kuehn, has topped the charts of the German version of internet retailer Amazon.

Ms Unverzagt, who has written several books about education and child-rearing, told BBC World Service's Outlook programme that she wrote the book because she believes the "majority" of Germany's teachers are bad, and "don't do their job well".

"Additionally, they are state officials, they can never be fired, and are paid by the number of years in the job and not paid based on their performance," she said.

'Attitude of respect'

Ms Unverzagt's work is the latest in a series of Hasserbuecher ("hater-books"), in which authors explain why they hate aspects of German life, such as the train service or the post office.

She is particularly critical of primary school teachers, who she said behave like "silly nurses".

"They fear working with the children," she added.

"In the first three years, they let the children write how they want - only in the fourth year do they make them practise the correct spelling, or do their times tables up to 10.

"By then it's too late to do something. If you let the children play for three years, they will get used to parties. Now the teachers are treating me like a party-pooper."

Josef Kraus
It is just stirring up a lot of negative emotions between parents and teachers
Josef Kraus, German teachers' union
But she said she had received "hundreds" of e-mails from parents throughout Germany giving their support.

"They all say, 'please be strong, and say it again and again - you exactly described the school system we have'."

She said she missed an "attitude of respect" for the pupils, and alleged that teachers act as if they do not like the pupils.

"They don't want to motivate and bring the children up - they just want to select," she said.

"They are frustrating the children."

The book does suggest some positive ideas, including higher pay for good teachers - while urging the firing of others.

She also urged anyone planning on a teaching career to think hard about the personality needed to be a good teacher.

'Negative emotions'

Ms Unverzagt said she was inspired when, on a visit to England, she saw a truck with a sign reading "how is my driving?"

"I thought, 'what a very good idea' - what if a teacher wears a button on his jacket - 'how is my teaching?'," she said.

"It is impossible to get the number or e-mail address of a teacher in Germany. It would be easier to get the phone number of the British Queen than that of the teacher of a 10th-grade class in Germany."

However, many teachers in Germany have been giving the book very low marks.

"I'm very unhappy with the title of this book," explained Josef Kraus, president of Germany's teacher's union - the Deutscher Lehrerverband.

"It is just stirring up a lot of negative emotions between parents and teachers."

He stressed that while it was certainly true that Germany's 800,000 teachers had to be "prepared to take criticism", a book with such a title "is not going to bring people together".

He pointed out that 10 teachers had been murdered in Germany in recent years, and said he believed the book would make things worse, and "increase aggression between teachers and parents".

"It's certainly not going to motivate a dialogue between the two most important partners in bringing up children - it's going to harden the front and make matters worse."


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