Education 5 – When I went to school

Text read by Mary Peters. (Please note the audio text differs slightly from the written text due to last-minute changes in the written text).

Julia from Mannheim describes her schooling.

I went to school in Mannheim, Germany from 1997 to 2010. Generally, we had classes from 8 am to 1 pm, Monday to Friday, depending on the year and the class. Most lessons were 45 minutes in duration, but we also had 90-minute lessons for compulsory subjects such as Maths and German.

Class sizes tended to vary.  In French, we were only seven pupils, which was great because you could learn better in a class with seven than thirty. There had to be a minimum of five pupils per class. I remember once there was a physics class with five pupils. We could change our “core subjects” if we wanted to. By the end of the year, there was only one pupil left in that class. We joked if the teacher used the board or wrote directly into the pupil’s notebook.

We had many subjects, including German, Maths, English, French, Spanish, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Music, Art, Sports, Geography, Social Studies. In my last two years, I could choose the subjects. In grade 7, I could choose between French or Latin. chose French. It is such a beautiful language, and Latin had limited use for me. I thought it was a dead language. Then, in grade 9 we could either choose between Spanish or Science & Technology.

German and Maths were compulsory subjects. You also had to choose a foreign language, and a science. My “Abitur” was in German, Maths, French, English. These were the subjects that were tested.

We used books, the blackboard, the OHP and we had a computer room. I remember my first email address; we were in the 8th grade, and the teacher said we would all need email addresses in the future. I used my school email address many years later. I used the Internet at home to prepare for presentations, but we did not use it at school.

I also attended some seminar courses called “Schüler Ingenieur Akademie”. It was a project in which different schools and local companies participated together with the University of Applied Sciences.

As a team, we built a little robot, solder all the pieces together, learned how to programme it. It was fun. It was the closest thing to my future career. The programme started in year 12 and it lasted about 15 months. We met for one afternoon every week, often on a Friday.

Our work could be credited towards the Abitur. I had to apply to participate in this project. This programme was special because it was organised by companies as well. I do not know if the companies were “talent scouting” but certainly it gave us an idea of what companies were about. It was kind of advertising for being an engineer, which I now am.

The lessons were very interactive. The organisers wanted us to participate, to exchange thoughts, to discuss. The problem was, as the pupils got older, they did not want to participate any longer. Only the truly enthusiastic stuck it to the end.

I think the academy was good preparation for my life. In school, you learn how to socialise, communicate, get along. But much of the content in the subjects I no longer really use.  But one can never tell. I wish I had paid more attention to German grammar because it is so important in my current job.

Our teachers were super friendly. I know they went to field trips with us, which they did not have to do. Some teachers invited us to their homes for dinner, to talk about different things. We were treated as young adults.

My German teacher in the Abitur class still stands out. We had to read certain books to prepare for the Abitur. It was so much fun. He was a genius at explaining.  Nobody wanted to read Goethe’s “Faust”.  But the way he discussed the play with us made it fun and exciting.  We also had to read, “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. How he explained the books to us, his thoughts! I think I can still remember every book we discussed.

It is hard to compare my schooling years with those today. I do not really know anybody close enough who goes to school at the moment. What I hear during the pandemic is that the use of technology in classrooms has not developed that much.

Most of the time I enjoyed going to school. I liked seeing my friends, I think I liked learning. Sometimes I miss seeing the same people every day. The friends I travel with are from school and we are still in contact.

But going back to school? Phew! No! Now it would be boring. With the knowledge and experience you have gained; it wouldn’t be that challenging. But on the other hand, does learning ever stop?

Education 3, When I went to school.

Carolina, who lives in Wissembourg, went to school in Lisbon.

I went to a school in the suburbs of Lisbon from 1997 to 2010. We usually had classes Monday to Friday, from 8.30 am to 5 pm with 2 afternoons free. Always Wednesday, the other one changed every term. There were about 30 of us in a class.

In the beginning, when we were between 6 and 10 years old, we had Portuguese, History, Social Studies, Maths, Geography, Music and Sports.

Then, when we were older, up to about aged 15 we learned Portuguese, History, English, French, Art, and Sports.

Then in the final three years, things changed. I could choose from different options. I chose the Science and Technology path, (Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Portuguese). For me it was easy, I liked maths. The other options were not for me. I was not great at Maths, but even worse at humanities. And for the future, it was better to go this way. 

For the core subjects, you had 2 lessons per week of 90 minutes each. The other subjects: only 45 minutes. For the most important core subjects, we had 3 units.

My best friend chose languages. So, I was alone in my group. I did not see her that often, we did not have the same interests either. But we are still in contact today.

Until the last 3 years, the teaching was very theoretical. There were PowerPoint presentations, we had to ask and answer questions and do group tasks. It was interactive, with a lot of dialogue and a lot of homework. In the beginning, on the weekends, we had so much homework, that I met my friends in the library. We studied and researched together. We had more contact and not everyone was at home with Google.

In the last 3 years, we started to get our hands dirty. We had a lab, a lot of biology and chemistry lessons. We did experiments, calculations, and interpreted the results, and wrote reports. We spent a lot of time outside for our physics lessons and completed simple experiments and measurements. It was fun.

For Portuguese, we read Portuguese literature. But because it was not my thing, I always looked for summaries from other students. One book did capture my attention. It was The City of the Blind, written by José Saramago. I read it when I was 15 but did not quite understand it. It’s good, very deep, I wanted to read it.  

I had average marks. It was enough to get through. Grading was from 1 to 20 with 20 being the highest score. You needed a 10 in all subjects. I had 10 in maths and sports. It was the minimum to get through. I did not have much motivation because my learning environment was difficult. I did not want to go home. My teachers just said I had to concentrate more, work harder. Others tried to motivate me, but I did not understand their message. During my school years, I lacked a healthy learning environment.

I graduated and then I started university and studied physiotherapy. My grades were average, I was not motivated, unsure of my choice of subject, so I decided to quit after one semester. I took some time out and had time for myself. My motivation returned and I caught up on everything, repeated my A-levels. I studied on my own, at home. I had an average score of 18 points. I did not do all subjects, just focused on science. Then I was accepted in the science faculty and I started to study Energy and Environmental Engineering.

Teaching materials? Some teachers used PowerPoint, but often it was a normal textbook and a board. We had notebooks and something to write with. For science, the school provided the material.

For me, school alone is not there to prepare one for life. One learns how to think and how to solve problems. I did not have that expectation. Today, for my work, I probably apply around 20% of what I studied at University. However, our teachers taught us how to think, find information and apply it outside of the classroom. The role of teachers should be to show us which tools are available and challenge us to implement them on a daily basis.

My favourite teacher was a Russian woman who taught calculus and algebra. She was cold, militaristic, polite, and extremely disciplined. Her intentions were good. Despite the subject being difficult, it was fundamental because it served as the basis for our lessons in the future. It was clear to me that she wanted the best for us. She tried to do her best. She challenged us and I love challenges.

I cannot say much about schools today. I have too little contact. But, I have the impression that many of today’s children spend a lot of time in front of screens. Adults are partially responsible for this. Children have more difficulties with social interaction.

I liked going to school. I have fond memories of this time.

To stop learning? Never!


Do you have a comment?

En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.
En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

More Cheese

Julia from Mannheim asked Emilie in England some probing questions.

How do I recognize what a quality cheese looks like? Smell, colour? 

That’s a difficult question as each cheese has its own taste profile so you will look for different smell, flavour, appearance and texture characteristics for each cheese. But for all cheeses, you want to avoid the same default such as unwanted moulds or yeasts which can give strange colours (green, blue, bright yellow or black). You don’t want the cheese to be too salty or bitter and you don’t want an aroma such as ammonia. A high-quality cheese will allow you to find a delicate balance within its aroma and flavour and brings you the sensation that you want more.

Are there cheese tastings? If so, what do you eat and drink with the cheese to enhance it?


Yes, there are lots of cheese tastings. If you do a cheese tasting just to identify the quality or taste profile of several kinds of cheese, you will only drink water. As the objective If to clear your mouth from any remaining flavour before tasting another cheese, you will as well eat a piece of apple or grape. Having said that, if you do a cheese tasting for the pleasure, most of the time, it will be organised as a cheese and wine evening. In this case, you can almost find a different wine for each cheese and of course, don’t forget the biscuits or the bread.

How many different types of cheese are there – is there some kind of cheese register? 

Keeping in mind that only France itself is called the country of 1,000 cheeses, there are a lot of different cheeses in the world and new ones are developed every year. I am not sure that there is a register which will be a full list of existing cheeses, but you can find lots of books giving you the list of the most well-known cheeses, the PDO cheeses (Protected Designation of Origin) or a list of cheeses by big categories (hard cheeses / soft cheeses / fresh cheeses/cow’s milk cheeses/sheep’s milk cheeses/goat’s milk cheeses/ buffalo’s milk cheeses…)

Which nationality prefers which cheese? (Which French region prefers which cheese?) 

I can mainly talk about France and the United Kingdom. In France, you can almost identify the preferred cheeses by looking at which cheeses are manufactured in the area. Normandy, Britany, and North are keen on soft cheeses, Mountain areas, you will find more hard cheeses and in the Pyrenees, most hard cheeses made from sheep’s milk. In the centre & west of France, they love goat’s milk cheeses and in Bourgogne, you will find a lot of cheeses which have been infused with alcohol. In the UK, people are quite adventurous and because the main cheese here is the cheddar, they will be happy to try a lot of different cheese wherever you go in the country.

How do you find a good cheese producer? 

When we look for a new partner/cheese manufacturer, we look for a family company that has a passion for its products and which will not just sell cheeses but also, love, history and quality. We also want to work with companies that work closely with farmers.

Cow, Sheep and Goat are there other animals?
 
These are the 3 main species, but you can also make cheese with buffalo’s milk (Mozzarella)

Can you make synthetic cheese – not from animal milk? (What do Vegans do when it comes to cheese?) 

You find on the market more and more vegan “cheeses” mainly, they are manufactured to try to be close in taste to cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan or feta. They are plant-based products made mainly using coconut oil, modified potato starch, oat fibre, maize starch.

What is the most exotic / most expensive cheese, if it exists?  

In France, I will say that it is a mountain hard cheese called Beaufort.

What is the optimum temperature for cheese? Do different cheeses have different optimum temperatures? 

The optimum temperature for cheese is important during the maturation stage of the production process. It can go from 10 degrees to 20 degrees depending on the cheese and sometimes changes during the maturation process. After that, when cheeses are packed, they are all stored at refrigerated temperature. For a soft and hard cheese, we also recommend taking them out of the fridge between 30 minutes to 1 hour before eating them to enhance their flavours.

When was cheese first produced? What is the history of cheese? 

From my knowledge, no one really knows who made the first cheese, but some historian found traces of cheese beginning more than 7,000 years ago. Having said that, all traditional cheeses, especially those which have a Protective Designation of Origin have their own history.

What is it that makes cheese “stink”? 

Most of the time, it comes from the type of starter cultures (yeast and moulds) used in the milk which helps to develop a specific aroma and flavour. It can be also linked to specific steps during the production process such as rind washing.

Can you really tell the difference in cheese if the animal eats good grass or excellent grass, or is it from Normandy, Bourgogne, or Bretagne? 

Telling the difference linked to the type of food given to the cows is possible but especially between cows eating outside fresh grass and cows being inside eating fermented food. You can also see the difference between winter milk and summer milk because the grass is richer during summer and contains flowers. You will also have differences between mountain milk and valley one. After this, it becomes difficult to make difference between French areas for example but more because you cannot compare similar cheeses to anything else. You could do the difference between some Normandy butter and British ones.

What does it require to become a cheese producer? What is the training required? 

You have some great schools to become a cheesemaker, but I will say that the best way to become a good cheesemaker is, on top of patience and passion, spending time with someone who manufactures cheeses for a long time. There is nothing better than learning from someone who has the experience and the knowledge and can show you how the milk can react differently according to the season, the weather or other small parameters.

How do you make cheese? What are the steps? 

Each type of cheeses has its own production process but the main steps are: receive the milk on site, adjust the quantity of fat if needed, pasteurise the milk if needed, add some starter cultures and then leave the time for the starter to do their action during the fermentation. You will then add some rennet or coagulant in order to obtain some curd and get rid of the whey. When the curd has the right consistency, you will do the moulding. Some cheeses can then be pressed. The following step will be the draining and the acidification of the cheese before the salting (dry salting or in brine). After this, the cheese will mature before being sometimes cut and packed to be ready to be dispatched.

How can you learn about cheese? 

The best way to learn about cheese is going to visit some sites when you are on holiday but otherwise, you have lots of books giving the stories and characteristics of the main cheeses or even the internet.

Do you have a comment?

En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.
En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

Education 4, When I went to school.

Monique & Bernard, Seebach, France

“I went to the protestant school in Seebach. In winter, three pupils were responsible for heating the classroom with wood,” said Bernard.
Monique, “I went to the mixed (protestant/catholic) school in Wingen. The teacher was responsible for the heating. We only had wood burners, no electric heating or oil heating.”

We went to school in the 1960s and 1970s. Bernard, “I went to the kindergarten in Hunspach for two years and then for one year in Seebach. Then I went to the elementary school in Seebach, when I was six.” Monique, “I started school in 1966, we did not have a kindergarten in Wingen. The elementary school was in a separate building.”

We had lessons from 8 am to 11 am and then 1 pm to 4 pm. We did not have school on Wednesdays but instead, on Saturday mornings. “Because there were too few children, we had two classes in the same classroom”, said Monique.

Bernard, “Our lessons were not by the hour, they were by the half-day. So, Monday mornings perhaps, we had maths. Later in the collège in Wissembourg we had 60-minute lessons, always in different subjects.”

In Seebach, we had about 15 to 16 pupils per class. Always the same group. In the “collège” we were 25 – 30 pupils. The classrooms were full. Boys and girls were together. The days were long, especially when we to the collège and the Lycée. We left home by 7 am and got back home at 6 pm. We had lunch in the school canteen. In Winter, it was dark when we went from home to school and back.

We had Maths, French, History, Geography, Religion, Sports, Science, German (first foreign language), Latin, a little English. It was enough! The day was full.
“I liked Geography, History and Sports,” said Bernard.
Monique, “I liked French, German and Science”.

Life at elementary school was strict. If we made some mischief, the teacher hit us on the fingers with a ruler. Later, in collège, it depended on the teacher. “Our maths teacher was very, very strict. But we respected him. He was very authoritarian. But then, other teachers were less strict. The sports teacher was more relaxed than the French or Mathematics teacher. We respected them because our parents were also very strict. They did not want to have problems with our teachers.”

In the elementary school, we had pictures on the wall for us to learn the words. The teacher turned the pictures so that we trained our memories. We also had to learn the multiplication tables off by heart. This was the first. Every morning, we had mathematics drill.

In Geography, we had a map of the world. The teacher had a long wooden pointer, he pointed the country on the map. He asked us what country or French region it was, and which city was the capital or principal city. Then we learned the rivers, how long they are, where they flowed to. We had to repeat the answers. Then we had to write a test.

We had books with a lot of pictures, perhaps more than today. In elementary school, we used ink and wrote with a feather. Later, we were allowed to use a fountain pen. We had exercise books for French dictation, and for all subjects. Each exercise book had a different colour for each subject. The textbooks were owned by the school. They were given to us at the beginning of the school year and we had to return them at the end of the year. It was our responsibility to keep them in good condition for the next student. The best memory for both was, “we used a blackboard and chalk.”

We learned to respect in Elementary school. In Collège and in the Lycée we learned the subject and the preparation for the future and the Bac.  But after the Lycée, the learning really started. The Bac was the ticket to the next level. If you did not have the Bac, you went to professional training schools and then you could get a job. In our time, it was very easy to get a job.

Bernard, “When you were 14 (after the elementary school) you had the choice to go to collège or do an apprenticeship in a company.”
“But the system had changed when I finished Elementary school,” said Monique.

The teachers were very humane. They were good, you could talk with them, but we didn’t really do that. You could trust the teacher. (If you behaved).

We did not really have any favourite teachers.
Bernard, “The best teacher for me was in elementary school in Seebach. Mr Schwarz. He was professional, he did not differentiate between the children, all children were equal. You learned things from him. This was the basis.”

Bernard, “In elementary class, one month before Christmas we learned and sang the text of a Christmas carol every day. Every year it was a German carol (not a French carol) special for the Christmas event in our church. In our time, Mass was in German. It was very boring because we heard the same carol for one month.”

Monique, “We learned the spelling and the words with pictures on the wall. Every day, the teacher flipped them, and we gave the answers. For all correct answers, we received one point. For ten points, we received a picture of animals. It was a big challenge for pupils.

Our teaching methods were more basic, the material was simple. We discovered the world only via books and maps. Today, methods are more advanced and different. Schools use computers and the Internet.

“I suppose it hasn’t changed much. We liked going to school, sometimes we didn’t. When we had difficult times, it wasn’t so much fun.” said Monique.

We would like to go to school today only for a short time to discover the current methods and new technologies.

We stopped learning with 18. We started to work.

Cheese 1

Questions to Emilie from Monique & Bernard, Seebach, France

In November 2020, (Brida Journal 48/20) Emilie, originally from Normandy, spoke about her new life in England. We agreed to continue to explore the world of cheese and so, several of you asked questions. Since then, the Pandemic has struck harder, the United Kingdom left the European Union. Both have made life a little more complicated, but Emilie found the time to answer everybody’s questions. We start with Monique and Bernard.

A huge thank you to Emilie. I look forward to a drink in the pub with you both as soon as the mess is over.  

  1. What sort of cheese do you import? 
    We import cheeses from all areas of France. The idea was to have a full French cheese board. Most of the cheeses we supply are PDO cheese (Protected designation of Origin)

  2. Are the cheeses hard cheeses or soft cheeses? 
    We have both, soft and hard cheeses.

  3. Are the cheeses artisan products or industrial products? 
    We work in partnership with family companies so even if the cheeses can be classified as industrial, we don’t work with big production sites. Our partners are cheese makers since several generations and are dedicated to keep traditional production processes.

  4. What types of milk? Goats, sheep’s or cow? 
    We have in our range all types of milk (cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk) except buffalo’s milk. For each type of milk, we can have soft and hard cheeses.

  5. Is the cheese pasteurized or unpasteurized? 
    We are lucky enough to supply pasteurised and unpasteurised cheeses even if supplying unpasteurised cheeses on the UK market is more challenging.

  6. How is the cheese packaged? (box or in paper or plastic). 
    The packaging will change depending on the products. Most of the hard cheeses are under film with labels on top. Soft cheeses will be more under paper and sometimes, they are after packed with a cardboard sleeve (Chaource) or in a wooden box (Camembert). Some cheeses can be presented on small wooden boards and then put under film (mainly soft goat’s milk cheeses and few cows’ milk cheeses). Few cheeses can be in plastic shell as they become really soft over time (Saint Félicien du Dauphiné)

  7. Is the cheese packaged for wholesale or retail? 
    We work mainly with British retailers.

  8. How fresh is the cheese? 
    The cheeses we sell are made, matured and packed but depending of the cheese, the maturation time can vary from few days (soft cheeses) to several months. We sell a Comté PDO which is matured for 18 months

  9. How long is the shelf life? 
    The shelf life is linked to the type of cheese and the type of packaging. For pre-packed cheeses, it can go from 28 days to 100 days shelf life from packing. Typically, cut hard cheeses will have longer shelf life than cut soft cheeses. Whole soft cheeses have shelf life typically around 40-50 days from packing.

  10. What is the fat content? 
    Fat content will vary depending of the production process. If you take a cheese made from full fat milk, you will have a fat content around 20g per 100g. We sell also cheese made from milk enriched with cream. The fat content will be then more around 30g per 100g. You can find on the market reduced fat cheeses, but we don’t have this type of cheeses in our range.

  11. Do the producers you buy from also sell in France? 
    All our partners/production sites are located in France and manufacture cheese which are sold in France and a lot of other countries.

  12. Is the cheese produced just for export? (just to the UK) 
    We don’t sell cheeses which are only manufactured for the UK market. Our objective is to sell traditional French cheeses, a lot of them are protected by PDO certification, and therefore, those cheeses are available in a lot of countries.


Do you have a comment?

En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.
En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.