Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A gymnasium is a type of school of secondary education in parts of Europe. The word "γυμνασιον" (gymnasion) was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual education of young men.
In the German-speaking, the Scandinavian and the Benelux countries gymnasium has, at least since the Reformation in the 16th century, had the meaning of a secondary school preparing for higher education at university. They are thus meant for the more theoretically-minded students, who are sifted out at about the age of 10–13. In addition to the usual curriculum, students of a gymnasium often learn Latin and Greek.
Some gymnasiums have a general education, others have a specific focus. (This also differs per country.) The three traditional branches are
- humanistic education (specialising in ancient languages, like Latin and Greek)
- modern languages
- mathematical-scientific education
Nowadays a number of other areas of specialisation exist, like Gymnasiums specialising in art or sports.
At some countries there is a notion of progymnasium, which is equivalent to beginning classes of the full gymnasium, with the rights to continue education in a gymnasium. Here, the prefix "pro" means "instead of".
In Italy the first two years of high school are called Gymnasium if the high school chosen is a classical lyceum (a particular secondary school focusing on latin and greek as well as Literature)
Countries with Gymnasium schools
- Argentina Only the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires (6 years starting at age 12/13)
- Austria (ends with Matura)
- Belgium (?)
- Bulgaria (?)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (4 years, starting at age 14/15, ends with Matura)
- Croatia (4 years, starting at age 14/15, ends with Matura)
- Czech Republic (4 years starting at age 13/14; 8 years starting at age 9/10; both end with a Maturita)
- Denmark (3 years, starting after 9 or 10 years of primary school)
- Estonia (3 years, after 9 years of primary school)
- Finland (2-4 years (most people spend 3 years), starting usually at age 15/16, graduation after passing the Matriculation Examination)
- Germany (8 or 9 years (depending on Bundesland), starting at 5th (at age 10) or 7th grade, Abitur in 12th or 13th grade). Also, there are progymnasiums.
- Hungary (4/6 years, starting after 8/6 years of primary school, ends with Matura)
- Iceland (usually 4 years, starting at age 15/16 after 10 years of elementary school)
- Liechtenstein (ends with Matura)
- Latvia (3 years, after 9 years of primary school)
- Lithuania (?)
- Luxembourg (?)
- Republic of Macedonia (4 years, starting at age 14)
- Netherlands (6 years, starting at age 12/13)
- Poland (3 years, starting at age 13/14, ends with an exam)
- Serbia (4 years, ends with Matura)
- Slovakia (4 years starting at age 13/14; 8 years starting at age 9/10; both end with a Maturita)
- Slovenia (4 years, starting at age 14/15, ends with Matura)
- Sweden (3 years), starting after 9 years of primary school)
- Switzerland (usually 4 years, after 6 years of primary and 2 or 3 years of secondary school, ends with Matura)
The final degree is called Abitur, Artium , Matura or Student and it usually opens the way to professional schools directly. The final two or three years at a Gymnasium are therefore equivalent to the first two years at a US college.
Relationship with other education facilities
In countries like Croatia, most university faculties only accept students from secondary schools that last four years (rather than three). This includes all Gymnasium students but only a part of vocational high schools, in effect making Gymnasium the preferred choice for all pupils aiming for university diplomas.
In Germany, other types of secondary school are called Realschule, Hauptschule and Gesamtschule. These are attended by about two thirds of the students. A Gesamtschule largely corresponds to an American high school. Students who graduate from Realschule or Hauptschule (usually after year 9 or 10) continue their schooling at a vocational school until they have full job qualifications. These two types of German secondary school are practically unknown in other parts of the world.
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