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Without a ruler, a form and verses by heart: what surprised me about the American school


Source: Today

The classroom and teachers change annually, history and geography are optional items.

Photo: Shutterstock

Not so long ago, Sasha Carter was a schoolgirl and studied in America - in a high school in Texas. There she was fascinated by the huge number of opportunities for self-expression. Although now, according to her, she believes that freedom and diversity greatly distract young minds from the very process of education. The girl shared her impressions of the American education system with “Today".

Structurally, the American school system is not much different from the Ukrainian one and is represented by preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. But in essence, these are two different worlds of pedagogy. The differences start from the first day of school. In Ukraine, September 1 is the Day of Knowledge, in fact - a holiday. There is nothing of the kind in the USA, here the “day of knowledge” is no different from the rest of the school year. There is no solemn ruler, no white bows, let alone bouquets for teachers and a lesson on how to love your homeland. And American children begin to gnaw the granite of science from the age of five. The last bell for them usually sounds at 19.

The American education system is decentralized, so the state and its districts are given the opportunity to independently determine the start date of the school year. For example, my school year began on 15 of September, when the extreme Texas heat gradually subsides. Natural factors, namely, hot and prone to cataclysms summer and autumn, are taken into account in Florida, where traditionally the first students in the States sit at their desks between 15 and 22 of August. Thus, let’s say, in Orlando you can meet both schoolchildren and students idly walking on vacation.

Americans can’t even have special ties to school friends and nostalgia for the school years spent together, since the composition of the classes changes annually, as does the favorite teacher, because they also change. The purpose of this practice is to develop in children a habit of normal perception of a new environment, the ability to join an unfamiliar team and adapt to the requirements of new teachers. On the one hand, this psychologically strengthens the growing Americans, but one can also note the lack of attachment, trust in the teacher, which cannot be earned in such a short time, and, as a result, the lack of authority in the person of elders.

In a word, the American school resembles a kaleidoscope. A wealth of choice can be seen in all American classes, including the dining room menu. Starting from high school, students are given the right to choose the majority of educational subjects, but there is also a compulsory program. Among the required subjects are English, mathematics, and a foreign language. Optionally, you can study geography, biology, physics, chemistry, history. As a result, most American graduates are completely unfamiliar with natural science, they can hardly determine where California is located, some may even incorrectly name the capital of their own state.

The motto of schools in the USA: "If you want to be cool - go in for sports"

On the other hand, a student's sporting achievements can become the keys to the "box of knowledge" for the successful completion of school projects and tests, which are the frame of American education, as well as admission to a prestigious college or university. The motto of the American school: "If you want to be cool - go in for sports." Only the lazy or very smart does not apply it in life. A common sight on the school playground is running "hamburgers" (such a nickname stuck in American schools for obese children). The same fat men, after physical education or even before it, crush chips with fatty minced meat and melted cheese, presented in the set of a table tray, which is not best for a growing organism. By the way, in America it is customary to eat before playing sports.

As a rule, there is no school uniform, as well as any restrictions when choosing a school wardrobe. At the same time, the external expression is cultivated in the teaching staff, so that, walking along the school corridor, you can come across a gothic metal lover or a blue-haired Malvina. Coolness is an integral part of American culture and, accordingly, education, and the fact that you are so cool depends on the cloudless life of the student. Although I have not personally been touched by such disturbing and problematic topics of American society as bullying by more successful peers or the spread of marijuana among students, but this does not mean that they were not there. And to this day, after school, you can often see the picture: a shaking car (some teenagers have been driving since 15 years, and this is also one of the cool attributes) of a high school student, stuffed with peers stained with marijuana. It’s not easy for American clever and clever women to live in the school world. For them, whom other children consider strange, special classes have been created for gifted children. It is in these classes that the real education familiar to Ukrainians begins. Based on this component of American school education, we can say that Ukrainians are an educated and gifted nation.

On the subject: How will teach your child in the American school

Parents pay a penalty for truancy

Most schools are public, they are also called public, and therefore - free, assigned to specific areas. Children visit them at the place of residence. Funding for such schools comes from the city property tax. This means that children from expensive areas have the opportunity to get a better education, and vice versa - children from dysfunctional families most often attend schools with low ratings.

God forbid, in a public school exceed the number of permits allowed without a valid reason (15 — 21 day in year). This threatens a serious trial, and even a trial of the parents. After all, taxpayers pay for the education of their children, and the state stands guard over the interests of taxpayers. There is also another side to the coin, children are required to go to school at the place of residence, regardless of the quality of education in the institution. Do not like it - use a private school, where the service costs $ 2 — 5 thousand per month, or play the lottery in an elite school, and suddenly you're lucky. Each year, such schools sell lottery tickets for approximately 15 — 20 places for those who are not able to pay for tuition on their own. The proceeds go to the needs of the institution.

School life is managed internally - among other things, the school constantly operates the PTA - Parents Teacher Association (Association of teachers and parents). This is a kind of American alternative to the parent committee, but not for each class separately, but for the school as a whole. Also, PTA is a party place for cool mummies, on which the school popularity of their children depends on it. PTA members from among parents are usually housewives, who can devote quite a lot of time to public affairs. As a parent committee in Ukrainian schools, PTA in the United States collects money for school needs.

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Just show

An ordinary American school consisted of several buildings, with an adjacent gymnasium building, a huge field for American football and a disproportionately small parking lot.

If we talk about school life from the inside, then the American school can be safely called the huge world of show business. Few children can boast of perseverance, and the concepts of lesson and discipline are far from our ideas. You can move around the classroom, and even leave the lesson without worrying that they will shout at you or scold you. Looking at teachers, one would rather think that these are failed artists than teachers who are called upon to carry a good, kind, bright education in a serious matter. Contrary to or because of this, most children like to go to school, where, first of all, they communicate.

They don’t wear school uniforms, they don’t ask to memorize poetry, and all the granite of science, which we used to carry in a heavy satchel, was placed in an iron cabinet in the hallway of the school. You do not need to carry textbooks, notebooks and rulers back and forth. At the same time, the American system, like our post-Soviet system, seeks to prepare the child as much as possible for life in the conditions of the modern surrounding adult world, sometimes acting, perhaps too intrusively, but no less efficiently. US literacy rate is 99% as of 2008 year. In 2011, 86% of people aged 25 years and older had a secondary education, and 30% of Americans had a bachelor's degree. The main language of instruction is English.

An indicator of the quality of education in a public school is its rating: it ranges from 1 to 10. The higher the better. The rating of schools is affected by a number of factors: the amount of funding (money for schools comes from the state budget and city real estate taxes), student performance, success in passing tests.

School of witches, disobedience and little gardeners

California and New York are considered the top states in terms of educational quality; the most backward are the southern states, led by Florida, which is called the "state of retirees."

The variety of American schools is also surprising. Variations of religious specialized schools cover every possible range; the existence of some of them may even raise doubts. What is the Salem Witch School in Massachusetts alone, which gives students the opportunity to study the pagan culture of that era, or the School of the Future of Philadelphia, where instead of textbooks children have computers, and instead of notebooks, electronic applications.

In Toronto (Ontario), for example, the ALPHA school has been operating since 1972, where there are no grades, no strict schedule, no homework. No one will punish a curse written in chalk on a blackboard and will not stand over the soul. Students decide for themselves how to spend the school day and what classes to attend. Classes are formed not by age, but by interests: along with mathematics and spelling, classes in modeling, cooking, and even elementary philosophy are provided. Parents' meetings are held here with children who also have the right to vote. And Mountain Mahogany School in Albuquerque, New Mexico can only be accessed by winning the lottery. And the program here is unusual - it is based on the latest research of psychologists, according to which a positive atmosphere and active involvement are the key to good learning. First of all, children are taught in it to interact with the outside world and everyday skills: sewing, cooking, gardening. Teachers jokingly refer to students as "little gardeners."

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