Przyszło mi napisać esej ukazujący podobieństwa lub różnice albo jedno i drigie razem. Temat wymyśliłam sobie sama, bo te z podręcznika były okrutnie nudne. Nauczycielka zaakceptowała temat w którym porównuję szkołę polską do tej tutaj.
Każdego dnia porównuję. Róże sprawy, róźne rzeczy. I nie tylko między Stanami a Polską. Do swoich porównań dołączam również doświadczenia z Austrii. Uparcie szukam złotego środka. W moim idealnym świecie, w moich marzeniach, taki złoty środek występuje. Ale realny świat nie jest idealny…
Another Brick in the Wall
Years ago when I lived and went to school in Poland, my favorite TV show was Beverly Hills 90210. Every week I compared the gray reality of my own high school to the colorful version of this Hollywood ideal. Oh, how I dreamt of being a student at Beverly High! Since then I have talked to many people who had attended high schools in the U.S. I have been attending a junior college, which in many respects is similar to high school, for more than a year. Now I know the real American school life, and I can compare it to what I remember from my own school experience in Poland. American and Polish schools differ greatly in terms of the relationship between students and teachers, the grading system, and the amount of autonomy that individual students have in the structuring of their learning process.
First, the relationships between students and teachers are much more formal and strict in Polish schools then they are in American schools. Polish teachers are the intellectual authorities in the society. During the Dark Ages of the communism era, they were often the guardians of the Polish traditions, history, and religion. They taught values that were opposite to the official party line. And for this they were, and still are, much respected. Their position in society is such that they demand respect, not only from students but also from students’ parents. Unfortunately, many teachers in Poland abuse this high status and the power that comes with it by considering themselves better than everyone else. They do not respect students: they humiliate them, call them names, and kill their enthusiasm. On the other hand, teachers in America consider themselves partners of the students rather then dictators. Their mission is to motivate students and to help them achieve their full potential. In doing so, they respect every single student, even those who have learning problems and those who are simply lazy. Sadly, their hard work and good will towards students does not mean that they get respect in the classroom. Sometimes I feel that American teachers are afraid to demand respect from students because by doing so, they could be perceived as intolerant or insensitive. The result is that students often take advantage of the situation: they are tardy, they do not do assignments, they send text messages during class, and they disturb others. I think that Polish teachers require too much respect, while American teachers do not require any. A happy medium would probably be the best way for an ideal school.
Second, Polish and American schools use a very different system for grading the progress of students. While Polish schools use numerical grades (1 to 6), American grades are letters (F to A). But the differences are much deeper than just this. In Poland grades are used mostly to apprise students’ knowledge, memorization, and understanding of the subject. In the U.S. grades serve as an important self-evaluation tool for the students by showing them in which areas they are deficient. Another big difference is the fact that Polish schools give separate grades for behavior, whereas in the U.S. behavior problems, like tardiness, often lower individual subject grades.
Third, the American school system leaves much more freedom to the individual students in selecting when to take classes than the Polish one. The educational system in Poland is very rigid. The Ministry of Education decides which subjects will be taught in each semester in every high school and college in Poland. The students do not have any choice in what classes to take. Because of that, they always go through school as one group, taking the same classes together. In contrast, American students are required to take a certain number of credits and some core subjects. The result of this is that a student who fails one subject in a Polish high school must repeat the entire year, while in America he simply needs to repeat the class that he has failed, which he can often do during a summer session. The American system teaches individual responsibility and independence. By comparison, students in Poland identify with a group and learn to rely on the organization rather than on themselves. One positive aspect of this that I know from my own experience is that friendships that develop in school are deeper and last forever.
American and Polish students that attend high schools and colleges go through very different experiences. Teachers in the U.S. are their partners who do not have to be respected or feared but who motivate them to work and to achieve. Individualism is strongly encouraged and praised. Polish schools are a lot like a boot camp. Teachers must be respected and feared. Group behavior and group responsibility are promoted. In my opinion, an ideal school would have some aspects of both educational systems: more respect for students and also for teachers, more individuality, and also more integration with a group. But a school like this exists only in the 90210 zip code.