Wednesday, February 27, 2013

His: Living in America 2/28/2013

A photo of my second grade class. Gotta love the uniforms!
          It wasn't long until I learned that school in America was very different to how I remember school growing up in Australia. The hours may have been similar but a lot of aspects of K-12 education are quite different. I thought this would be a great topic for this week's "Living in America" so here is my list of major differences:

  • School Year: The Australian school year runs from late January to December. (Sometimes the first day of school would be my birthday which I hated) In America the school year starts in September and ends in June. 
  • Summer Vacation: I was always jealous of the American kids in movies that got 2 months off for summer vacation where I only got a measly 5-6 weeks. What I didn't realize is that although American children got a nice long summer break, they got stiffed during the rest of the year. Basically you get a few days off for Thanksgiving, a week or so for Christmas and a week for Spring Break. In Australia we got around 6 weeks off for summer break but then had 2 weeks off after each 10 week term. It worked out pretty well as we got a nice break every couple of months.
  • Uniforms: Very few public schools in America wear uniforms, although a lot of private schools do require them. I remember the first time I went into an American classroom and saw all of the kids in different clothes. At first I thought it must have been an "out of uniform day" but quickly remembered that the kids did not wear uniforms. In Australia all schools including public schools require students to wear uniforms. They tended to be a little on the ugly side sometimes but we didn't have to worry about what we were going to wear each day.
  • Source
  •  School Buses: The yellow school bus is an iconic American symbol. Just about every city and county in America has a fleet of these buses and they carry millions of children to and from school each day. In Australia there is no dedicated school buses. Instead each city has a contract with a bus company to transport school children to and from school each day. Often the buses are regular public transit buses that are used for school transport in the morning and afternoon and then returned to regular public transit use for the rest of the day.
  • Recess: In American schools recess is something only elementary school students (K-5) enjoy. After that you have to wait till lunch to enjoy a bite to eat. In Australian schools all students, even the 12th graders get a 20 minute break for recess. I loved recess and looked forward to the short break to grab a bit to eat or run around outside and expend some energy.
I could easily go on about even more differences like Australian schools lack of middle school and sit down cafeterias and American schools not having cool field trips like we enjoyed in my schools but that will be saved for a future post.

Question for the week: What was your favourite thing about school and your least favourite?

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