Eight in the morning – the bell! In Poland, at this time, parents take children to school, and teenagers travel by public transport, by bicycle, or come to school on their feet. In the United States, it’s a little different – the little ones are often transported by the famous yellow buses. Every day, nearly half a million of these vehicles across the United States drive more than 29 million children to school, and bus routes often dictate school start times. On the other hand, high school students who can apply for a driver’s license as early as the age of 16 sometimes commute to school with their own car, which is why the school’s ample parking is not a rare sight at all.
How from the movie?
In the United States, before school forever began, the day begins with an oath of allegiance to the United States flag. All the students stand intently, then read hand in hand in their hearts “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic which it represents to one undivided nation, with liberty and justice for all.” Interestingly, even before World War II, instead of students holding their hearts out in front of them, they kept their hands outstretched in front of them, but – not surprisingly – after the war, this gesture was considered controversial.
Most of the scenes we remember from American high school movies take place in the school corridors. We all know that famous girls staring at glasses standing next to famous metal cupboards is a painful idea, and at the same time completely incorrect. In American schools, breaks are shorter, about five minutes, but lessons last longer – up to 55 minutes. Sometimes the classes are combined into blocks of up to 90 minutes! There is simply no time for social gatherings in the lockers.
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What’s in the cupboards? Everything that is not useful in homework – textbooks, school supplies, change of clothes, musical instruments for orchestra rehearsals, and in cold areas – also outerwear.
The only longer break is the lunch break, which can be up to 40 minutes. School lunches are largely funded by the state and used by most children. This practice began after World War II, when the US Army discovered that the poor health of unqualified recruits for the Army was directly related to childhood malnutrition. If the American school menu is related to pizza and hamburgers – it should not be. For several years, more and more attention has been paid to ensuring that children not only receive good nutrition, but also eat properly. At one point, even First Lady Michelle Obama took part in a campaign to promote healthy school meals.
The canteen is naturally associated with popular movie scenes – we know the fans sit with the fans, the nerds with the nerds, and the best table is taken by the football team thugs. When you ask Americans about it, they shrug their shoulders and say that the drive for popularity is as strong among American teens as it is among other nations, and that school groups are more than the invention of a Hollywood screenwriter.
However, there is one group that all students know – they are school athletes. Compared to the slightly overlooked Polish physical education classes, sports in American schools are sacred. This is partly due to the general development of education in the United States – a student is expected to develop in many areas, both mentally and physically. There is also a second, more real, reason why physical activity is put on a pedestal in American schools. Thanks to good results in sports, a high school student can get a scholarship that will allow him to study at the university. The high prices of higher education in the USA make the only opportunity for higher education for many people. A good athlete is the pride of the school, so he can count on certain perks, such as turning a blind eye to academic shortcomings or long deadlines for submitting homework.
Sports in school is not only the activity of PE and his team – everyone is interested in it, and games between schools evoke great emotions. Secondary schools do their best to ensure that matches have an appropriate environment. Therefore, not only the athletes themselves participate in the competition, but also the cheerleading teams and brass school teams performing during the first half of the match. Recently, there has been criticism that American schools spend too much on sports and that this money should be spent on purely academic purposes. If these assumptions are reflected in reality, they will dramatically change the reality of school across the United States.
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The American school system itself can be a nuisance – it is far from being a simple duo in elementary and secondary schools. When we talk about education in the United States, we look at it from the perspective of what we know from our own backyard – one department, one department of education and one unified curriculum. In the meantime, we are talking about a system that educates more than 60 million children in 50 states, which is only 10 million less than that in the entire European Union!
It is difficult to standardize such a large educational machine, so it happens that there are local variables of education systems. As a rule, in a simplified way, school begins at the age of six as a preschool child, and then – every year – the next grade is counted, up to the eighth. After primary school you go – depending on the alternative – to middle school (then high school) or middle school (then upper secondary school). At the second stage of education, the nomenclature changes. A “fresh” high school student is the so-called “student”, in the second grade she becomes a “student”, in the third – “beginner” and in the fourth – “advanced”. Education ends with the equivalent of our high school diploma – as long as you get to this point: in some states, education is only compulsory until age 16.
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What Polish students can envy from their colleagues abroad is a certain freedom in shaping the curriculum. At some stages, students can choose which subjects they will study – this is somewhat similar to our specific high schools.
What Americans can envy is free access to schools. There is strict zoning in the United States, and sending a child to a school designated for a region other than where he lives is very complicated and almost impossible. There were even court rulings that sentenced parents to prison terms, who went so far as to forge documents just so their children could go to a better school than the district school.
The schools seen in candy production in Hollywood seem to be known from the inside out, although their image often does not match reality. One thing that does not change – the noise in the corridors, I love school and the smell of sneakers on the linoleum is the same at every latitude.
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