Most Americans are familiar with the elementary school, middle school and high school designations and that school takes place Monday through Friday from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. Most attended high schools with extracurricular activities, including sports and upon graduation may have moved on to a two-year or four-year college. That's not, however, how school works around the world. Here's a look at some general differences between schools in the United States and schools overseas.
Academic rigor and teacher discipline. The Harvard Blog of Education details the account of an American mother, relocated to France for employment purposes, who sends her 17-year old daughter to a French private school where ridicule and humiliation from teachers was commonplace. In Germany, teachers are held in high regard, unlike their American counterparts. They also get paid more. Standardized testing, although taking hold in the United States, receives much more emphasis in European and some Asian countries. In many foreign countries, placement tests are taken early in one's academic career to help students forge a career and education path.
Sports and clubs. Many American students look forward to high school so they can play sports and participate in extracurricular activities. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, more than 7.6 million Americans played high school sports during the 2010-2011 school year. The United States is unusual in this respect. Teens wanting to participate in sports in Europe and other parts of the world play for non-school affiliated clubs.
School days and school years. Americans go to school from the end of August until the beginning of June, with slight variations depending on the region and the school district. Lunch lasts about a half-hour. The French school day typically is 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for primary ages and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for upper grades. Students do get a full or half-day off on Wednesday. In Japan, the school year begins in April and ends in March, with long breaks between trimesters—about every four months. In Italy, students attend high school on Saturday, and high school lasts five years.
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