!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: As Others See Us

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

As Others See Us

A friend of mine who's a high school teacher in the Finnish city of Kuusankoski recently sent me an account Heidi, a local student, had written called "The Best Year of My Life." Heidi was spending the year (during which she turned 18) with a series of host families in Imlay City MI, where she attended the public high school as an exchange student.

The good news is that Heidi had been dying to come to the US and was very happy with how the year worked out for her. For example, she reports:
One of the first things that I noticed at school was how many hot guys there were in our school. That is probably one of the reasons why I enjoyed going to school every day at 7:30. The other thing that took my by surprise was how polite and nice the students were to me! Everyone wanted to talk to me and show me where to go, and that was just so nice of them!
The not-so-great news is how the education provided at the school compared to what Heidi was used to back home in Kuusankoski.
School is ... a lot easier here [than in Finland]. At first it might seem really hard, but once you catch on the language and the everyday school life (which takes about three months), you find yourself being better than the average.
The Americans don't really put much effort in teaching mathematics and what not, as we do over there in Finland. Often I notice students complaining about the amount of homework they get — which is pretty much nothing compared [to] the amount what they give us in Finland! One time in the sociology class, our teacher Mrs. Gulick gave us a book that had about 100 pages. She didn't say anything how she wanted us to read it etc. so I asked her when the book was due. She stared at me and I just thought that she didn't hear me well so I asked her again "Is this book due like in two or three weeks, or how do you want us to do this ...?" She said that we would be given about two months to read the book and we would only have to read a couple of chapters!! I was shocked! At that point THREE THINGS came to my mind — my Finnish class in Finland, my Finnish teacher and the time period we were given in that class to finish a book!
But let's end on an upbeat. Here's another of Heidi's comparative observations:
Not only the way of teaching or giving homework is different here than in Finland, but the students are taught to have something that is called the "school spirits". Basically what it's about is that the school has their own mascot (ours is the Spartan), school colors (ours are royal blue and gold), and the school sells hoodies, t-shirts and varsity jackets. I've bought a lot of school stuff already and so do many other people. These things make the students more proud of their sport teams and school. I think that is something Finnish schools should have too.