I passed my exams and have begun studying in level B1! Sadly, our teacher is a very rude woman and mocks students who don’t understand her lessons. I am of the opinion that that style of teaching leads to little or no learning.
This semester, I am the only American in my class and field a lot of questions about our culture and education system. I am grateful for my American citizenship, but I don’t think any one nation has a perfect government. Dealing with the particular questions I was posed, I could not always give an honestly positive view of America.
The first topic of discussion our teacher posed to the class concerned the education styles of our native countries. We have students from Bulgaria, China, Japan, Korea, and Greece who all gave very similar answers. Then I was asked to talk about the American education system and I explained that I had been homeschooled. All the students and our teacher were slightly horrified at this news. Our teacher explained that in Italy (as in many other countries) homeschooling will result in the children being removed from the parents’ home and placed in an institution. The Italian perspective is that homeschooling is another form of child abuse; that in some way, the child is not receiving the full developmental care he or she deserves.
I believe I benefitted from my education. Though I support parents’ right to make some choices concerning their children’s education, I do not support homeschooling in the state of Kansas. Homeschooling in the state of Kansas is completely unauthorized. As standardized testing is not required of homeschoolers, there is no guarantee that all homechooled students in the state of Kansas are even able to read or do basic math. Other states do require that homeschoolers are kept up to speed with their public and private school contemporaries, and in that case, I cannot find a reason to outlaw homeschooling.
The second question posed to the class resulted in a conclusion that was a little unfair. Comparing the history of Italy to the history of America is impossible. We were a penal colony and harbor for those suffering religious persecution. Italy was birthplace of the Roman empire. You can’t get two nations with more different origins.
In the northern part of Italy, there are two different regions characteristically different from the rest of Italy. In Valle d’Aosta the two official languages are French and Italian. In South Tyrol the two most prominent languages are German and Italian. This is a result of borders being redrawn many centuries ago and the inclusion of people from other nations into Italy. In this case it was people who would have considered themselves French and Austrian. To maintain their heritage, both languages are taught in school alongside Italian.
My teacher eventually got around to asking me if the native american languages are treated in the same way. Pointing out the complex differences between our nations in Italian is well beyond my grasp at this point. All I could answer was “No”. She asked if there is peaceful integration between the native americans and us immigrants. I responded that in general, no.
Though I do think her comparisons were unusual, I could not help but be reminded of the persecution and alienation there still is towards native peoples. I have begun asking myself why native tongues are dying out and so little is being done to preserve them.
I think this is one of the greatest advantages to studying abroad. I am being forced to develop cogent thoughts concerning education and race in the state of Kansas. People in unfamiliar situations must begin to think critically about where they came from and where they are going. Studying abroad does this and creates people better able to serve their communities.