Yesterday I was at lunch with a Czech friend of mine talking about education. His daughter just started the first grade and this week they had their initial teacher conferences. The teacher informed him and his wife that the daughter had a hard time focusing.
“Of course she can’t focus; they have her there from 8AM to 3PM. I wouldn’t focus at that age either!”
It never occurred to me that there was anything out of place about the duration of the American elementary public school.
I asked him how long school was in the Czech Republic. He said that first graders would be out by 11:30 AM. Wow, what a way to solve the problem of so many kids who are diagnosed with ADHD but may just need to run around and climb a few trees.
Our exchange student last year brought some perspective as well. She explained that when kids in Czech are in the fourth grade, they separate the “academic” ones from the non-academic ones. The academic ones are prepared for the university. The non-academic ones are prepared for a vocation.
So instead of forcing a bunch of people into a mountain of student loan debt that puts them in a career or job that they don’t perform in, we could train them to not go to college, save a ton of money, get back years of earning instead of going to school, and live much more confident and productive lives.
Instead of labelling kids as being bad because they can’t (unnaturally) sit in a room for seven hours with a few breaks in between, we could limit the amount of time young students spend in school.
I absolutely love having friends with different perspectives and life experiences. The American system is not the only good system; it’s not even the best in most things. Without my European friends, I would never see that.