Organizational Communication & Spanish Major
Fall 2016 Semester in Burgos, Spain
The cool autumn breeze reassures me that the school year is in full swing. In Spain, they start school in mid-September. During that time, I watched my host parents frantically run around town to buy their children’s school supplies. Not only did this include pencils and notebooks, but textbooks themselves. Usually in the US we don’t have to spend hundreds on books until college. In Spain, you have to in first grade.
Because Spanish children have to have their own books, they are stuck dragging around rolling backpacks. They are also required to wear uniforms, adding on to the expenses.
In Spanish schools they are very particular with colorcoding: red for English, green for science, yellow for math, and blue for language arts. The colors are assigned to these subjects for a reason – red represents absorbing a lot of information, and blue is more calm and steady.
I have been an English instructor for two weeks now in two public schools and I have noticed one main difference; instead of the students switching classes, the teacher hops from room to room. Each level stays in their classroom for the entire day. At my school, the ages are from two to sixteen. There is the infantile level, with children from two to five years old. Primary school is from first to sixth grade, and compulsory secondary education is four more years. After the fourth level of compulsory secondary education, when the students are sixteen, they finish their last two years at a higher secondary school.
College in Spain is about the same price as a community college in the US. Many students stay local and live with their parents during college; going away and living in the dorms isn’t as much as a thing here. Typically, Spaniards live with their parents until marriage, a tradition that our independent culture isn’t too familiar with.
Students begin school around 8:30 and end around 2:00. They have a recess, but no lunch. This is because after school ends, they go home to eat the big meal. I don’t know how they can concentrate on empty stomachs, but they are used to it. Some schools have their students return for class in the afternoon as well.
Finally, children in Spain typically don’t have their school friends over at their homes. This may be due to limited space in apartments, but I think it is because children are geared to spend more time with their families here.
I am glad I have the opportunity to work in a foreign school to see the differences from my own country. Spain isn’t as focused on standardized testing, just learning and having fun. I think we can learn from that.