19 May 2011

assignment compare / contrast: Italian & American first grade (epic fail)

As Young One finishes up her first year in Italian primary school, I've been thinking of similiarities and differences between Italian and American elementary school, constructing a mental Venn diagram. Only, my Venn grows increasing lopsided as most entries go onto the Italian side.

I have not been successful in my brainstorming for my comparison / contrast essay on the subject.

The fact is that Young One is my one, my only. I only know our experiences. I've never had a child in American first grade; my only knowledge is based on my year in first grade -- which was quite a while ago in rural Louisiana in a split classroom. While we are both professional educators, our experience and education are limited mostly to the middle and high school group. Frankly, we just don't know what happens in first grade classrooms with our little people across America. Short of a heavy focus on reading and literacy, we just don't know. We have ideas, sure, but not specifics.

I am also not naive enough to think that what is happening in a first grade classroom in New Orleans is the same as rural Oklahoma. How can it be? So, is Young One's first grade experience the same as a first grader in, say, Palermo? Not likely. It could very well be quite different from the experience of the children who attend the school in the paese.

As we end the year, I plan to post some observations and artifacts of Young One's first year.
It's been a good one.


Here is one similarity, though: lots of end-of-year activities. This is the line-up of activities for her class this May and June:
  1. First & second grade field trip to the zoo
  2. School field day with other local elementary schools
  3. Class production / show (She is memorizing lines in a dialog.)
  4. Class dinner with families and teacher
  5. School day at the local lake
  6. Final report card conferences
This part, at least, seems to be a lot like things occuring in schools across America.


  1. If your experience with schools in Italy is any thing like our experience in Switzerland, then I am sure it is a very positive one. Our children loved their experience with school abroad.

  2. We have been blessed, truly blessed.

  3. I love your perspective on comparing or contrasting the two... I've come to the same conclusion as well. My sister is a teacher in Oklahoma and I keep wanting to ask her about all the things my daughter is doing at school... you know, to find out where we stand. But, in the end, as just about everything about my life here in Italy, there isn't really a point in making it all into a competition... yet. I have in the back of my mind I won't feel the same when high school, maybe even middle school, rolls around. I must say, the groups of Italian high schoolers I see sitting around in parks look a little intimidating! Shouldn't they be in class! But maybe that's just Puglia ;)