03 November 2018

italian education :: 30

It's been a while.

Well, life has marched on for all of us. It's never really perfect, but we have been fairly fortunate.

Young One started high school this fall after delightful years of middle school; all of the tales of hellacious middle school experiences never really panned out for her. (Boy, was middle school an awful time for me.) In fact, she thrived in a way that she never really seemed to thrive in primary school. I suppose she was a bit lucky with the teacher lottery, the one where you hold your breath and cross your fingers before that first day of sixth grade. She looped with her class and teachers for three years and had several stellar middle school teachers, particularly an Italian teacher who connected with her, who found her strengths and inspired growth and acceptance. It was a beautiful thing to witness; I might even say it changed her life.

She exited with a top score in June and started high school or "liceo" in September. As a successful middle school student, she had many choices for high school. While I initially hoped that she would choose a path that would allow her to study languages, with choices like French, Chinese, German, Russian and Latin and Greek, she opted to follow her passion and audition for a school whose focus is music. So, for about a third of the time she attends school each week, she is immersed in the study of music with classes like theory, analysis and composition; chorus; music technology; history of music -- and she also has a small group ensemble class. She continues with the flute and has also picked up a second instrument, the classical guitar -- she has private lessons at the school on both instruments each week. (Richard is over the moon with the classical guitar choice.) Of course, the heart of the curriculum includes the core -- Italian, math, science, social studies -- and also courses like English, religion, physical education and art.

The system is different from the American model in a few ways, the most significant being that students attend five years of high school and attend school on Saturday morning.  Although her schedule varies each day, her school day is done around lunch time. Another contrast is the set plan that students follow -- there are no electives, no choices beyond the choice of "major" at the start.  Also, the class stays together for five years as they progress through the set program -- all day, every day -- the same students together -- for five years. And, in many cases, the teachers loop too.

It's A LOT for a fourteen year old.

She is experiencing a mostly smooth transition, learning to navigate life as a high school student. The social part with peers is always the biggest challenge for her.

I think I'll leave it at that. She probably wouldn't appreciate that I share much more. It's a good start. My fingers are crossed that it continues. As someone who works with teens, I've learned that success is a delicate balance, a balance that can be disrupted easily. We continue on and hope for the best for her.

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