Studying at an International School has its drawbacks. For one thing, there’s no standard curriculum. You get whatever the teacher at the time deems appropriate learning. Being an Australian citizen, naturally I got American History. I had an English teacher for Science, and a Kiwi teacher for English. You can blame her for the poor writing on this blog. I had a mix of Australian, American and Canadian teachers for PE, and a South African for stage productions and cooking. It wasn’t a bad education per sé. It taught me to make use of fancy latin terms like per sé. And it was certainly easier than school back in Australia. At least the final year. One good thing about the US is that Americans get into college off the back of a single test: the SAT, so we did too. The rest of Grade 12 was prom trips, sleepless Nintendo nights and eating lunch at restaurants. Aussie kids beat themselves to death with books and study for their last 2 years of high school in the hope of scraping together a decent enough grade to get into a university. Usually the 3rd choice on their list. 12,000 miles away. On a self-congratulatory note, I got the highest SAT score in my entire class, ‘dux’ as they say, scoring above the girl-nerds who had actually wasted time studying. To be fair, my class only had 9 people and 7 of those didn’t care and just wanted to find someone to marry and have babies.
There’s lots of cultural differences in schools you might not realize. Little things, like differing handwriting styles between the US and Australia, or the spelling of certain words, or even a particular American teacher’s liberal views on the need of undergarments whilst doing PE. Fun & Games. It was a beginner’s mistake; he didn’t realize back then our classes were so small we sat in circles to do sit-ups. It was like being on an episode of David Attenborough’s “Life In The Undergrowth“.
For whatever reason, Americans also start the school year in August and finish in June the following year. I think this has something to do with tea parties and the Liberty Bell, which the pilgrims, embracing freedom, rang to warn any approaching Native Americans that no one was wearing any underwear. I studied American History so I’m pretty sure. Whoever thought of huge summer holidays was a complete Genius because you got a 2-month summer break in which to construct moon rockets or aircraft carriers or, alternatively, run around for 8 hours a day playing with sticks. Sadly, we were poor and never had the raw materials for any of those things, but we could still dream.
International schooling also has some tangible benefits for kids. Aside from the higher sperm count due to track & field time, they have the opportunity to learn another language and discover all kinds of different cultures. I had friends from all over the place and was richer for it. Literally. They had heaps more money than me and were happy to share at the cafeteria. Smaller classes also means better learning, even if your teacher has a strange accent and isn’t really a teacher at all but a civil engineer (sometimes they got desperate) who spent the last 5 years of his life building bridges in Texas or somewhere better than where-ever-you’re-from. I’m also blessed with astounding amounts of trivial knowledge about useless crap that I can entertain my wife with. If she wasn’t just rolling her eyes and calling me a nerd. But hey, at least I found someone to marry.