Education in Italy vs. the US

It’s been a few weeks since I have shared my curricular knowledge with those of you in the education world. While thrilled to be able to travel, I had some trouble being away from my routine and unable to share curricular antidotes with all of you. My travels, took me on a 10-day trip to Italy! Being in another country, I began to think about their education system and how we are so vastly different.

In Italy, they go to school Monday through Saturday from 8:30 – 1:10. Whereas, in the United States, we go to school any where from 7:45 – 3:00/3:30, Monday through Friday. Schedules are different, classes are different. In Italy, teachers are more strict and there is no conversing with students outside of the classroom. In Italy, students “study” for rote memorization versus complete homework assignments. Several questions remain; What is the purpose of the difference in days and times? Are students learning the material or are they just memorizing the information in order to move onward?

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What I discovered, is…no ONE curriculum is right or wrong. No ONE curriculum is interpreted the same. No ONE curriculum is written with the same intent. No ONE curricular structure is the same. So then, what should our overall goal of curriculum be? Should it be to provide the same content, learning objectives, and learning targets across districts and/or states? Should we take into account the community and the environment our students live in?

“Curriculum” denotes a means rather than an end, and what it means to become educated. Curriculum denotes a movement from a starting point to a destination. This is still something all countries in the world have in common. The path is never straight and narrow and as an educator, you will have many choices to make as you negotiate the creation of your curriculum. Overall, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone because no ONE curriculum is the same!

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