USA: Global Village Membership

USA: Global Village Membership

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If you’re a parent, or a child, or anyone, you may have heard the phrase. “It takes a village” (to raise a child). After reading a post written by a fellow contributor, KC, I remained in thought about this village that’s needed to raise our children.

KC is currently a stay-home-mum to a precious toddler, so you know she has one of the most rewarding and challenging positions in the universe; one weighted with a lot of responsibility, as well. Thankfully she takes the time to write about some of what’s going on in her world as a mum, a woman, and as a person, because out of her writing I found something I want to discuss, too. Check her out at http://www.mummyintransit.com.  She is a really good writer, and she’s funny too.

In reading KC’s post I thought about my own experience as a child in Italy, a teenager in Tanzania, and an adult and parent in the United States. What was my village like? Who did my mum include in forming my personality and my worldview?

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ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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USA: A Dinosaur

USA: A Dinosaur

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When I think of my own elementary school experience, I remember recess games and lunch time chats. I remember “round robin” reading and math fact drills. I remember class time and spelling tests, but I also remember having time to play with my friends, and that was one of the highlights of going to school. We were able to have two times a day where we had unstructured recess time to just go outside and have time to play with our friends. (more…)

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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GREECE: From Pythagoras To Purgatory – Education in Modern Greece

GREECE: From Pythagoras To Purgatory – Education in Modern Greece

8677750589_79cb31e6a1_zWho hasn’t heard of the name Pythagoras before? Or, for that matter Archimedes, Aristotle, Plato or Hypatia? Even if you don’t know exactly what these people believed or taught, those ancient names probably ‘ring a bell.’ For those of you fortunate enough to have had a good level of education you will probably be  familiar with the Pythagorean Theorem. Remember those maths lessons back then when we were teens? Most of you will recognise the above names as originating from Ancient Greece. Pythagoras, for instance, is best known as a mathematician who lived in the 500’s BC and also pursued knowledge in the fields of music and philosophy.

Well, I’m really proud to live in a country which has such a  history of academic and cultural excellence. In addition to the world of academia, remember that the first Olympic Games took place in Olympia in 776 BC! Can you imagine that?  Most people think of the Games as being a much more recent creation. However, the concept of combining physical excellence and political and social benefits had its inception in Greece many centuries prior to the modern day games that we are currently familiar with.

So, with such an impressive and honourable history in sport, teaching and education, how does Greece’s glorious past influence its present generation of scholars?

Tragically, the politicians and educators who are responsible for the education system in modern Greece seem to have forgotten ancient past glories.

Pupils who want to continue to tertiary education really have to suffer years of hell in order to get the grades they need for university or colleges. The state education system has been a disappointment to teachers, parents and pupils for decades, REGARDLESS of which political party has been in power. Teachers are ridiculously underpaid considering the years of hard work and expense they’ve invested in getting their degree. Parents are forced to pay for private tuition and students miss out on many areas of their childhood due to running nonstop  from day school to evening tuition.

There was a lot of publicity this summer when a bright 16 year old girl wrote a letter to parliament complaining that she was a human being and not a robot! She also expressed her fury that the new system implemented this year was EVEN WORSE than the previous one. Now students grades are counted in the last THREE years before finishing secondary school. That means if you mess up in one or two lessons when you’re 15/16, those grades will haunt you through school till you’re 17/18 and lower your whole grade average. You don’t have the option to rewrite the lesson either! Too much pressure for too many children. This both saddens and amazes me! Those who are responsible for the national curriculum are highly educated and experienced in their fields. So why has there been such a public outcry this year at the new “improved” system?

Well, quite frankly, it’s dreadful!

Virtually all Greek children who want to get good grades follow a similar programme. They go to their state run schools till around 2o’clock. As state secondary schools don’t have dining halls or refectories, the children then go home to eat lunch or take their own packed lunch to school. In the afternoon the lessons continue as most tuition in the day school isn’t adequate to prepare students for national exams. This means parents are obliged to hire private tutors, if the family budget can afford them, or children have to go back to “Frontisteria” or private tutoring schools. The second option is usually a little cheaper than the first. I know many families who have 2 children and the monthly tuition fees are at least ONE of the parents salaries. Imagine other families I know who have 3 or 4 children!!! It’s pretty common for parents to get bank loans or sell property for their offsprings education BEFORE they go to uni/college. The Greek State has prided itself for decades on its free education system. In practical and realistic terms, I don’t know any child who has entered university without doing private lessons, going to a private day school or following  courses at the evening “Frontisteria.”

So the idea of a free Greek education system is a farce in reality. The tragic thing is that with a crushed economy, in some demographics we have an unemployment rate of 40-50%. Many families now have only one breadwinner and its not uncommon to have families with both parents out of work.

So how can these families afford education? Basically, they can’t. They have to rely on the goodwill of state school teachers to give extra homework or work through breaks to cover the material which comes up in state exams.

Their kids also have to make super human efforts on their own if they want any kind of realistic job prospects.

I’m a private tutor myself and some years ago I worked in the UK doing language summer schools. I had teens from all over the world but I remember that some of my shiniest stars were from Greece and Japan. The Greek kids were very knowledgeable in many areas and I assumed the Greek education curriculum must rock! That was just before I came to live here when I realised that those students usually came from middle class homes and could afford all the extra tuition not included in the state system.

So what’s happening internationally about our right to free education and knowledge until at least the age of 17/18?  I’m British so I take it for granted that compulsory education should be till 16 and all levels of education should be free until the end of secondary school. Acquaintances from around the world have told me similar stories about education in their countries. The general consensus is that state curriculums are getting worse and trying to guarantee your child’s entry to tertiary education means forking out an awful lot of money! Friends in the USA, UK and Germany have put their children into private day schools or boarding schools. Colleagues who live in Denmark praise their system but this is only one that I know of personally which gets a glowing report!

I hope that your system isn’t like our Greek system.

As my ambitious 14 year old son says:”Going to school here is like being sent to PURGATORY!”

I’d be really interested to know about the education system in your part of the world. Do you have to pay fees or is everything provided by the government?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Ann Marie Wraight of Greece. Photo credit: Tom Brown. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Ann Marie Wraight

Having lived in 4 different countries, Ann Marie finds it difficult to give a short answer about where she's from. She regards herself: Brit by birth, Aussie by nature, with a sprinkling of Greek and German based on her insatiable appetite for tasty food and chilled beer! This World Mom has been married to her Greek soulmate for 16 years and they are the proud but constantly challenged parents of two overactive teenage boys. (She secretly wonders sometimes if she was given the wrong babies when she left the maternity clinic.) She can't explain the fascination and ability that her 13 and 14 year-olds show in math and physics or that both boys are ranked 1st and 2nd nationally in judo. Ann Marie can only conclude that those years of breastfeeding, eating home cooked meals and home tutoring really DO make a difference in academic and physical performance! The family is keeping its fingers crossed that---with the awful economic crash in Greece---continued excellence in math and/or judo will lead to university scholarships... In addition to writing, enjoying a good glass of wine and movies, Ann Marie also works as a teacher and tends their small, free-range farm in the Greek countryside.

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INDIA: Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher…and to ME!

INDIA: Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher…and to ME!

Dressed up as a 'rockstar' in one of the preliminary rounds of the Fancy Dress Competition.

Purnima’s son dressed up as a ‘Rockstar’ for the Fancy Dress Competition.

Here in India there are a lot of competitions conducted for children in a healthy way.  Our son recently took part in a competition in early November.  You see, it is Children’s Day on the 14th of November and the kids who win are awarded on that day.

It was a fancy dress competition.  He was all dressed up.  He had reached the final round after clearing two intermediate rounds. He dressed up as a ‘Rockstar’ for the first round and then as ‘The Earth’ for the second round. For the finals, the topic was a bit tricky. We had to dress up depicting any opposite. So I was thinking of good and evil and hot and cold and such things. But he came with Indoor and Outdoor games. Maybe they are not really opposites, so I got a confirmation from the teacher-in-charge and then dressed him up to depict Indoor and Outdoor games.

And just when we were waiting for his chance to get on stage and perform, there was a mother, whose child’s only competition was my son.  She came up to us, and tried to discourage my son and demotivate him.  I tried to shield him away from her and her stinging words.  She joked about it so that I wouldn’t take offense and complain…but tried to do the damage nevertheless.

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Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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Friday Question: What recent journey have you helped your child(ren) take?

This week’s Friday Question comes from World Moms Blog writer, The Alchemist.  She asked our writers,

“What recent journey have you helped your child(ren) take?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Maggie Ellison of South Carolina, USA writes:
“I taught my son to read before he went into kindergarten because he wanted to know how to do it.  I just followed his lead and guided him to the next level.  When he started kindergarten last year, he was on a 1st grade and 3 month level.  They had a 100 book challenge at school, so every school night we read at least 2 books.  By the end of the year, he wanted to reach his goal of 300 books.  He read over the 300 mark and was so proud of himself.  We celebrated with him!! What a huge accomplishment!!” (more…)

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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