In the American movie industry, the stereotypes of a “regular teenage experience” are clear: going to a large high school, talking with your friends at lunch, playing sports, participating in clubs, etc. But is that accurate for other countries?
In Banfi, Italy, the primary and secondary school stages before going to high school are the same as the American education system: five years of elementary school and three years of middle school. However, reaching the high school stage gets a little more complicated. “High school can last for three, four, or five years depending on the [career] path you decide to take,” explained a student at Banfi, a high school in Italy. “There are certain high schools that are supposed to [lead up to a] university and [there are] others that prepare you [right away] for a practical profession.” In the United States (U.S.), high school lasts four years, while you decide what you want to have a career in before or even during university years.
Failed a reading state exam in America? Okay “big deal,” the student can take it again. In Italy, there are no second chances. One test can determine your career path for the future. “…‘Maturita,’ which means ‘maturity’ [in Italian], is conceived as the greatest evidence of our educational journey…,” said a student at Banfi. “The first written test is identical for each and every school in the country, while the second one varies according to the [career] path you’ve chosen…” However, in the U.S., the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Test (ACT) determine how good your knowledge is for a broad number of subjects, which is similar to the first test of the Maturita.
Grand ole’ America practically runs on athletics, so what’s the best way to start shaping athletes?: starting them out young. “[My school offers] football, soccer, lacrosse, track, [and many more sports to students],” explained Abigail Leach, a student at St. Petersburg High School (SPHS). In Italy, their COVID-19 regulations have prohibited the use of athletics in school, regarding their Physical Education (P.E.) class. “[If we had the opportunity to play sports at school], it would be much more comfortable and more convenient,” said another student at Banfi.
In the U.S., a period of time is mandated for students to have lunch, whether you bring your own food or the school provides some for you. “Although the [school] lunch can be questionable [at times], because of the pandemic lunch is free for all students,” disclosed Siddarth Singh, a senior at Key West High School (KWHS). And that is what Italy lacks for its students. The most they’ll get for a meal during the day is hot drinks and snacks from a vending machine in the hallway. “Lunch is not distributed because there are no lessons in the afternoon, only in the morning,” stated another student at Banfi.
The definition of “fun” in Italy is more mature than the American definition. Cogestione, a tradition at Banfi, is a two-day event where standard teaching stops and goes into other activities not based on the students’ career paths that are organized by students and teachers. “It is our way of stating that we are mature enough to handle our own experiences, but without fighting against those who made us that mature,” explained a student at Banfi. However in America, “fun” is determined by non-educational-related activities such as pep rallies, spirit weeks, and high school dances, such as Winter Formal and Homecoming.
The comparisons are endless between all countries’ education systems, but each country has one thing in common: striving for a better education for each student.