In Swedish class tonight we spent a fair bit of time discussing the differences between the Australian and Swedish school systems.
In Australia. we tend to start school earlier, are more likely to go to religious schools, are more likely to wear school uniforms, and are more likely to study a narrow range of subjects at the end of high school.
The Swedes, it shouldn’t surprise you, are much more into “student democracy”, less discipline, and a broader range of subject choices.
There are, of course, pros and cons with both systems.
It was interesting, though, as we went around the class to look at how much cultural knowledge existed.
The class is made up of a lot of people with Swedish husbands, wives, partners, and ex-partners. Compared with previous classes, Grant and I are most obviously the oldest in the class. And this time around there’s only two of us with children. One has pre-school aged children, the other has a daughter living in Sweden.
And so when the question of when are the school terms in Sweden and Australia, and when are the holidays came up, there was a definite lack of cultural knowledge.
I was surprised as I know these details quite well. Working with a lot of people with school-aged children, I know exactly when the school holidays are. And yet, the younger class members who are mostly in their late 20s, perhaps, seem to have forgotten this information, even though they were at school far more recently than either Grant or I. They, for example, would have lived through four-term years in Australia, whereas when I was at school, we still had three terms.
I missed class last week due to my lovely dinner, and will miss again next week due to holidays.
But I have an added pressure on myself to improve my Swedish skills, especially now that I have booked my ticket for March, and especially now that I have made some contacts to attend work-related conferences while there. With a definite goal now in mind, I’ll need to work hard over the next few months.
As we sat and chatted about school life I was reminded of my own high school years. And university also I guess.
I’ve been lucky to have been reasonably naturally talented with some things. And so for much of my academic life I cruised through without working too much.
Despite my mostly “A” and “B” academic record, at one point in my Year 11, I was given the Grade “D” meaning “more could be expected”, despite having finished in the Top 2 or 3 of my class in English. My teacher was saying, he later told me, “you’re very talented, if you worked harder you could achieve so much more” (or words to that effect).
In some ways it’s been a little the same with my Swedish studies. I think I have a good ear, and I think my pronunciation and translation skills are quite good. I’ve been a bit lazy, though, when it comes to grammar and some of the “hard work” you need to do to take that one step further.
So my philosophy for the next few months will be to try to work harder on the “boring bits”. Hopefully by the time I get to Sweden in March, I’lll no longer have to say, “ursakta mig, jag talar svensk som en barn” (excuse me, i speak swedish like a child).
In essence my philosophy for the next few months is… “needs to try harder”.
P.S. Sue, Damien – you don’t need to comment :)