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Back to School Around the World

A Look at the Back to School Practices Around the World

By mid September most of us are well settled back into the new school year, but returning to school or beginning a new one requires quite a bit of preparation each year.

No matter where you live, back to school involves an interesting set of traditions and practices. Buying back to school supplies in Brazil causes huge inflation. Those who wait to the last minute might see school supply prices rise 500% ! In Holland, many parents drive their children to school on bakfietsen, which are bikes with large boxes over the front wheel to tote kids. Children in Japan have the longest school year in the world at 250 days. Students carry supplies in hard backpacks called randoseru. Inside one will find pencil cases, origami paper and slippers to wear inside the school building. On the first day, many students bring a lunch of rice with seaweed sauce and quail eggs called fudebako, which is supposed to bring good luck. In Germany youngsters carry Schultuete, which are large paper cones filled with school supplies, small presents and sweets. Some of these cones are almost as big as the child. Israeli children bring edible letters coate

d with honey, while the older students release colorful balloons from the school windows to welcome them. The first day of school in Russia is called “Day of Knowledge.” Each child gives a bouquet of flowers to his teacher and receives a balloon in return. Russian students get to know each other well, as they remain in the same class from first to tenth grade. Indian students call their first day, Praveshanotsavam. It involves a gift exchange. Umbrellas are popular gifts, which are most appropriate for the upcoming monsoon season. North Korean students from age five stay together for eleven years wearing government regulation uniforms and studying “Communist Morality.” Their government carefully monitors the program of study for negative influences. Children in Hong Kong don’t need to worry about being late because the government puts on more public transportation services at an earlier time to handle the traffic as a new school year begins. French students consider themselves lucky to have the shortest academic year with two hour lunches, Wednesdays off, and a half day on Saturday.

 

Perhaps even more interesting are some back to school college traditions. At Elon College, an acorn is presented to freshmen. Upon graduation each student receives a small oak tree symbolizing academic growth. At Vassar College, freshmen dorms are invited to compose a song for graduating seniors. While the seniors listen, they cover the composers in condiments like ketchup or chocolate syrup. Georgetown students hold a competition on a mud and food covered quad to determine a king and queen. Reed College students host a noise parade. They yell, play instruments, bang pots and pans, and carry torches while parading though the campus. Female students at Smith College hold a costume competition wearing crazy clothes or nothing at all. Clemson students schedule a pep rally before the first football game which involves creating their own floats, a miniature Rose Bowl parade. Ohio State students turn their fun into a good cause. The Buckeython is a 5K race with a glow in the dark theme to raise money for kids who have cancer.

It does not matter where or whether you attend school, education is a life long experience so reward yourself by learning about something new and get back “into the swing of things.”

Barbara Ann Mojica, Author of the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to….nonfiction book series
Website: http://www.LittleMissHISTORY.com
EMAIL: barbara@littlemisshistory.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bamauthor
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How Education has Changed Over the Centuries

A Brief Back-to-School Glance at the History of Education

PlatoThe air in the morning is becoming crisp and cool. Time for back to school, which made me think about how education has changed over the centuries.

Plato, who lived from 428-347 B.C., had been a student of Socrates, a philosopher who wandered Athens. Plato changed his mind about becoming a politician after rulers poisoned his teacher. Disillusioned, Plato traveled for more than a decade after his mentor’s death, studying astronomy, geology, geometry, and religion in Egypt and Italy. His best known work, The Republic, written in question and answer format touched on wisdom, justice and courage, specifically how an individual relates to himself and to society as a whole. Plato thought society ought to be structured into three groups: governing class, warriors and workers. An ideal government would have philosophers as rulers.Justinian

Plato created his Academy on a site connected with a mythological hero, Akademos, around 387 B.C. Situated near the walls of Athens, the area contained a sacred grove of olive trees dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Plato’s Academy became the first university in Europe. It offered courses of study in mathematics, biology, political theory and philosophy. Above all it advocated skeptical thinking. Plato believed that absolute truth did not exist. Humans perceive everything through their own subjective senses; the most one could hope for is a high degree of probability. Nevertheless, educated citizens could exert major influences on government, logic and philosophy. Plato remained at the Academy with his students for the rest of his life and his philosophy continued to flourish for almost one thousand years after his death.

Things deteriorated when the Emperor Justinian came into power. (481-565 A.D.) Justinian is probably most famous for his rewriting of Roman law, the basis of contemporary civil law. But he was committed to restoring the Byzantine Empire and used force when he felt it necessary. For example, he demanded his subjects convert to his form of Catholicism or face torture and death. Justinian ordered that Plato’s Academy be shut down and its property seized, citing it as a pagan institution. In addition, the emperor insisted on erasing all forms of Hellenism and Greek culture. This meant the elimination of democratic constitutional reforms, dramatic tragedies, the philosophy of human dignity, and the tradition of the Olympic Games. Justinian attacked Western institutions and the concept of humanism, which was at its heart.

Following the long dark period and chaos of the Middle Ages, Western Europe again witnessed rebirth in the Renaissance Period during which education flourished and modern universities came into existence. Some thoughts from history as we head back to school this month.

Barba Ann Mojica

Little Miss History