Sunday, 12 June 2011

School Choice - Help wanted!

Friday was Lily's last day of 1st Grade...well until she starts 1st grade again in August. Different country. Different system. Different language of instruction.

Before we came to Hungary we had wondered whither she would go to 1st or 2nd grade after a year here but (I think) we are (fairly) certain that she will go to first grade. Yes, Lily can read confidently, can interact well, is creative; she has no problem in school - so you may be wondering why she is repeating. Well, most first graders in Finland can read when they start school (and those who don’t learn pretty quickly), are interactive and creative. Children, when allowed to be children, can learn these skills without force or institutionalisation. Lily, after a year in school, is on a par with her non-schooled Finnish peers.

The school-starting-age is, in my opinion, the first area (of many areas) where the Finnish education system gets it right.

The decision we have to make however is – Which school should she go to?

Should we continue our relationship with Waldorf-Steiner education and have her go to Oulu Steiner School OR should we go with Norssi, the university practice school (and more than likely our local/neighbourhood school?

Cast your vote:

I am only joking with the poll but actually I (we) would appreciate thoughts on this from people since many of you have experience of being a student, a practicing teacher or a teacher at one or both of these school, while Gábor and I have fairly limited experience of them. We really should have made this decision a few months ago but have been having such difficulty making a choice. In the very same moment I can think that both are the best choice – The problem is, both are good choices it becomes difficult to say which is the best.

What makes it worse is that almost everything I can think of can be both a plus and a minus and Gábor and I really over analyse things. For example:

Without even considering Pedagogical Philosophies, let’s take something as simple as location. The Steiner school is much further from where we will be living (well about 4km) compared to Norssi, which is about 500m plus it is straight across the road from the Education department  of the university where I will spend my days.
Blue = schools, Red = home, Green = uni

Going to Norssi would mean safe and easy trips to and from school, and she would be living close by to her school friends. Steiner would be much longer journeys and are we as parents brave enough to let her go it alone? It would also mean here friends would  be scattered around the city, creating 2 communities; the school community and the home/neighbourhood community. But then Norssi would have 2 communities too. The (all powerful) teacher is normally from outside the local community and  I don’t think parents become part of the school community in Norssi to the same extent as in Steiner. Perhaps even the trip to school is a good thing; it gives Lily the chance to be responsible which would be denied from her if she were to remain in the security of Syynimaa. It wouldn’t exactly be a dangerous trip, it is cycle path the whole way with only one road (with traffic lights) to cross plus a little bit of exercise is an excellent way to prepare your mind and body for learning. But ...what about those mornings in February when it is -30 degrees, perhaps it is a bit cruel for her to have to cycle in that, maybe closer is better...

You see this is how back and forward we go with “location” so imagine what we are like when it comes to pedagogy.

Any comment/suggestions/recommendations are welcome (just try not to confuse me even more).


anni said...

Oooh,difficult issues you have to solve.. have you been in contact with the both schools and discussed about Lily's schooling?

May I ask, how is her finnish?

Mmm..anyway.. The location of the school is 1 thing and YES it's very good to think about these looooong and cold winters, but I would not change the pedagogical way of studying. Allready the change of the country/ language is big enaugh..? Is it?

Anyway would be interesting to read, how did you solved it? All the best!!

Will we meet you all, when you will be on the way to From Hungary to Oulu? We are leaving to DK on 30th of june. It would have been nice!!

anni said...

..(sorry for my finglish!).. :)

Julien said...

Personally I think the Steiner system is great, but it seems only good for younger children in my eyes.
If there had been a choice here, I'd have loved to put Leo & Ellie in a Steiner school for primary education. I wouldn't do it for secondary school, though.

But Anni is right. Make your decision after you've met/talked to the schools. Parental gut instinct should be just fine :-)

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