I have wondered a long time should I write about this subject or not. Italian schools do not position very high in PISA ranking. How many times I hear that I should have stayed in Finland and in that way guarantee an excellent education to my children. However, I am a bad mother and chose with my husband to educate our children here in Italy.
My both children went to Montessori elementary school. I like the Montessori method and I think that it is one of the most brilliant Italian inventions. In Italy, unfortunately most of Montessori schools are private and therefore out of reach for most of the families. Nevertheless, as a method, it really teaches children to work in an autonomous way and it respects the rhythm of every single child. Ok, it is not always so and the role of the teacher is crucial. I have encountered some fantastic Montessori teachers and some quite poor. Anyway, after Montessori elementary school we put our children to a normal, public middle school.
Here in Italy, students study a lot of history and art history – these subjects are very important and no wonder if we think the long history of this country and the richness of the art in this country. It is enough to walk along the streets at Rome and suddenly you walk in the middle of the history and art history books. The students study literature and anthology at school. One for me a strange subject is technology. They learn to draw technical drawings, but not only. This subject includes also how to use computer, they learn how to protect environment. My eldest goes to artistic high school and there they have many artistic subjects. The younger one will start scientific high school next autumn.
I have to admit that in many respects I find Italian schools good. Students get a good all-round education. I admit that foreign languages are THE PROBLEM at schools. Teachers are not competent and the method they use is very old-fashioned. On the other hand, in many studies Italians are bad in mathematics. From my experience, the math teaching is good and the teachers are competent. However, we have to remember that in Italy there are huge differences between the schools and especially between the South and North Italy. Also in Pisa studies, the schools from Northern Italy succeeded over the OECD mean, but in South Italy, the level was much lower. This problem should be resolved. All the kids should get the equal education from Bolzano to Lampedusa.
What I cannot understand here is that students go to school also on Saturdays. So far, I have managed to find schools that work from Monday to Friday, but next year the younger one will go also on Saturday to school. This is so stupid, because they have only 27 hours a week. Then summer holidays last 3 months and students get always summer home works to do. I do not find it so awful, but of course, the amount should not be exaggerated. Unfortunately, often teachers give a huge amount of exercises to do during the summer vacations.
I would say that I do not regret that my children go to school here in Italy. Already a long time ago, I learned that there is no paradise on earth. The Italian school has its pros and cons, but so does the Finnish school. For example in the Finnish schools, there are much more disciplinary problems.