American high school teacher visited EA6 course

We had the pleasure of welcoming Mr David Tow, an American high school teacher and Fulbright scholar, to join our English lesson on March 3rd. David gave the class a brief introduction to American society as it presents itself today and what kind of differences he has observed during his stay when comparing Finland and the US. David is in Finland to conduct research after he was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching grant last year. Read Venla Karlsson’s report on David’s visit!

Last Thursday, on March 3rd, we had a visitor on our English class (ENA6.2). The visitor, Mr David Tow, is a high school teacher of English all the way from San Francisco, California. He had come to Finland to conduct research about the Finnish school system and society, with our school as one of his destinations.

David 1

David was an accessible and cheerful person. He had a presentation about the school system in the US. He told us about his own high school Terra Linda and American schools in general – a stereotypical high school in the USA has at least over one thousand students (!?!) – and he was really interested in what we had to say. I’m sure everyone started in some way to appreciate our school system a bit more after hearing some differences.

Seriously, we get our education, which by the way is by far one of the best in the whole world, for free! This is something we usually don’t think about because we take it for granted, but as David spoke about the college-preparatory classes they have in the US, I couldn’t feel anything but really grateful. Our parents’ economic status has nothing to do with our possibility to get a fine education.

Secondly, I’ve never even thought about how unpatriotic Finland is. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing, but unlike in other countries we don’t hang our flags or pictures of presidents in our classrooms. Or anywhere else. It feels maybe a bit absurd for us Finns that students in some parts of the US give a pledge of allegiance to a picture of President Obama or to the American flag in the mornings at the start of a school day.

David 2

Furthermore, Finland is an unbelievably safe country. There aren’t many places where seven-year-olds can use public transport on their own or just walk to school by themselves. David also thought this was something extraordinary and simply awesome. He told us how in a morning tram he had admired how an eight-year-old girl just had safely made her way to school by herself, without fear that something could have happened to her. As we in Finland don’t need school buses or to drive to school every day, we’re doing a favor for the environment. What if they had the same possibility in the US? There would be so much less environmental pollution.

In its entity, the visit was very interesting and instructive. In our course schedule our teacher Katariina Vihervalli had titled the lesson “Fun!”, and that’s what it at least was. I myself enjoyed the lesson, and judging by the roars of laughter heard around, I’m sure many others enjoyed it too.

David 3

Read also David’s blog Finland is the World.

Text: Venla Karlsson
Photos: Katariina Vihervalli

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