Sitting in the classroom my initial reaction was that these children were extremely different from the students in America. And while there are extreme differences in language and maybe even learning styles, the overall atmosphere and behavior of the students were similar.
I felt that after watching and interacting with these kids they are extremely similar to the children in the United States. One student was the class clown while another was the shy studious child in the corner. It mirrored the classroom environment of many classrooms I have seen and been a part of in the United States. As I looked more closely however, I did see a difference in the independence of the students. I observed that in the Italian classrooms the students were much more independent in their studies and took an initiative to finish the work on their own while in the United States students more heavily rely on the teachers. It seemed to me that the students were more likely to work on the task alone and help one another before going to the teacher.
Another difference I noticed in the school was the most obvious one yet the most surprising; the fact that the students spoke very good English. They all could translate things that I was unable to and even that the teacher was unable to at times. It was so surprising to me because these children were no older than 10 years old and were speaking amazing English. This contrasts the United States in that most schools don’t teach language until middle school and even then the language courses are not taken as seriously as they are in Italy. These children are learning a language other than their own at such an early age and they are succeeding much more than the students in American schools.
Overall, kids are kids anywhere; each with their own specific learning habits and personalities. However, there are distinct patterns and generalizations that differ from the United States and Italy in the schooling system. The way that we teach language and the amount of independence we exhibit contrasts one another extremely. Only being there for a few hours I was able to observe these differences and it leaves me wondering what else I would have seen if I had been there for longer.