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Editor’s note: Teen Pulse staff member Alexandra Hehlen wrote this story after spending a day at a school in Switzerland.
School Here, School There: What is the Difference?
At the Progymatte Oberstufen Schule, or the Progymatte Upper-level School, in Thun, Switzerland, the learning atmosphere is different for teens compared to that of Los Alamos High School. Every morning, the bell rings at the large, old stone schoolhouse at 7:30 a.m.
The teenagers rush to their classrooms, catch up on morning gossip and await the arrival of their first period teacher.
The teacher walks into the room just after the bell rings. As he does so, all the students stand up as a polite way of greeting him, and sit down when he tells them to.
Then, the lesson starts. Homework is checked, tests are taken, or work is done immediately, but after the teacher is done teaching, the lesson becomes a bit more loose.
Teens are free to do their homework, classwork, or read, depending on the teacher. The lessons are interactive: the teacher will talk with the students to get them involved in learning something new.
First period ends after 45 minutes, and a 10-minute break follows, but the students do not go to their next class. Instead, they go back to the same classroom they had in first period, and a new teacher comes in to teach the next subject.
The students have everything stored in their desks — from pencils to textbooks — and so their backbacks are light and no lockers are needed.
The classrooms are simply furnished with tall desks that have flip-up tabletops for school supplies and textbook storage, along with tall stool-like chairs.
Despite the old age of the schoolhouse, every classroom is modern. Whiteboards are not present in the classroom, but instead large square chalkboards are used to write on. About five of them can fold on top of each other like pages of a book.
The chalkboards can move up and down and some of them even have graph-paper-type ruling for doing math.
Above all, the teachers are kind and seem to love what they do. The teenagers are willing to accept someone from a foreign country snooping about in their school all day, which was a great opportunity for me.
Although Los Alamos High School and the Progymatte Oberstufen Schule may be different from each other, there is one similarity that I am sure not to forget: the students are very much alike.
Throughout the day, they were cheerful, energetic, welcoming and sometimes a bit grumpy, but come on, that is just the way teens are.
--Alexandra Hehlen is a sophomore at Los Alamos High School.