After having been a part of my New Zealand classroom for five weeks now, I can see many distinct ways in which the culture of the country is reflected in the school and the individual classroom. As I have mentioned before, I have definitely noticed how the general attitude of New Zealand is reflected in the school. The country is much more laid back and relaxed, and there are no liability threats hanging over the teacher's heads. For instance, last week I saw one of the boys scratching his back. He looked very uncomfortable and would stop wherever he was and scratch his back for a while. I asked him if I could take a look, and I noticed that it was covered top to bottom in hives. I immediately went over to the teacher and informed her of the situation. She looked at his back and said, "Oh, it looks like some sort of allergic reaction or something. Alright go on!" I was shocked because in the states, the teacher would have been more concerned about it and at least sent him to the nurse. This just reinforced the laid back, go with the flow atmosphere that New Zealand has. Along these lines, I have also noticed that there is not nearly as much of an emphasis on formal assessment. The students have not taken any tests as of yet, and have no homework except to try to read a book at home if they can.
Another way in which I have seen the culture of New Zealand reflected in the school is through the emphasis of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. There have been major conflicts and tensions between the New Zealand Europeans and the Maori over the years, and the government has tried its best to incorporate the Maori into New Zealand society as much as possible. Because of this great emphasis, students are taught Maori in their everyday classroom routines. Once a week a teacher comes in to teach them the Maori language. Every day when my CT calls out the student's names for attendance, she says "Kia ora" which means "hello". There are posters around the room with the Maori translation for things such as foods or animals. Finally, I have seen Maori artwork and projects on display throughout the school. It is through these examples that I can see the culture of New Zealand reflected in the George Street school and in my classroom.