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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spanish Culture in a Spanish High School

Though the culture of Spain is not outwardly reflected in high school culture here, Spanish cultural installments become have become more obvious over time. The most noticeable reflection is in the school scheduling. In Spain, lunch is the most important meal and is “celebrated” with all members of the family everyday. Attendance is possible for all, even those working, because of the tradition of the Spanish siesta. From 2 pm- 4 pm every weekday, many stores, shops, markets, schools, etc. close down in order for people to return home for lunch and siesta (nap). In this way, classes begin earlier for all age groups and always end at or before 3 pm, allowing students to return home in time for lunch with their families. Also, breakfast is all but ignored in Spain, so most students do not eat before they go to school in the morning. However, there is a designated time for students and teachers to eat lunch. This time is called “recreo” or recess, and students eat a small sandwich or a piece of fruit and relax before their classes continue.
            The class schedules in Spanish high schools also reflect the culture of the country in terms of which classes are offered and required. European students are required to take English for the entirety of their education because of the increasing need for and global usage of the English language. They are also required to take French, which reflects the general culture of Europe in that there is a greater need to learn and be proficient in more than just one’s native language, as a result of the great variety of languages spoken throughout the continent.
            As my placement is a Catholic school created by nuns, the influence of Spanish Catholicism is ever present. There are crosses, bible verses, and quotes from prominent Catholic figures throughout the classrooms and halls of the school. Students are required to study religion and attend mass in the on-campus chapel. Personally, I have observed that there is a very high level of respect embedded in all individuals at my placement. Students respect teachers and other students, teachers respect all students and colleagues, and everyone seems grounded in a similar belief system. In this way, I have not observed many instances of discipline in class because there simply is no real need for it. Additionally, there is a respectful ritual when a teacher enters a room, in which the students rise and both parties greet and thank each other with systematic and required respect.
            At B.V.M. Irlandesas de Bami, Spanish culture is interlaced in the foundation of the school and is reflected in various unique ways. 

1 comment:

  1. I do not know where in Spain you are doing your study abroad but there are many aspects of your blog that surprised me. Even though I am American, I come from a Spaniard family and I have been in Spain many times. Therefore, I feel somewhat like an expert in this subject. In your first paragraph you spoke about the Spanish siesta. I must admit I had never thought about it as a "celebration" but I can understand your viewing as such and its very fitting. It is a very integral part of our social life and its is very rigorously followed. However, it is not true that breakfast is ignored in Spain. The four meals (breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner) are usually always taken. However, I understand why you might have made this error since breakfast is the smallest meal taken. Unlike in the United States or Latin American countries, breakfast is considered a "wake up" meal. It is just there to quickly get us going. Hence, the customary Spanish breakfast is a piece of toast or a couple of cookies with coffee (this is a must, a Spaniard does not know how to function without his good morning coffee. Not eating breakfast is not well seen and is very rare.

    I also noticed the comment you made about their schedules. The way in which European student where required to take English for the entirety of their education and later French. I was also surprised by this aspect of the Spanish education since I was not obligated to study a second language until high school. However, I think it is very positive and should be implemented in the American education system. Since all students have this requirement, they finish school knowing the basics of two languages. In this global age, that is a wonderful advantage. I find it to be pitiful the little importance the American education system gives to learning a second language.

    Moreover, I noticed that you have witnessed the still predominant influence of the Catholic religion in Spain. I have noticed that it is slowly fading but, compared to the United States, it is true that it still has great power here. Now, I do find entertaining your experience with discipline compared to mine. I am doing my pre-practicum in a public-private school. This means that the school used to be private but the city decided to make it public so now entrance into the school is free but the curriculum, courses, and schedules are organized by the headmaster. In this school, there is a very low level of respect for the teachers. The students act almost like they are equals and take a while to get focused. I have observed this in more than one school, not only my own. It could be that, since your school is religious they are seen with more awe by the students and receive more respect. If that is the case, then it would be interesting to study this different reactions of students in different academic surroundings.


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