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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Independence/Responsibility amongst Viennese Students

     After observing and teaching for many weeks in a Viennese elementary school, I have noticed that students are granted more responsibility in the classroom as well as outside of school. My students are only in first grade, but yet they are expected to complete all homework assignments and bring in library books without any reminders. If students forget things, like sneakers for gym class or money for a field trip, teachers normally won't let them participate. If students don't complete their homework, they have to tell their parents that they didn't do it and finish it for the next day. In American schools, I frequently hear teachers reiterating due dates and assigned tasks. Students I have worked with have forgotten homework on multiple occasions and are given stern reminders, but they normally are not excluded from the day's activities. 
   My teacher will also leave the students alone for some time in the classroom to complete certain tasks. Legally I don't think this is allowed in most U.S. schools, however, in Vienna the children are expected to continue working and remain in their seats. Of course there are instances where students get up and start chit chatting with peers and not engaging in the assigned worksheet, exercise, etc.  However, generally, I get the impression that Viennese children are accustomed to working on their own without their teacher's constant guidance and support. They understand that it is their responsibility to complete their work and that there will be consequence if they do not. 
     Another example I notice daily is that very young children will ride the public transport system on their own. This is not something I see frequently in the United States. It seems like children are just naturally instilled with more independence and responsibility than in the States. It may also have something to do with Austria's very low crime rate. Parents aren't scared of sending their children on the subway because they know it is safe. After school when students are going home, the teacher will freely let them out of the classroom. There isn't a teacher in charge of pick up who makes sure that each child gets picked up by the right parent or gets in the right car. Initially this was strange to me because in the States teachers must be very aware of where each of their students are going after school. However, in Vienna it's in the hands of the kids to know where they are going and where they are supposed to be.

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