This essay has been made as assignment in English 2010. A so called
Rarely I have hated something more. I write code, software, not
June 16, 2004
What is Education
ďChildren have to be educated, but they have also to be left to
Ē ~~ Abbe Dimnet
I was born in Italy, where I spent the first 40 years of my life,
then I moved to Utah where I am attending some college. So it is
unavoidable that I do some comparisons between the two worlds:
different society structure, different habits, works, religions,
folkways, and education methods.
The Italian education is organized in 4-5 levels, depending on
where you want to arrive: the elementary school; the junior-high,
the high school; then there is the university, after which eventually
there are the specialization schools for Master or Doctorate.
One, not very important difference, is the length: the
elementary school is 5 years and goes since 6 to 10. Statistics say
that about a 15 % of the students leave after the 5th elementary.
The junior-high is in 3 years: since 11 to 13. These two schools are
mandatory, but there was a project of law to extend another 2 years,
to 15 years of age. In my personal experience, what I found weird is
that in junior-high it is mandatory to study Latin. I had no big
troubles, but itís a dead language, for what is useful? I think it
should be a studentís choice.
Statistics say that another about 25 % of the students at this
point leave the school. The high school may be in 4 or 5 years, and
goes since 14 to 17-18. Depending on which kind of graduate college
address you want to take later, there are several types of
high-schools: with a scientific address, in which the stress is put
on Math and Trig; with a classical address in which is teached Greek;
then there are the industrial address and a bunch of technical
addresses: like IT, electronics, electric, fine arts, carpentry,
and so on, still dentistry.
After the high-school another 40% will leave the school. So only
about 20% of the Italians have college education.
Then you are ready, or supposed to be, for the university. Here
there is the so called short degree, corresponding to the American AS,
thatís 2 or 3 years long, depending on the address. After which you
can take another 2-3 years for the BS. On the other side there is the
normal degree, like Electronic Engineering thatís in 4 years, or
Medical School thatís in 5 years, in which you get directly the BS.
Letís talk now on some key differences between the Italian and
the American methods.
What in my humble opinion is the main difference is the teaching
method: while in Italy you have not so many assignments, or none at
all, here in Utah I found myself challenged with loads of work: home
assignments, class discussion, quizzes, tests, heavy finals. I like
more the American way: itís true that there is more pressure on the
student, but itís fruitful, there is a reward, more knowledge comes
I donít know now but at least 20 years ago, another difference
was the semesterí length: the fall semester begins on the end of
September, early October and last until May, after which you can give
the final, but if you are not ready, you can give the final on any
date you choose, still after 6-12 months; and if you donít pass, you
can try 3 times, after that you have to retake the class. Then some
universities offer summer classes, but not every one.
Another big difference with the US system is that generally
talking, taxes are very low, like $450 or less per year, and there
is no tuition, being the universities based on state funds.
This is a similarity: after the university if you have time and
money, there are schools for Doctorate or Masters.
Just for a matter of country pride, itís amazing to remember that
Italy holds the University of Bologna, the oldest in Europe, since
13th century, older than Cambridge or Oxford.
What worked? What didnít?
In my case I sincerely hated - over the Latin - the Philosophy,
the Italian and the English classes: a bunch of reading and writing.
I am not really a guy of words, I am more in the numbers lines.
Gimme some equations, or some computer or programming problems, and
you make me a happy person. Over the fact, that with the words is
easy to contradict someone, while in scientific fields one has to
prove the facts.
Another thing that I disliked was that in some classes there was
a lack of care both about teaching and about studentsí progress. I
mean in Italy teachers are paid by the state, so some of them just
do the minimal effort to keep on the class.
Another thing I noticed that in Italy in many classes there is
not a periodical check on the homework. And I remember itís easier
to cheat. So due to all these matters, I think the teaching system
in U.S.A. is more profitable. I gained more tolerance too. But that
was the Italian school in the beginning of the 70ís. Today many things
have changed: we have distance learning, internet teaching, new ways
So for what is worth to go to school? By example to improve
education, or to learn better skills in the working field one did
choose. Letís say that someone becomes vice-president of a company,
if in her resume she had a business school, isnít it a lot better?
And isnít one of the purpose of the school to make better persons?
And education is useful to fight unemployment.
And there is another big motivation. Letís read a testimony found
on internet: ďIím attending Stockton for a few reasons but Iím
ultimately going to college for my future. I want to be successful
and rich so I can have all the good things in life. I figure since my
rock star career went south, Iíll have to hit the books. Iím here at
Stockton to attain a degree in business and learn the things I need
to become a strong businessman. I enjoy business and want to continue
with it for my career. Iíd love to be the CEO of some huge
corporation some day. I also want the full college experience
partying, girls, partying... College gives me something to keep me
going. Without it I feel like my job at the car wash is taking me
nowhere. I want to be able to have a family without financial stress
Maybe the problem is on another side. While the nation wastes
thousands of millions of US $ in useless rumors of wars, in what
appears nothing more than an electoral campaign, couldnít such rivers
of money used to pay education to who canít afford it? Or to build
schools in rural places, or to pay teachers? By example I personally
found that tuition for international students is at least scandalous.
So is education worth to have? Absolutely yes, but ...
"Some people will never learn anything, for this reason,
because they understand everything too soon
~~ Alexander Pope
So I think itís better that in school, every school, over the
manifest teaching, the truth be practiced, so that it come taught,
hiddenly or not.
What I mean for truth is to say how the things really are. Like
in History by example, where is said that first Crusade went to
Israel to free Jerusalem from the Muslims. But what is not said is
that the so called Crusaders, as soon as they entered Jerusalem,
they murdered with no distinction Muslims, Jews and Christians. So
it came out like a legend about the Crusaders, the commonly taught
History paints them like patriots or something, while the truth is
they were murderers, robbers and homosexuals. Indeed when they came
back, king Philippe of France sued them for homosexuality, and
seized their goods. This is what I mean to teach the truth. And if
the clever reader sees some comparisons with the modern times, she
or he is not so far from the truth.
"Educate the heart -- educate the heart. Let us have good men
" ~~ Hiram Powers