So, we took our little boys to see their new school today and I have to say that so far, I am not disappointed. For me, everything about how they do things screams common sense, for example, the fact that they wear different “indoor” shoes inside school. I don’t think it took a brain surgeon to work that one out, so why doesn’t it happen in the UK?
The whole school had a calm, informal air about it – the head teacher’s room had a lovely wooden plaque above the door proclaiming her name. No stiff, starchiness here. All of the teachers greeted us warmly and shook our hands and announced their name in the customary Swedish way. Could you imagine that happening in the UK? I realise that us British folk can be very set in our ways, but is it necessary for things to be so formal where little people are concerned? Do we, as Brits, like (and feel comforted by) formal relationships? If you think about it logically, children are probably more likely to respond to an “Agneta” rather than a “Miss Gunnarson” and I think that in that respect, Sweden have got it right.
Another thing that I really admired was that the “mature” receptionist/admin lady who took us around tried so very hard to speak to me in English (in my experience, I have found that the older someone is in Sweden, the less they are likely to speak English). It made me feel that my children were welcomed (and that we were, too). Everything I have learnt so far about Swedish schools seems to correlate the fact that each pupil is dealt with on an individual basis. The fact that the lady at the school seemed to bend over backwards to talk to me in my native language felt very reassuring and was greatly appreciated. The thing that gave us the biggest push to move back to Sweden was our children (and primarily) the schools. We got tangled up in the politics of our school in the UK, fought hard to be taken seriously and felt severely let down. My eldest went through some problems that were not only un-recognised by the school, but were not acknowledged or dealt with appropriately when we brought them to their attention. I felt that both of my “average Joe” boys were largely ignored and were certainly not encouraged as much as they should have been. I also got an overwhelming sense that they just did not “get” my eldest. He is very like his father in many respects and I have often felt he was more Swedish in his thoughts and behaviour. I am truly hoping (and have firm belief that it will) that his new teachers will recognise some of his quirkiness, help him get past his feelings of not being good enough and low self-esteem and help him on his way to becoming the great man I know he will be.
One of the qualities I admire most about Swedish people is their gentle calmness. Nothing really seems to fase them. I am a loud and often “shouty” person and sometimes feel self conscious about my lack of personal discipline when amongst people who rarely raise their voices. But, in a school environment, I feel it is so important. Both of boys would come home and tell me how much their teachers shouted. On several occasions I raised this with various teachers and every single time they told me that they didn’t shout at pupils. That used to un-nerve me. Firstly, you are calling children liars and secondly, if you are denying you are doing it, you know you are doing something wrong in the first place. So, although I do feel that my personality clashes a bit with those in Sweden, I am reassured that my boys will be taught in a calm environment where they will be encouraged and listened to 🙂