An unexpected and exciting experience
~ By Mario
From being offered a job at my old high school to moving to Playa del Carmen, teaching has been an unexpected and exciting experience since I’ve graduated. Though my combined experience in the United States or Mexico only amounts to a year or so, I’ve been in both places long enough to say that there are apparent differences in the ways that school in each country educate and socialize their young. Through different subject matter and student-teacher relationships, the educational systems in Mexico and the United States offer different styles which have their own advantages and disadvantages.
The subject matter which pertains to schools in the United States mostly relates to learning basic intellectual aspects such as grammar and pronunciation whereas schools in Mexico focus on educating their children to be well-mannered and socialized. This relates to our Volunquest training which emphasizes the difference between “well-educated” which pertains to intelligence and “buen educado” which pertains to manners. While my first graders in the United States focused on reading stories aloud and emphasizing unique sounds, my first graders in Mexico are still learning how to sit still! As I’ve come to adopt the style of teaching here, my interactions with the students focus on teaching them how to behave well and participate rather than intellectual aptitude. As opposed to strictly following the lesson plans, every class that listens and has fun is definitely how I measure success in the school in Playa del Carmen.
The affectionate and friendly relationships I share with the students here is surely something that I prefer over the environment in the United States. Whereas teachers are discouraged from being affectionate in the United States, schools in Mexico foster an environment which gives the children love and attention. Giving high fives and pats on the back as well as getting hugs from the entire class are actions which I can express freely without fear of hearing from parents or the director. This atmosphere complements the idea here that socialization is rewarded over letter grades.
These are just two overarching aspects which differ between the educational environments in Mexico and the United States. Though it’s difficult for one to judge which is “better,” experiencing these peculiarities is something which I’ll continue to enjoy and learn through my time in Playa del Carmen and my teaching career as a whole.