Bericht von Gastschülerin Alice Allocati.
Italy and Austria: comparing two schools
During my stay in Austria I had the opportunity how another school system works. In this text I am going to underline the differences between my Italian and my Austrian school, even if they maybe do not completely represent the school system in these countries.
The biggest difference between the two schools is the course of study. The school I attend in Italy is a “Liceo Scientifico”, that in the Austrian school system is the equivalent of the “Naturwissenschaftgymnasium”. In Austria instead I was attending the “HAK” that is a professional school. This means that the subjects are really different: I changed from subjects like physics, philosophy and Latin to subjects like accountings, business behaviour and office management.
Another difference is also the evaluation. In Austria the grades go from 1 to 5, where 1 is the best and 5 is the only insufficiency, while in Italy they go from 0 or 1 to 10, where 10 is the best and 5 or less is the insufficiency. Personally, I think that this difference in the grades scales is in some ways affecting the difference in the relationship between teacher and students. Indeed, in Italy the teachers are stricter when giving an evaluation, but normally the students, through oral and written tests, can easily improve their marks. In Austria, where the teachers are more flexible, the marks depend prevalently on the results of the “Schularbeit”, an exam given in every subject near to the end of the semester (that correspond to the Italian quadrimester).
A typical day in the Austrian school
The school day in Austria starts at 7:50 and every lesson is made of 50 minutes. As in Italy, if one student is late he/she can wait until the following lessons to enter in the class. All the hours skipped need to be justified to the “Klassenvostand” (“coordinatore di classe”) and communicated to the school on time.
The students do not have school on Saturday, as it happen in Italy, but in a week there is at least one day where they have to stay at school until 16:00 for physical education, business behaviour (for these subjects they also have time to change their clothes) or extra classes. In the Austrian school there is a break every two hours, the first last 15 minutes, the second 5 minutes and the last one 1 hour, so the student can have lunch before the afternoon activities.
Despite my (Italian) preparation has always been admired here in Austria, what the teacher look for in a student preparation is completely different from Italy.
In the Italian school the students always need to know the reason why they are doing a certain thing; the key for the success in this case is “always ask yourself why”. In Austria it is the opposite: it matters more the practical and productive part rather than the theoretical one. The students need to know how to do something but they do not always know why they are doing in this way. Furthermore the behaviour of the students, that are not always participative and observant in the lessons, would be hardly tolerated by an Italian teacher.
By the way, the time I spent in the Austrian school was always pleasant and all the people were comprehensive. I have been always welcomed and supported, and this helped me in a better understanding of their culture.