The Wall Street Journal had an item of interest … an article comparing US and Italian education systems penned by an ‘urban professional’ from the US working in Rome. Here’s the excerpt that caught my eye:
The pedagogy is old-fashioned, with lots of memorization: the despised “rote learning” that American educators have been warning against since before my own distant youth (but which news reports say is making a comeback there). Italian teachers make little effort to cultivate their pupils’ self-esteem or celebrate their precious snowflake-like individuality. Meetings with parents are about what their child does wrong, while whatever he’s learned is passed over in silence.
That can be frustrating for anyone who thrives on what Thomas Mann called “Vitamin P.” Yet no one who has let an excited second-grader drag him through the Musée D’Orsay in search of Impressionist masterpieces, or heard a third-grader give forth on Australopithecus and the Big Bang, or a fourth-grader recite a poem by Sappho, can doubt that Italian teachers are doing something right. With many other countries’ systems having all but abandoned classical languages, the prospect of my son taking five years of Latin and Greek in his teens gives me hope that he will reach adulthood with a sharp mind attuned to the resonances of the past.
… trying to picture a fourth-grader at my school reciting Sappho … can’t do it.