My experiences in my school in America have changed my general perspective about the United States education system. I am an international student and, for the most part of my life, I lived in Saudi Arabia, thus making it difficult on my part to adjust at first after transferring in America. As I have noticed, there are notable differences between the American and the Saudi Arabian education systems. In their entirety, the educational system differences sparked the change in my perspective towards the educational system in the United States.
In Saudi Arabia, students are not allowed and neither are they encouraged to have any form of close relationship with their teachers. The only relationship allowed, perhaps, is what one may call a “formal relationship”—a relationship that simply begins and ends inside the classroom for the duration of all the classes. Beyond the classroom or the school in general, we are discouraged from interacting too closely with our teachers for reasons that are largely related with their professional code of ethics. I can say that the way things are in the education system of Saudi Arabia, there is a very strict demarcation between what relationships are allowed and what are prohibited.
Another thing about the education system in my home country is that classes are predetermined. Students are not given the liberty to freely choose their own subjects and the corresponding time for each of the subjects they are to take. Instead, students are given subjects that have already been chosen for them systematically and the students can barely do anything about it. As a result, students are highly expected to adjust themselves, especially their time, with their roster of subjects everyday.
Although the approach works insofar as each student is at least guaranteed that he will be getting the needed subjects for school, it does not give ample room for every student to make his own decisions when it comes to his academic endeavors.
Upon transferring in America, I thought I will be experiencing more or less the same kind of educational system as the one in Saudi Arabia. I thought I should not expect too many changes in the American educational system not only because I barely knew anything about the nature of American schools but also because I thought all educational systems are similar. However, the course of time made me realize that there were huge differences between the American and the Saudi Arabian educational systems and the differences were for the positive.
For example, students in American schools are not discouraged from having informal and friendly relationships with their teachers. In fact, I have personally seen students in my school who are somewhat friends with their teachers especially after class hours. As a result, students are more at ease with their studies because they know for a fact that their teachers are also friendly just like them.
While the friendly atmosphere in schools fosters a comfortable feeling for the students, it does not compromise the teaching profession. As I have observed, teachers are still teachers and students are still students inside the classroom during class hours. The formal relationship between students and teachers is not reduced to nothing once inside the classroom despite the fact that they are friendly towards one another after classes.
I was also surprised with the way students are taught inside the classroom in the United States. One thing that surprised me the most is the fact that my new school offers innovative ways to teach their students. Part of these ways is through the use of high-tech tools in assisting students with the learning process. A large portion of these high-tech tools can be readily observed with the common use of computers and of the internet—two of the modern tools that my school back in Saudi Arabia barely offered to their students.
One of the things I liked most about the American educational system is that students are given more freedom when it comes to their academics. Back in Saudi Arabia, students were always obliged to comply with the school rules and regulations down to the last detail even if it meant conflict with the situation. In American schools, however, students are given the freedom to express themselves in school so long as it does not cause any harm to others. Students are also given the chance to express their views on certain issues that affect the entire student population regardless of whether the school administrators are asking for their opinion.
The major differences between the Saudi Arabian and American educational systems enlightened my perspective towards education in general. In the past, I thought all educational systems and schools are similar; changing schools anywhere in the world, I thought, will hardly bring any change at all. However, my experience in America disproved my belief, to which I am glad. I am glad that I was wrong about my perspective because I now know that there are still other educational systems that offer students the things they rightfully deserve as far as I believe.
I am glad that I was wrong about my earlier perspective because I would have otherwise deprived myself of the chance to truly feel and understand how it is to be a student in a foreign land that gives students the opportunity to explore their learning Now that I know that not all schools are the same, it is safe on my part to say that some educational systems are way better than others. Of course, I would rather prefer the better educational system. Who wouldn’t?