Regardless of what part of the world you are in, the culture of the region plays a role in the educational environment within a school. During my time at St Paul’s school in Barcelona, I have noticed several connections between this city’s culture and the educational environment.
Creativity and the arts is one aspect of Barcelona’s culture that I have seen integrated into the educational environment. Barcelona is full of museums, art festivals, graffiti, and craftsmen. The culture of the school reflects this by integrating art into several subjects, fostering students’ creativity, and establishing a “Sports and Creativity” block for two hours every Wednesday. During this time, the students take part in semester-long creative projects that involve art, technology, and music. For example, this semester they are creating animations using clay models and an animation app on the iPad. After they finish their animation, they will compose and record their own music to play in the background of their creation. The school gives the students many opportunities to showcase their artistic talent, which is reflected by the students’ drive to create quality art.
Although most students at this school speak fluent English, the languages within the region affect the educational environment as well. The majority of the school day is taught in English, but they also receive instruction in Spanish for one block during the day and instruction in Catalan for another block during the day. This week, I had the opportunity to observe a Spanish class. Although I could not understand the majority of what the students and teachers were saying, I could see that the students’ personalities and demeanors changed as they spoke their native language. One student who is very quiet and shy during most of the day was quite talkative and enthusiastic during the Spanish class. It is very interesting to see how the opportunity to speak a different language can affect the behavior of a student in such a significant way.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, the city of Barcelona is very slow-paced, casual, and relaxed. The culture of this school reflects this casual way of life in several ways. For example, the students refer to the teachers by their fist name. At first, it was difficult to adjust to the students calling me “Anna”, but I have grown to like it. Although there is still a culture of professionalism, the teachers dress very casually, seem to be more relaxed with their teaching, and build friendly relationships with both other teachers and their students. Some teachers also tend to give their students a few extra minutes of recess and allow them to take whatever time they need to finish in-class activities and projects. Upon returning to the States, I feel as though I will miss the creative, linguistically diverse, and slow-paced culture of St. Paul’s school and Barcelona. I have enjoyed the opportunity to experience a completely different way of life and outlook on education. This experience has changed my views on teaching in some ways and I hope to use these new ideologies in my future classroom.
This past weekend, I was able to experience the culture of Barcelona by attending several festivals, exploring neighborhoods, and sailing on the Mediteranean sea. Below are some photos of my journeys: