March 20, 2006

Well, If Her Majesty Approves...

You know how your friends who went to Lycee Francaise, even the American ones--who am I kidding? especially the American ones--would have that bilingual message on their answering machine, and you were all, "Dude, I get it. You speak French."?

Well, maybe the popularity of "texting" threw me off, but I was as surprised to learn there is no British school in New York City. Until now. The British International School of New York opens its leased riverview doors to 100 kids K-2 this September. It will feature "the British National Curriculum [which] is approved and its standards maintained by Her Majesty's Department of Education and Skills and the Office for Standards in Education."

The school's press release boasts a "staff-to-pupil ratio of 9-1," which I really hope is just backwards--like how they drive on the other side of the road--because otherwise, whoa. Your kid will expect you to keep shelling out for the giant retinue of liveried servants [or a "posse," as we say here in the colonies] to which she has become accustomed. We are amused.

New York's First British School to Open its Doors this September [prnewswire via yahoo]
founder uses the phrase, "all things British": New York parents opt for English education [ via dt reader buck]


Well, that also means that they'll know by 8th Grade if they're going to a real university or have to join some crappy union.

I don't get the need for a British school. At least with a French school they learn another language. What little extra do you get at a British school? Bad dental hygiene? Dry humor? A disdain for all American copies of British shows?

["lorry," "lift," "rubbish," &c., &c. -ed.]

What is the difference between a Catholic School in New York and a Mormon School in Utah? The language is the same!

The point is that the curriculum and the values taught are different between British schools, International schools, and American schools.

One interesting thing is that London (and indeed, much of England) is FULL of American schools. Different things are taught to the students, and the British seem to recognize that American and British curricula are different. However, Americans are so proud of our educational system that we think that surely any British child could succeed in an American school. Americans don't seem to get the point that the schools are DIFFERENT... it isn't a question of better or worse. America needs more British schools because British children can't be adequately schooled in American schools.

Also, it is important to recognize that there is a difference between British students living in New York for their entire education and children of expatriots, who either move from place to place around the globe often, or who might only be living in America for a short time. The British International School of New York is set up mostly for expat families, to whom a British curriculum might make the most difference.

The British system is very structured around tests (A-Levels, GCSEs, etc.), so a British child living in America (and at an American school) for, say 3 years, would be disadvantaged as they wouldn't be prepared for the tests in the same way as a British child in a British school. And if the student missed an important test, it might be nearly impossible for them to return to British education upon their return to the U.K.

The British curriculum teaches things at different times than American curriculums. Moving back and forth between America and the UK when I was growing up, I missed certain important topics, such as Algebra, because the different curricula both teach it, just at different times. I moved to the UK before my American school taught Algebra and moved back to the US after Algebra had been taught (and before the British curricula taught Algebra). Also, the British curriculum emphasizes different things, such as individualized learning, which enables students who are ready to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic early to do so.

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