High school in the UK
It’s interesting to have a chance to teach English abroad because you get to see a completely different education system from the one you experienced. I am teaching in Belgium this year and I have noticed that there are some big differences.
In the UK, for example, as many of you will know, it is common to wear a school uniform. This is for egalitarian reasons: if students all wear the same thing then, in theory, they will feel less excluded as everyone looks the same. It is also nice to wear a school uniform because you don’t have to think about what to wear in the morning; you just put on your uniform and off you go. This saves a lot of time as you don’t have to worry about what to wear, what looks nice and what is fashionable.
Another difference I have noticed also concerns clothing: teachers dress in a more relaxed way in Belgium. They wear jeans and trainers for example. In my experience in the UK, teachers dress much more formally to work in a school. They wear similar things to the people who work in an office: shirt and tie for men; dresses, skirts, dark trousers and shirts for women. With this in mind, I bought a new pair of black shoes for my new job as a language assistant, assuming it would be inappropriate to wear my Converse to work. (I was wrong, haha!)
As I am working with older students (who are aged from 16 to 18) I have also noticed that they have a lot more subjects than I did at their age. In the UK, at 16 you enter ‘sixth form’ and you have to choose four subjects (five if you have very good grades). Some people like this, as it means you do not have to study subjects you don’t like. Others feel that it is too early to make such a big choice, because the subjects you choose at 16 will have an impact on what you can study at university. Me? I loved this system. I threw myself into my four favourite subjects and I am grateful for the experience I had.