Stepping back to look at something through others’ eyes is a very interesting exercise. What do they know? What do they think they know? What have they heard and seen? How do they interpret it all? This semester, I asked my students to tell me something they’ve learned about US culture. Sometimes their views were distorted; sometimes they were coloured by people and events; sometimes they were crystal clear. They were always interesting.
Some of my favorites:
What I very generally learned and started also to respect is that, be it any issue that Americans face, that issue will surely be discussed. Free speech is very important, and everyone takes it seriously, even if it leads to clashes of ideas and people.
This semester I have learned many things, but one of the most important is that the educational system is diseased by the standardized tests…
I have learned to pay more attention to details when consulting numbers, statistics or data of any kind.
…that these [standardized] tests are so high in number reflects a certain, probably very widespread American mentality, which is, “Get it done! We don’t care how, but get it done!” In principle this sounds very motivating, especially in a competitive environment, but it should be applied elsewhere, not in the field of education.
…like most of the multi-national and multi-racial countries, the US has issues regarding racism and discrimination.
What I’ve learned in this course is to look at the US’s state in a more complex way and look behind the stereotypes that it has. I learned that we have so many similar problems.