One of the first things I wanted to do in America was for Valerie to take me to a proper all American high school, so that I could see whether or not it was just like in the movies.
Poor Val however, was not to keen on the prospect of going back to the place where she spent most of her awkward teenage years…
I, on the other hand, got excited just by seeing the bleachers (“Oh my god Val, it is just like in that Taylor Swift song where she sings “She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers”!):
An all American cafeteria:
And for the most exciting aspect of it all – real legit American cheerleaders:
For lunch, Valerie took me out to Dairy Cottage to try out cheesesteaks, a local speciality of Philadelphia consisting of a sandwich made from thinly cut pieces of steak with cheese. Despite receiving several alarming warnings about the nature of cheesesteaks, I actually genuinely liked them a lot!
I found myself quite amazed and mesmerized by the American high school. Now, I am of course not very familiar with the American school system at all, however it does seem a lot less apathetic than its Norwegian equivalent, with a greater focus on extra curricular activities and ambitious pursuits. First of all, American high schools have sport teams, put up shows and theatres and even have school bands and school choirs. Such things are either rare or completely non-existent in Norwegian Schools, resulting not only in a lack of school spirit, but also in a loss of intellectual, creative and social stimulation, turning the kids even more apathetic than they would be otherwise. Secondly, American schools push their kids harder in terms of realizing their full potential, seeing talent as something positive which needs to be encouraged rather than something negative which should be stifled. This differs very much from the Norwegian (and Scandinavian mentality in general) which is centred around the principle of equality – in other words, Norwegian schools stultify talented children in order to be on par with other children, rather than pushing the “ordinary” children into being on par with the talented ones. We call it “Janteloven”, basically an unwritten law saying that nobody should stand out too much, or believe that they can possibly be better than anyone else. Where I come from, there is no such thing as a “gifted class” etc. like there is in America, because Norwegians feel that it would create an unfortunate divide and hierarchy between the students. However, should a child not be able to realize his or her full potential?
I am sure there are many problematic issues regarding the American school system as well – however this was one detail about the American and the Norwegian school mentality that struck me.