I haven’t done a Swiss cultural post for a while, so I thought I’d do one for fun. Today, my 3rd grader is at the local swimming pool with his class. (I’m writing this on Friday, even though I’m publishing it on Sunday.) A normal thing to do, but it will probably make your American head spin. Here’s why:
- No permission slip. The teacher just sent home a note saying “this is what we’re doing. Send swimming suits and 5 franks so your kid can buy ice cream.” Except she said it in German.
- No advance planning. The teacher looked at the forecast and said decided it seemed like fun. So they are going.
- There are no lifeguards at the pool. It’s a public, outdoor pool. Any by pool and I mean a baby pool, a diving pool, a lap pool, and a fun splashing pool that varies in depth from about 3 feet at one end to 6 feet at the other. There’s also a twisty water slide. Swiss pools don’t do lifeguards unless it’s a super scary slide or something. I would not want to be a teacher taking kids to the pool without lifeguard help.
- No parental help. She might have grabbed a parent, but I doubt it. 16 kids, no parents needed on field trips.
- They walked to the pool. Google Maps says it’s 2.2 kilometers, but I suspect they took the 2.5-kilometer trip as it’s off the main streets. They will walk back to school as well, but the teacher will let the kids go if they pass their house, so they don’t have to backtrack.
I still find this amazing. I still have to sign permission slips for my 13-year old that attends the international school. The parents there are a more litigious bunch.
I also still get caught on weird cultural things. This is his 5th year in Swiss schools (2 years of kindergarten), and in the past,they’ve run around barefoot in gym class. This year they have to have gym shoes. Except no one told me. All the other parents just *know* these things. It’s so strange to me.
The other weird thing is that in 5 years of schooling, he has yet to have a teacher that works full time. He’s always had a teacher in a job share. I don’t know if that’s just his luck or if that is super common in the Swiss schools. His head teacher from the past two years just had a baby in August. She told me that in January she’s going back to school, teaching two or so hours a day. I bet there are a lot of American Moms who wish they could work that kind of part time with a new baby!