by Zak Minett
We had the lucky chance to interview Richard Lander School’s Lithuanian intern, Mrs Vaisviliene, who has been at the school for about a month, learning about the differences between her school in Lithuania where she teaches English, and our school in England. Lithuania is the largest country on the Baltic coast and has a population of about 3,000,000. It has an impressive economy and has been part of the EU since 2004. Mrs Vaisviliene gave us some insight into Lithuanian culture when it comes to education;
In Lithuania, how would you compare the classes to our classes in England?
‘’I have noticed the students here enjoy school a lot more. I like the atmosphere here and the way that the learning process is organised. I have also been impressed by the facilities at Richard Lander School. In Lithuania, our classes are mostly very traditional but are moving on to being less traditional and more fun. Another difference is that children do not all finish their school day at the same time, some classes might have 5 lessons in a day, some others may have 6 or 7. Each lesson always lasts for 45 minutes. Also, our marking scheme is very different to yours; we mark using 1 – 10, with 1, 2, and 3 being ‘negative’ marks. Sometimes if a child has several negative marks in a year, they have to attend school during the summer holidays to improve their marks and if they do not put enough effort in they might be kept back to retake that year.
How does the curriculum differ to ours?
‘’ There are lessons which you have which we don’t have, for example, Drama, which is usually an extra-curricular activity or may be offered as an optional subject for senior students in some schools. Also, instead of having 1 lesson of science, we teach biology, chemistry, and physics. I think that schools in Lithuania, focus too much on the academic side of teaching. I would like to learn more and share with my colleagues how the knowledge children acquire at school can be applied to real life situations.
What has been your favourite department to work in so far?
I haven't worked in many departments yet but as a teacher I like English, and teach it in Lithuania as a second language, although as a person I prefer the crafts so I really enjoy art and D.T.
Are there any notable changes between uniform and school dinners?
Yes. In our school everybody has school dinners, because of this, our school canteen sells a large selection of food. A lot of the food is 'homemade' in style.
As for uniform, until a year ago we did not have one. Now we have a navy blue blaze or V-neck, but children are allowed to wear whatever they want under that, the pupils can even wear jeans if they wish.
If you could share one thing from our school and one thing from your school, what would you choose?
‘’In Lithuania we do not normally have Teaching Assistants in the classroom. I would bring TAs back to Lithuania as I think they contribute a large amount. From Lithuania, I would bring the long summer break to British schools; as we break up in the middle of June and go back on 1st September.
A big thank you to Mrs Vaisviliene for her co-operation and for giving us such an interesting insight into Lithuanian education and how it is different to our education in England.