Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING
 

LIVING                                                                      OCTOBER 2010


     I.B  OR NOT I.B …………ITS VALUE IS OUR QUESTION

 

Given the current economic crisis, and being an immigrant in a country with a less organized infrastructure, we have been faced with many dilemmas concerning our children’s’ education.

When we arrived here on the island, it was quite refreshing to be able to send our children to the local schools. There was no issue of comparing best Sat results or preparing for competitive secondary schools, they simply attended their local school.  At school, they were taught modern and ancient Greek, pure mathematics to a high standard and all the theory of science. Not being facilities for laboratory experiments, the children were advised to conduct some experiments at home and although they were taught rudimentary art and music, there was not the input that they’d experienced at their English schools where they visited galleries to consolidate their learning of art history and prepared for concerts to demonstrate their music skills…but the Greek s believe in teaching only essential core subjects and perhaps they have a point, after all, why waste so many hours arranging trips for children who have no artistic interest when (it has been argued) they can have extra lessons privately or can indulge their interests at home? Whilst teaching concentrates on more factual ‘useful’ subjects, that said, what if a family cannot afford extra lessons? How does a talented child then realize his artistic talents?

What mainly concerned us though was the future picture…. Where would our children attend university? One cannot assume ones child will attend university in Athens as it seems that EVERY Greek wants to attend university there. Not being at all familiar with Greece outside Athens, I wouldn’t have the time or energy to traipse around peripheral cities looking for accommodation and then what about the job market? Do we really want our children to fight their way through a market which is tainted with meson(knowing the right people) and devoid of meritocracy?

No, for us and particularly me, I want our children to attend a university where accommodation officers are in place, where friends and family can help in a crisis and where their CV matters more than their personal contacts.

So we visited every English senior high school in Athens, looking at the environment, the school philosophy and location in relation to Aegina and whether a school bus was available that might travel as far down as Piraeus

We finally found a school where the headmaster was delightfully intelligent, wonderfully eccentric in the wholesome English way and devoid of showmanship, whose shoes  and personality were sensible Clarks and not Gucci, who wasn’t eager to grab business but demonstrated an interest in the child.

The syllabus it offered though was the International Baccalaureate, not A levels which are taught in England. Universities require 3 A levels. Oxford University will normally ask for 3 A levels  at grade A.

For the I.B, children have to study three subjects at higher level and three at standard. They are also required to write and extended essay and a paper on theory of Knowledge. Failing either of these papers but passing the exams, results in failure of the I.B. They are also expected to dedicate many hours to community service

Our eldest son wanted to read Economics at university. To get into a prestigious university like L.SE. he would need A level maths, grade A.

He was studying higher maths for I.B which cannot be compared to A level; it is much more difficult. LSE want higher level 7 for economics, a higher level than that required at A level. ( A* )My son then decided to choose another course for which level 6 maths was required at I.B.

Perhaps then  a solution is to organize a maths tutor. Here in Greece, one will meet a situation of staggering immorality. Here, maths tutors charge on average 100 Euro per hour, taking full advantage of a need that is difficult to meet.  Do they pay tax? Of course not! It all goes straight into their pockets.

Our son is a serious student who has won several prizes and works hard towards exams. He didn’t achieve the required level for mathematics, not helped by the fact that his Greek tutor let him down before his last paper. (we struggled to find enough money to buy a few hours support) Claiming to be ill, I have to believe him but a small nagging doubt in my mind suspects another desperate parent might have offered to grease his greedy palm with more money.

 He didn’t get into his university of choice but all has worked out well as he has gained a place at a university with an excellent business school and an equally excellent reputation but he was lucky. I think though, had he have studied 3 A levels, he would have reached wherever he wanted

When looking through the UCAS site at entry qualifications, I have noticed that several universities ask  I.B  students for English language at standard level. English children only need a minimum of G.C.S.E English, grade B. The I.B course is taught in English and my children have English as their first language, plus they both have passed their G.C.S.E exams in both language AND literature yet they are required to prove this extra capability . This is understandable if they were to read English at university but for other subjects, such as geography and economics, it makes no sense.

Academics argue that the I.B is sound preparation for university but that is only if a child can get in and after all their hard work, is it really an achievement to attend an obscure university that is nearing number 100 in the league tables?

My friend is right. A highly educated doctor, her son attended a school where the children could decide to prepare for  A levels or the I.B. After much extensive research, she concluded that the I.B cheats children in the U.K. Where they can concentrate all their effort s on three subjects versus six plus community service and two academic papers, she verbalized what I had been worrying about. Why put a child through such hoops when there is an easier path towards a goal!? Our eldest child is considering a year of commercial work experience abroad. On the application form it claims that potential candidates must have 3 ‘A ’levels, grade A or 320 UCAS points. Our son’s UCAS score is 480 when one converts his I.B scores. Translated, his I.B score is worth 4 ‘A’ levels, grade  A.

Unfortunately, our second child is keen to study towards the I.B much to our discouragement…we wanted him to change school to follow an easier path towards university in England. He however, cannot bear to separate from his friends

We will be looking very closely at his end of year exam results and if they show little promise, we will insist he changes direction which will mean changing school and although it may be considered a waste of money, it might at least be considered good preparation for A levels! …. Watch this space……


Alison Lorentzos                                                               copyright 2010



 

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