I don’t really understand how the Croatian elementary school system works. Obviously, I went through the Oklahoma school system, therefore I can’t even draw on my own experience to understand the Croatian system. Most, of what little I do understand comes from my daughter. And she’s seven.
One day she told me that she got a new job, which was interesting considering I didn’t even know she had an old job. For a moment I was beginning to doubt the quality of my parenting. ‘What is your new job?’ I asked. ‘Sweeping the floor,’ she replied. Sweeping the floor? Was this some kind of Charles Dickens school where the kids had to work to attain gruel for lunch? I hoped not because we had also been paying for my daughter’s lunch.
‘Do other kids have jobs too? I asked. ‘Daddy, everyone has a job.’ Oh, well that makes me feel better. I went on to ask what their jobs were. ‘Well…’ she began thoughtfully. ‘Sweeping the floor, cleaning the board, getting the papers, picking up the cups, and, you know what the best job is?’ I shook my head. ‘Being leader of the line when we go outside!’
I wanted to know more about these ‘jobs,’ like how are they distributed? Are there politics involved? Who gets what and why? Should I take some chocolates out of the secret gift cupboard just in case? I learned, and again my ‘source’ isn’t always the most articulate or reliable, that each week my daughter’s class changes jobs and most of these jobs entail helping out in the classroom.
This is great. I’m happy that my daughter is assigned a task on which other people depend on its completion. I believe it’s teaching her and her classmates social responsibility and the importance of completing their obligations. I’m not sure if this is a Croatian thing, a just my-daughter’s-school-thing, or even something only her class does, but I’m a fan. In the US, I never did anything like this, but I think it would have been constructive.
As a parent of an only child it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of doing nearly everything for her (because I do it faster). But, lately I’ve noticed that she’s been doing more on her own. Things like carrying her plate to the sink when she’s done eating, picking up a bit more, and not screaming for me to come into the living room just to change the channel with the remote control that was sitting, literally, right next to her. I think this behavior stems from her jobs at school.
I know there are a lot of opinions about the Croatian school system, many of them negative. But, the most important opinion is perhaps of a seven-year-old who likes math, has learned to read, and is learning what it means for other’s to depend on her. The way my daughter talks about her ‘jobs’ at the school, gives me hope that her school is doing its job, and doing it well.