As you know, I surveyed my 3rd year gymnasium students about their perspective on this issue of fighting in the schools. So many of the adults weighed in with their opinions and thoughts on my original blog post, but instead of clearing things up for me about WHY fighting was a part of my regular routine in an American high school, but here in Denmark, it just muddied the waters more as everyone's comments gave me MORE to think about! :-) (which is a good thing, in my opinion!)
Here is what I asked the students:
1. Have you ever been in or witnessed a fight in the Danish school system?
2. If your answer is no, please give your thoughts about why you think fighting is not so prevalent in our schools in Denmark?
Rather than actually disaggregating their data and trying to draw conclusions from what they said, as I read all of their answers, I began to think there is more value in actually quoting some of them. It shows not only their experience related to physical conflicts, but it also gives a glimpse into their opinions about the lesser amounts of physical conflicts in the Danish schools. I am not setting out to prove or disprove any theories, but rather to talk to as many people possible about this so that perhaps some conclusions will arise on their own... Enjoy!
(And one side note before you read the students' comments---Did you know that it is against the law in Denmark for a parent to physically discipline his child? Just a little more fodder for you! )
I have never seen a fight at school. I think it’s because we are all basically “alike” I mean both financially and that we all have the same “values” or “ideas” of how you behave or treat other people. And I think all that is because of our parents. I think a child’s parents play a very important role in how the child behaves in “public”. It’s so important that you from childhood learn the “right” values and good manners, and the meaning of the word respect. I mean a child can’t be born “bad”. But of course this is just my opinion and I know it’s not that simple, there can be other problems the families are dealing with, and there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration.
I guess (and I'm no historian or expert in the American society, so it is truly a guess) that Danes have never had to "defend" themselves in that kind of way. You know it's the same with the gun law from what I understand. I would think that it is somehow connected to way back when the colonists came. This might be very stereotypical of me but there seems to be this attitude toward getting back and defending yourself almost like it is holy. Sometimes I think that is very unhealthy.
The other thing is which is probably more directly connected to today is that from what I've heard from two students who were exchange students in the US last year) is that the law is on the parents' side in some states? In Denmark you can't hit your child or whatever and they told me that some of the people she talked to thought of it as normal. So when the Danish children misbehave (fx by starting a fight) they are not being punished by a hand, but are told that hitting someone is always wrong ..
Again don't shoot me, I don't think every single American parent hits their children, but do you see what I'm saying about the connections?
I have once witnessed a 'fight' at the gymnasium. One of the students from another gymnasium attended the ÆB-café, which is an event for our students only. One of the 3rd-years told him to leave, but he refused, the student told him again and that angered the other student. He slapped the student from our school once, and stormed off.. I think that a lot of the students who attend our school, have a mentality that leans towards 'passivism' - the HHX-students refers to us as hippies, but I guess it's just a compliment, then. ;)
I have never seen a fight in the Gymnasium, and I would be shocked if it happened. The only fight I have ever seen on a school's property was in fourth grade, and that was just some young guys who couldn’t handle losing a football game. It is like we are too "old" to handle problems by fighting, we know that the only way to solve a problem is to start a dialog.
The Danish society is build up by the Welfare State, we pay very high taxes which results in the economic situation between the citizens isn’t as different as it is in America. So that must be one of the reasons. I think the society is very careful in Denmark, the teacher in the primary and lower secondary schools are observing the children all the time. I once had an English teacher who pulled one of my classmates out from the class, she wanted to tell her that her new friends was bad company. Of course she wouldn’t listen to her even though, we all including her knew the teacher was right. So the society is trying to help all the unstable persons. I think we tend to blame the society in Denmark if something goes wrong, if we know that there is a family who is unstable we don’t blame the economic status we blame the people who are surrounding the family and sometimes it is ourselves.
No, I have never been in a fight and I think the main reason is, that it's just not normal (at least not for us girls) to defend ourselves with our fists. In the 'folkeskole' we were taught to turn to our teacher if something was going on, and we had a lot of 'krise-møder' and that helped us to talk things over. And now in the gymnasium it would seem really odd to start a fight!
I have not experienced a fight at Herning Gymnasium so far, and I don't think I ever will.
The reason why I think that fights are more common in American highschools is because the USA is not as homogeneus as Denmark. The diversity between rich and poor in America is larger and more dominating than in DK. This economic diversity between people makes a huge diversity between "social status" and the young people are raised differently dependent on socioeconomic class, and I think this makes a large space between the young people. These "walls of differences" are made between them, and maybe the fights are kind of a "reaction to the unfamiliar".
Because DK is more homogenous I think it makes us more "similiar" as what comes to class, and thereby easer for us to cooperate. Of course DK is not as multicultural as America, and that is a huge factor as well. If we look at a typical American highschool I also think there are more "stereotypes". Why? I don't know. And I don't know if this is true. But different stereotypes can also mean huge diversities, whereas they can lead to fights as well.
I have never been in a fight or seen one in Herning Gymnasium. There have been small episodes in "Folkeskolen" that I have witnessed, but nothing real serious.
I don't think we have these kind of fights in Denmark because we probably have more ambitions when it comes to school and education. The society puts a lot of pressure on us to succeed and get good grades that can help us to achieve the top educations.
The gap between rich and poor is so small that we don't really have big economic differences, which means we are all equal. If you need money or help the state will provide that for you. Since we don't have these huge differences in our society it makes us not want to rebel or make physical statements. We have always been taught to handle our situations orally rather than physically because physical contact with another human will not help your situation at all.
It's not that we've never had a figt, but where the fighting in school may happen is in "folkeskole". When we are in "folkeskole" we are not that old, and it's totally different from the gymnasium. We are almost adults now, and we have to take some responsibility. By the way, instead of fighting physically we react by fighting verbaly. Well at least that's what I think.
I've witnessed a few fights in my folkeskole, but that was before 7 grade. The thought of a true fight happening in the gymnasium is absolutly absurd. It would never happen.
I think we just view it as normal to NOT walk up to someone and hit them. It would be very out of place.
I have never seen a fight in the gymnasium or in my "folkeskole" :) It is really interesting that you take this up for debate! I had never thought about it before. It is not often you hear about fights in DK. if you do, it is only at parties, where people are drunk.
So what's next?
Have I solved anything? Or just muddied the muddier waters even more?
I am guessing that whoever said that stimulating Dialogue wasn't a bit muddy never asked the questions I am asking!