This would definitely NOT happen in the U.S. – (School in Spain)

While experiencing life here in Spain, I have been very deliberate with myself, and the kids, to not sound judgmental when commenting on the way things are done in Spain.  I don’t want to sound, and I don’t want the kids to sound whiney, but accept that different people do different things, or handle situations in a different manner.

However, we had an experience that was just really bizarre.  So strange in fact, that I thought I was misunderstanding what was going on, and what was being asked of us.

Here’s what went down at our School in Spain:

Heidi and I go to pick up the kids at school on a day when they have comedor.  This is when the kids stay after school, have a traditional lunch, and play with their classmates.  It’s run by three or four ladies, who, to my knowledge, are not teachers. We arrive, and as we’re looking for the kids, I see Lars sitting on the ground close to the school gate.  His expression is neutral, but I can tell something is up.  One of the ladies is holding a child’s hand, and is telling Heidi that something happened to Lars.

I figured it was some bullying thing, or accident, or something like that.  Now all of this happens very quickly, and there are multiple conversations going on, so that adds to my confusion.  Now the lady that is holding the kid’s hand is telling Heidi that he was throwing stuff at Lars.  (The kid is maybe 3 years old, and 3 feet high.)  Lars is usually very good with little kids, so the Confusion Factor is increasing.  What the lady is asking Heidi to do is to yell at the kid.  Huh?  What!?

Meanwhile, I’m having a side conversation with the same lady asking if this kid is the problem.  She’s basically telling me this kid is bad.  I ask, “Mal?“, and she says, “Sí.  Muy muy mal.”  (Very very bad).  So as I understand it, this 3 foot kid is concentrated evil, and he was beating on my kid, and she wants Heidi to yell at the kid.  While this is going on, Heidi bends down, and is telling the kid, “Lars es mi hijo.  No tires.”  (Lars is my son.  Don’t throw.)  As Heidi is talking to the kid (not yelling), they other women around seem to be egging Heidi on.  I didn’t understand what they were saying, but it felt like, “Yeah!  Tell him off!”

(side note: it seems that it is acceptable for adults to scold/yell at any child in the wrong)

The kid is kinda crying, and I got the distinct impression that the ladies were displeased with Heidi’s performance, and that they wished she had really let the kid have it.  Now once I realize what’s going on, I’m a bit disappointed that they didn’t ask me, because I could have really scared the crap out of the kid.  Can you imagine me being very animated, and yelling at a kid?  I would have scared him good.

Can you believe this sort of thing is OK?  I can’t imagine that happening in the U.S., but I guess it’s tolerated here at our school in Spain.

I guess it takes a village to discipline a child.

This entry was posted in Education, Experiences and tagged , by Alan Wagoner. Bookmark the permalink.

About Alan Wagoner

Alan digs on technology and travel and is definitely the comic in the family. He's traveled all over the globe in search of cultural experiences. He has a fantastic wife and two great children that put up with his "humor", and luckily they all love travel as well. In Aug 2012, they sold their house and all of their possessions and moved to Spain to soak up the culture. He has written a book titled Live In Spain to help those wanting to obtain a Spanish Resident Visa. He also loves to write about the funnier side of the family's adventures.

18 thoughts on “This would definitely NOT happen in the U.S. – (School in Spain)

  1. I will tell you that my husband has told me stories like this about growing up in Kenya. He said it was worse when a neighbor or someone who knew your family caught you doing something wrong because they would yell at you, spank you and take you to your parents who would do it all over again.

      • LOL! That kid is lucky that you didn’t move to Dominican Republic… there they would have had you spank the kid, and then tell his mom who would later on spank him twice as badly: Once for whatever he did; and the second time for “embarrassing” her by behaving in a way that made a stranger spank him in the first place!

        That happened to me at least once a week when I was growing up :-/

        • Too funny. I can be a “bull dog” when required, but I am a firm believer that kids need the scolding when the act happens. Not an hour later by a stranger and the kid was so dang cute. Hard to believe he is a little devil. I think they really wanted me to scare him, but they picked the wrong mom.

  2. interesting story….even as an adult, i wouldn’t like it if someone yelled at me like that. i’m glad your kids are old enough to understand the difference.

  3. Wow, Heidi, sounds like matthews upbringing! first get in trouble with dad, then all the relatives got in line to add their 2 cents or 2 smacks….sounds american to me!

    • Too funny. I wonder if that is the Greek heritage jumping into to the upbringing? Actually, it is more than likely the Wilson Way. It wasn’t how I grew up. Dad did the yelling, but it stopped there for me. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Oh man! Sorry, but I am just now reading this and Wow It’s sad when adults bully kids and you did the right thing Heidi. It sounds like you handled yourself perfectly, and I hope that child remembers you for your act of defiance(appropriateness). I would have hugged him too, just to spite them. “Concentrated evil” LOLLL!!

    • Hello Lucy! Welcome, so glad you found us. Thanks for the support. It is tough with these customs. We have been here 16 months now and I still couldn’t hop on board with that. Thanks for commenting!

  5. PS, found just found your blog thru Worldfamilytravel’s blog, thru The Art of Simple’s (formerly Simple Mom) Blog and I can’t.stop.reading all of you! This is so right up my alley it’s not even funny, now I just have to convince the husband 😉
    Loving the advice, the inspiration and just plain on-the-ground details of how it worked for your fam! Cheering for ya!

    • Oh I so so so know what you mean. 🙂 It is nice to connect with people having a common passion. I found a few blogs a few years ago and they got me thinking… about 6 months later I mentioned the thought of quitting our jobs and selling it all to Alan. I really just planted the seed and didn’t push it. About a month later he brought up the conversation asking more info and played devil’s advocate with a million “what if” questions. I was prepared! Plus sometimes you just need to take a risk in life. About 9 months later we were on a plane to Spain. Now 16 months in, we don’t want to go back. We are getting creative with making a little money here and there and trying to grow that. Thanks so much for reading and love that you comment. We never know who is out there reading unless they tell us. So we love to connect with others. This has been fantastic!

      Living a simple life really sets you free!

    • So very true Carlos! That is one reason we are in Spain. It is so sad what is allowed in the US. This post was in no way meaning we didn’t like Spain or say it was a big problem at all. It is to show that teaching is different, to be honest we prefer the directness in Spain. In the US, the teachers have to be so concerned about what they say about the children. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • Teaching is different? But teaching in Spain varies so much from one region to another,and between Public Schools and Private or Concertados ones,and between major cities and small towns that it’s nearly an impossible task to get an overall impression of what Spanish teaching is like.For instance,Public Education in Andalucia,one of the poorest regions of the country,has been sadly deteriorating for over thirty years.As a consequence its school dropout rate has increased tragically over that period.Over those years the Andalusian Government did nothing at all to introduce measures to prevent early school-leaving and academic failure,However Public Education in Madrid (where I am from) Navarra and Castilla y León has some of the most positive indicators of quality in education of Europe.
        In any case these differences among regions in Spain are not only based on teaching quality but especially on geographic diversity and cross-cultural sensitivity.There are so many cultural differences among them that anyone who wouldn’t have been living here for some time could really believe it.
        When you say “this would definitely NOT happen in the U.S.” and immediately after open a bra and say “School in Spain” you’re making such a big mistake,because that sad conversation you tell us you had with that lady is highly unlikely that will happen in anywhere else in Spain,but the way you entitled your post seems like all Spanish mothers usually behave like that lady,which is simply untrue.Similarly I don’t think American schools are as violent and inhuman as in Columbine,Co,so I was also wrong when I said:”that would not happen in Spain” Truth is that it would certainly not happen hardly anywhere (including the US) I lived in Argentina for five years,and when I returned to Spain a friend of mine asked me what Argentinians were like,to which I replied: “well,I really don’t know cause…I didn’t have the great pleasure of meeting all of them…” My best regards to your wonderful family and have a beautiful life in Spain.

        • Yes Carlos you made all very valid points and no one should take this as a gereralzation for the entire country, but I can see how the poor title would lead one in that direction. Just as any country or city each and ever place is unique as well as the education received. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it is appreciated.

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