Did you read Clifford J. Levy’s article, My Family’s Experiment in Extreme Schooling, in the New York Times this weekend? He and his wife moved their three young American children from PS 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to an experimental school in Moscow, Russia, where the classes were taught entirely in Russian and students were publicly ranked according to test scores.
“Most foreign correspondents, like expatriates in general, place their children in international schools,” “Yet [throwing our kids into a Russian school] seemed to us like an inspiring idea. After all, children supposedly pick up language quickly. So what if mine did not speak a word of Russian and could not find Russia on a map. They were clever and resilient. They would adapt, become fluent and penetrate Russia — land of Dostoyevsky and Tchaikovsky, the Bolshoi Ballet and the Hermitage Museum — in ways all but impossible for foreigners.
But the fantasy of creating bilingual prodigies immediately collided with reality. My children — Danya (fifth grade), Arden (third grade) and Emmett (kindergarten) — were among the first foreigners to attend Novaya Gumanitarnaya Shkola, the New Humanitarian School. All instruction was in Russian. No translators, no hand-holding. And so on that morning, as on so many days that autumn of 2007, I feared that I was subjecting them to a cross-cultural experiment that would scar them forever.”
Of course, the kids were far more resilient than that. To read what actually happened, check out the rest of Levy’s fascinating and inspiring story. What kind of school would you enroll your kids in if you moved to another country?