Americans work mostly for the money they make, not for the enjoyment of their vocation. Colleges invest much money in evaluating student's interests and try to meet those "markets" in developing their majors and courses. We consume education for the value it gives our life for economic purposes. This is the American ideal.
But, when my husband grew up in the Netherlands, he was "tracked" in sixth grade, as to whether he was gifted to attend one of the higher level high schools in preparation for university. The philosophy behind the "tracking" method, I think, might add to our sense of reponsible citizenry, but it would limit equal opportunity, as far as individual choices. The underlying philosophy is that the society benefits from preparing each student in the necessary school that develops their gifting best. Therefore, everyone could not go to the university, when he attended. It was assumed that the work force would be the area where these would give back to society.
As his parents were really uneducated, he did not have the "environment" that most Americans believe prepare the child to develop, but this fact did not limit his possibilities. Some of his university friends are working in the Netherlands and so, he investigated the salaries and benefits, as he understands the culture. Dutch standards were definately different from Amercian standards. Not only do they get vacation pay and much more vacation time, to boot, but they also got paid much more in salary. I don't know how the culture affords it, with socialized medicine, and his neices got "social security" (I don't know if that is what they call it) at the age of 18...
Although housing is much more expensive, and certain luxuries that Americans believe are necessary "needs" are not valued in the Netherlands, the Dutch still have their coffee/tea times where they invest in "relationships". But, the culture does not see people as means to ends, as their culture values depth of relationship for relationship purposes alone.
I have a childhood friend that married an Englishman and they lived in England when they first married. She and he see the difference in the American Christian culture, versus what they had in Europe. In America, it is "nice" to be polite, but it is not in depth. The "common greeting" is "how are you?", But, it would not be considered polite to really tell someone how you are. You are supposed to say "fine". or some other "palid" response. Americans do not as a whole connect because of the value of relationship, but because it is expedient, or a work duty, or some other purpose, etc....If these relationships continue then there is hope for a real relationship.
We are at a disadvantage in our culture because we move too often, work too much and value money more than family. And the meaning to our culture has brought about destruction to the family and stress on our health, as well as setting a horrible example for the world.
I have been blessed to see some of Europe from the inside of a European family and that makes a difference in how one assesses the culture and understands certain values...
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