Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Education In France – Shoes vs. Hats

Kim Defforge
I recently read the following quote: “In France, once you have chosen a pair of shoes, you must wear them for life.” Well now, anyone who knows me is aware that I LOVE shoes, but the thought of only one pair is unimaginable. I suppose I should say “hat,” rather than shoes, since this is what the American version of this quote would be. Most of us have had a variety of jobs and have worn many hats, with some of us having made total career changes throughout our working life.

In the French school system, the stakes are high: it’s all about memorization and learning is rigid and organized around a centralized curriculum. Tracking in France happens not through classroom assignments, but rather on a school-wide level. Based on test scores, students begin to get funneled into technical or college preparatory schools by middle school.

In the French system, students are grouped together depending on their section (in high school, these sections are literature, economics and sociology, and science). Even though this system is rigid, it obliges the students to have a solid educational background for the future. The French education system is structured toward traditional teaching methods, with techniques that are designed to help students acquire the required standards and pass exams. There is a strong emphasis on math, reading, writing, science, and the French language, based on rote learning, rather than on creativity...

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