In France, children begin school at age 3 and continue until they’re 18. We might get lots of vacation time, holidays, Wednesdays off and strikes that interfere with the normal school year schedule- But in the time the children are actually in school, they’re expected to learn ALOT.
French being one of the most complicated languages doesn’t really help matters. Between the major curriculum subjects, a school day that ends at 4 :30 pm, after-hours tutoring for kids in difficulty, and an hour of homework a night-- there’s really no time for anything else after school.
There are no school affiliated sports teams.
No band, pep club, or cheerleaders.
No theater, chorus or art besides what a teacher might feel like doing with their own class.
But that doesn’t stop the French from holding extracurricular activities in high esteem. In fact you need them in order to be a well rounded individual in these parts. Therefore Wednesday’s are devoted to whatever sport or leisure you can find and/or afford. Judo is big here, as is classical dance, and gymnastics. There’s also piano lessons or fencing.
The education system is tough. Wheras Americans are preoccupied with every child feeling special and significant, and are starting to teach according to how every individual child learns--in France you are expected to conform to the way things are done, will be done, have been done for the last five generations. (I do have to say there has been a general shift in the last couple of years, however- teachers beginning to grade differently and trying to motivate their students by pointing out how much they’re capable of instead of focusing on their failures.)
My daughter is in the first grade. She has homework every night. Not anything big- usually just reviewing what they worked on that day or drawing a picture of a sound. I don’t think I ever had homework in first grade in the states. But here, by the time you’re in high school, you have a good two hours of homework a night. There just isn’t enough time in the school day/week/year to get the students where they’re supposed to be.
University is basically free here. But in order to get in, you have to have the highest grade average and test scores. If you fail your SAT type exams-what is referred to as your baccalaureate- you don’t graduate from highschool and can not go on to college so basically the last 12 years of education goes down the drain. Talk about pressure.
I can’t help feeling like we have it pretty good in the U.S. We nurture creativity and use a little of both textbook learning and hands-on. Our colleges train you how to do a certain job in real life instead of how to memorize the text book on how to do said job.
And while the American education system might be under scrutiny lately and with all its faults- I’d totally take it over the French system and most other European systems any day! Sometimes you don't realise how good you have it 'till it's gone.
Have a great weekend everyone!