Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trouble ahoy

...Smells like more demonstrations.
We heard the high-schoolers chanting outside uni yesterday morning. Protesting against the changes they're trying to make in highschool and their getting rid of approximatively 13000 teachers( numbers probably incorrect because they keep changing).
I don't know much about this reform. All I know is that less teachers is less help for students, which is bad. As for the changes made to high school, I've heard that instead of trimesters the year will function in semesters like at university, and the core knowledges will change, apparently history might not be compulsory or something.

France has one of the most demanding high-school systems in the world; I had between thirty and thirty-five hours of class per week throughout my three years.

It's divided in three main sections : S (science) ES (economics) and L (litterature). Next to that there are sections that deal more with management or electronics, but they're rather overlooked. You want to get anywhere in France? Get a Bac S.
Bac in Baccalauréat, the end of high school exam. Can't do anything without it, really.

So classes in your last year of high school :
In ES (this was my section, so I know it best): Economics, History, Geography, Language number 1, Language number 2, Maths, Philosophy, Sports, and an option (extra maths, extra english, or extra economics)
In S :Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Languages 1 and 2(2 not being compulsory if I remember right), Philosophy, Sports
In L: Litterature, Philosophy, History, Geography, Sports, Languages 1, 2, and often 3 (and Art could be an extra, if I remember right)

So in common we all had History, Geography, Sports, Philosophy, and Languages. Which is already pretty good.

Plus, in your first year of high school you all do the same except for one option which will determine which section you choose the next year : ISI (initiation aux sciences de l'ingénieur-for the math types, they fiddle around with machines from what I understand) Economics, or a third language.
So at the time we all had biology and physics and math and French.
In your second year you get to choose your section and things change ever so slightly; I got to give up Physics, to my greatest joy.
Everyone gets a French exam that year, those of us in the ES section also have a biology exam, and the Ls get French, biology, and math. Which is why they don't have those subjects anymore afterwards.

It's a complicated system, especially when you're not French, I remember how complicated my mother found it, but it seems to sort itself out pretty much for most of us.
Any meaningful changes to the system make us all very insecure.
The baccalauréat is a venerable institution, one we're used to and comfortable with. Every year it's the same shenanigans.
A month or two before, the news starts talking about it, about the latest revision methods, private courses, how much kids are working, how many parents are paying for private tuition. And after we get the age of the youngest bachelier(=person who obtains the Bac) of France (every year there's some kid of thirteen or fourteen who gets it when usually you get it the year you turn eighteen. I'm already an anomaly because I got it at seventeen. I always feel sorry for them), the person with the best grades, the percentage who got it, all that.

It's habit.

Every year we're told that the level has gone down. My history teacher used to tell us that we were asked harder things than he and his peers ever were, but thatour exams were graded accordingly : that is, they went easy on us.
An experiment was done a few months ago, when the same exam copies were given to something like fifteen different teachers, and the grades of each copy went from 5 to 15 out of 20.
It's kinda subjective^^
But real failures are few. In 2008 I think 83% of kids got it.

We're asked to know a lot, about a lot of things. There's a verb "bachoter" which has come to mean cramming for exams, which comes from the word Baccalauréat. Cramming for the Bac.
But that's the way things are.
Now I can appreciate being made to learn all that because it gave me a solid background knowledge. Even though I was crap at math then and I'm crap at math now.
It taught me to logic, and to argue my way through things, especially in philosophy; in essence you could write what the hell you wanted as long as it was logical.
Not saying that I was very good at it, but it does help :)

No comments: