Monday, October 11, 2010

Times on French Higher Ed


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the statement that French public universities aren't selective: a baccalauréat is not a high school diploma. A baccalauréat is a highly structured curriculum similar to the APs, in several subjects (I'd say it's like having 4-5 APs). While those who score 10 (3s) aren't the top of the crop, they're still leagues ahead kids who are simply preparing a "high school diploma". Wouldn't an American State University that only admitted students with scores of 3 or more on 4 APs be considered very selective?

Also, just last week I went to talk at one of these public universities, and I thought it looked like a project's dilapidated cousin: hideous grey concrete blocks dropped in the middle of yellow patches of grass overcome with weeds, slabs of cement here and there for benches, poor lighting, long 60s style tables, one small board affixed to the wall (no computer, videoproj, or sliding boards). It looked poor and sad. The one secretary for 4 departments sounded overwhelmed. There was only one photocopy machine and she was waiting for someone to fix it. Course descriptions hung on the walls, B/W copies that confused more than they informed (no textbook indicated, no basic syllabus, no grading policy or exam types, no pre-req..) Professors had to share an office with 4 colleagues and had no office hours I could see. There was only one computer for 5 professors in the office I waited in.
In my opinion, the problem isn't the students' qualifications (although I'm sure they could be better, more motivated, and more hard-working ;-) ). The conditions themselves generate failure. In fact the whole building seemed to scream "failure". :s
With these conditions, how do you expect students to succeed, seriously? American students would fail by the million in such conditions, even with APs.