Bise me not

A friend of my sister had to interview me for her French class. Ooo-ee, I am so important. So I figured I might as well post my answers here as well.

1. What is the primary difference you found when teaching in France?
I've never taught in the US, so I can't be sure of any differences between the two systems. I think that the American system is more coddling, but the French system is less supportive of the students.

2. Where in France did you teach?
I taught in a technical/professional high school in Cusset, a small town just outside of Vichy. Vichy is about the size of Jackson, MI and is located in the political district of Auvergne, in the center of France.

3. Do you think the children were more respectful than American children?
I don't think they were any more or less respectful of me than American students would have been. I do think that the French tend to have more strict school behavior than their American counterparts and would be shocked by the way we (college students, anyway) come to class in our pyjamas and put our feet on the furniture.

4. Do you think the "Système D" or the American education system is better? It's been several years since I took this class, but I seem to remember that the Système D (se débrouiller) was a concept in French culture in general - that you need to learn the way things are done in order to get by. I may be remembering this wrong. So I don't quite see how the two can be compared.

Instead, I would look at the French and American education systems. Again, between these two, I see that the main difference is that the US has a touchy-feely nurturing kind of style, where France's system is more strict. Both have their advantages. France's system isn't tied up in self-esteem issues the wa that America's is, so I imagine they don't have the problems we have with people graduating from high school unable to read. If you don't know it, you don't pass. And if you don't pass, too bad for you. I think that America's system is sometimes too soft on students, but I also see that France's is sometimes too hard.

France's system is focused on passing the Bac, whereas we have no such test in the US. We sometimes compare it to the SAT, but they aren't the same. The Bac is the ultimate test of everything that has been learned in high school. It makes people crazy throughout high school and crushes them if they fail. The SAT is just another aptitude test and is for testing general knowledge. We couldn't have a Bac in the US because we don't have a centralized education system. We couldn't have a centralized education system because we're an enormous, complicated confederation of states rather than a unified, centralized nation. Our political reality affects our educational system which affects our culture.

I think I've gotten way off the point here, but that's because I'm tired.

5. What is your favorite moment or the thing you'll miss most?
In terms of teaching, I was unhappy for the early part of the year because I thought I wasn't being effective and I didn't know what I was doing. By the end, I learned to accept the things I could achieve and the things I couldn't and I was much happier. My favorite moments were at the end, when my students were saying goodbye and had nice things to write in the notebook I passed around.

6. What part of French culture is your favorite?
The food, the language and the music, in that order.

7. What was the most difficult thing to adjust to in France?
I've lived in France twice now, traveled several other times and taken the First-Year Seminar on cross-cultural understandings between France and the United States. I've studied and experienced so much that it's hard to remember now where I had difficulty adjusting. I suppose I've never been quite comfortable with the bise, the double cheek-kiss, just because it's not embedded in my culture. I get annoyed with bureaucracy in France and what I see as not taking professional responsibility for problems. I also find it frustrating sometimes that the French seem to always enjoy a debate, where I'd much rather everyone got along and skirted the hot issues.

srah - Wednesday, 29 October 2003 - 2:31 AM
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Comments (6)

gravatar lee - October 29, 2003 - 8:02 AM -

" I get annoyed with bureaucracy in France and what I see as not taking professional responsibility for problems."

Yes. That's so true. I feel the same. No doubt.

gravatar alfie - October 29, 2003 - 8:25 AM -

So Megan finally got ahold of you?

gravatar katie - October 29, 2003 - 10:04 AM -

I had a hard time adjusting to the different way the male/female roles and relationships are perceived. It isn't as straightforward as saying that men are pigs and women need to be treated better - because women have equal rights there the way they do here. It's just... if a woman is talking, a guy can interupt her but not the other way around. That kind of subtlety. And the woman are cool with it, so I had to adjust.

gravatar srah - October 29, 2003 - 11:05 AM -

You can tell Megan I've expanded my answers a bit if she wants to check them out here. She might be interested in the comments, too.

gravatar Arlequin - October 30, 2003 - 5:35 AM -

I must to defend the France...
"the French seem to always enjoy a debate":
Here come the "Dclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen"
"France's system is focused on passing the Bac":
True, but it's only a door before a professionnal learning, it's the better thing, too, to give a various knowledge.

If you eat french food, all the rest is nothing.

French people likes the stranger who comes to live in France.

gravatar srah - October 30, 2003 - 7:17 AM -

I'm not saying it's bad... I'm just saying it's different from my own culture and can be difficult to adjust to.

French people like foreigners in France... if they speak French. :)

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