Saturday, August 27, 2005


French Connection

"When I look back on all the crap I learned in High School,
It's a wonder I can think at all
And my lack of education hasn't hurt me none,
I can read the writing on the wall."
-Simon and Garfunkle, "Kodachrome"

Education is overrated. We've got it all screwed up; kids learn things they aren't remotely interested in, and don't have the time to pursue the stuff they like. This seems to have diminished somewhat in recent years, with electives becoming more and more popular, but there are always the obligatory subjects, even if it wasn't written in black in white. Back in my school, there were subjects that were required and subjects that were "highly recommended." It was required that you take up to Algebra 2. It was "highly recommended" that you take math up to Calculus. It was required to take a science. It was "highly recommended" to take Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Unfortunately, with your schedule full of required and recommended courses, you can only really tack on one elective. Of course, this all changes quite a bit in college, but, in my humble opinion, that's 4 years too late.

In France, land of the brave and home of the free, you branch off from basic education to three (or more, depending on the school) basic schools of knowledge: Science, Social Economics, and Literature. In those branches, there are still two classes you take (French and math), but depending on the branch those can be as insignificant as your third language (You generally learn three languages in French high school. Your first is French, your second is English, your third is a more exotic language of your choice). Emphasis is placed on the subjects related to the branch you chose: science courses for S, government, economics, sociology for ES, French, History, psychology for L. This balances it out pretty well: by high school you should have some basic knowledge on what you're interested in, and the branch you take can help you refine your interest into a major.

I will never understand how the French can take any instance of American government, look at it, and make it better. As for myself, I, too, am astounded by the ton of useless crap I learned in high school, and am quite glad I can still read the writing on the wall.


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