This was an English assignment, which is why it’s not my normal way of writing on my blog. Posted as I turned it in to my teacher. No changes made at all.
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The French school system:
more to it than it seems
French schools are considered to be the best and the Baccalaureat is held in very high regard all over the U.S. and the U.K. However the students who go to these schools will tell you that it isn’t as great as it looks. The system appears to be better suited to adults than to children.
For a start, by the time these French students are sixteen, they’re spending as much as forty hours at school per week while the maximum hours an adult can work per week is thirty-five. Rest assured, they only have class for twenty-nine or thirty of those hours, but those forty hours spent at school are still five more than their Italian counterparts, eight more than their German counterparts and ten more than their Spanish counterparts.
These hours of class are divided between ten subjects, nine of which are compulsory. That’s right: these students only get to truly choose one of their ten subjects. And the choices they’re given aren’t as diverse as they’d like it to be. The choices? A fourth language, an artistic subject, SES, MPI or ISI.
They also don’t get a say in what sport they do throughout the year, at least not until they’re sixteen years old and then again the choices are very limited. And if they can even find the time for extra-curricular activities, then they struggle to do both their homework and those activities. Not to mention they also want to have fun, go shopping, see a movie or go to a party like any normal teenager would. Most students end up either not doing any activities, don’t have a social life or they give up on homework, which can take up to two hours or even more depending on the subject and time of year.
Which brings up to the question: What happens when a students fails their year? Do they go to summer school like American students do? No, most of the time they are held back, which has become much too common. In the event that they aren’t, it’s because their parents fought for them and they went on to the next year, while not having the level expected from teachers. Or they went to a “lycee pro”, a vocational school. Or they went to a school that would let them pass on to the next grade.
The average “seconde” class, 10th grade in the American system and year 11 in the British one, is made up of thirty-five students and how can they be expected to work in those conditions? The students say that they feel like cattle. How is it possible to make any progress in those conditions? And not only are they treated like cattle, but the toilets and the buildings in public schools are not in very good condition: most of the time there’s no toilet paper and no soap, some schools don’t have mirrors, and one didn’t even have glass in the window frame, which made the toilets very cold in winter. In one school a staircase crumbled, most schools don’t have air conditioning or fans and the paint peels off the walls. How are they supposed to feel motivated to work?
And it’s even worse in middle schools, where on top of poorly kept toilets, students are told they can’t wear shorts and tank tops, even if it’s thirty or thirty-five degrees Celsius. This leads students between the ages of eleven and fifteen to dislike, or even hate, school even more than the average student.
Now of course French schools aren’t all bad. The students in French schools are probably the ones with the most holidays, about sixteen weeks throughout the year, but they’re given homework, which can take up the entire two week period. Another advantage of all the compulsory classes they have to take is they have a broader general knowledge than say American students who get to choose their classes, of which they usually only have six.