I’m in a seminar on comparative higher education. All of the students have been divided into groups, and my group is first tackling France’s system of education. We have to prepare a presentation on the system and then critique it, so today I started some of the reading.
I admit that I have spent my entire life ignorant of and baffled by foreign education systems. So today, I had to make an outline just to understand the French system of education, with its colleges and lycees and universities and Grandes Écoles (which, OK, I’ve been calling them the Grand Eclairs in my mind). The standardization of education in France — and really, in most other countries — is really fascinating. Everyone using the same textbooks? What? I don’t know what to think of this yet, but it’s probably meaningful that my first reaction was: wow, that’s a good idea.
It’s strange to realize that something in which I should have both practical and intellectual interest is something in which I am completely ignorant. I expect to have this feeling quite a bit over the course of the term; the nice thing about taking a seminar outside of my field, though, is that this feeling is expected, and the professor is encouraging.
I’m also tackling the idea of education — American education, particularly higher education — in my composition course this term. It’s funny how far you can get these days without ever thinking about the system that’s bringing you information and granting your degree.