France is a nation focused on culture. It is in many ways the "cultural capital of the world" (Lect.Notes #7 Sp.99). France has always been an inspiration for many artists. Due to its strong culture and other moral factors, France is a country afraid of change and its education system is subject to this fear (Whitney 4). In France today, the education system is very similar to what it has been in the past. As other nations take steps to reform and improve their educational facilities France must be willing to follow or they will be left behind.
In France the education system is run by the state, it is supported by the state and is therefore basically free (Lect. Notes #4 SP.99). During a French education, emphasis is placed on the transfer of knowledge. This approach is different from the U.S. where the emphasis is placed on showing the excitement of learning and how the child can find information for him or herself (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). As in the U.S., education is separated into levels that must be passed in a sequence to go on.
There are 5 levels of education in France. The first level is called Creche. The Creche is the equivalent of daycare in the U.S. The age range for the Creche is from birth to 3 years (Lect. Notes #4 SP.99). The Creche\'s purpose is to prepare young children for the next level of education. After students complete their last year in the Creche they move on to the Maternelle. The Maternelle is the second level of education and is for children 3 to 5 years old. It is comparable to preschool in the U.S. (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). This level of education is when students are first introduced to education. After students successfully complete Maternelle they will move on the next step in their education called the Elementaire. The Elementaire lasts for 6 years so basically from the time children are 5 until they turn 11 they are in Elementaire. This level of education is similar to elementary school in the U.S. (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). This is when students form bonds with other students and begin to learn what it takes to go forward in their education. After completing Elementaire students move on to the next level called Secondaire. Secondaire consists of two stages first is College and then Lycee (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). College is the same as middle school in the U.S. and students attend for 4 years (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). This is when students begin to form their personality and start noticing the opposite sex. Students also begin to explore their options for the future. This can be a confusing but rewarding time for the students. After completing the College level of education, students move on to the Lycee. The Lycee is the equivalent of the U.S. high school except students attend the Lycee for 3 years not 4 (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). The Lycee is the time when students must decide their future educational plans. During the first year in the Lycee which is called the seconde, students are required to take mathematics, physics, biology, French, history, geography, physical education, and two foreign languages (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). During the second year or the premiere of the Lycee, students may spend no more than 2 hours on electives, and must spend no less than 25 but no more than 35 hours per week in the classroom. A typical week in a French school runs from Monday to Saturday (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). In the final year of the Lycee called the terminal, students are required to study philosophy and prepare for the bac which is the only way to move on to higher education (Lect. Notes #4 Sp.99). For a student to go onto higher education they must first pass the Baccalaureat. This is similar to the SAT or ACT test in the U.S. There are 8 types of Baccalaureat tests, labeled A-H. Baccalaureat A tests the student in Languages, Law and Psychology. The Baccalaureat B tests the students in Economics. Baccalaureat C tests the students in Mathematics and Physics; Baccalaureat D tests the students in Biology; Baccalaureat E tests the students in Engineering,