Saturday, 19 November 2011

La vie des étudiants

Autonomous learning. This is something I keep looking for in French universities. Repeatedly, I am amazed by the lack of self-reliant behavior among the students. No questions are asked until a German exchange student dares to raise her hand and ask for some clarifications, no doors are opened and no rooms entered until the professor arrives. They take their notes without reflecting on what they actually need, always in full sentences. This is literally foreign to me.
It took me some time to find out that they enjoy the “privilege” of ex-cathedra teaching during their entire school career. En plus, it is regarded as redundant and extravagant use a year between your a-levels and the beginning of your studies to spend some time abroad be it with an aupair-job, work-and-travel or any other occupation.
When making such a ‘foolish decision’ nonetheless you have to justify it afterwards. Isn’t that a really strange concept? When finishing school these kids are usually only 17 years old and start university with about 18. Shouldn’t this be the age to test out your independence and gain some actual life-experience?
How does it serve them to finish their studies (their master degree) with 23 years and start working, which they will continue for at least 37 years? Why this rush? Why not take the time to find out who you are and what you expect from life? And do all of them already know what they want to study? Wouldn’t it make sense to think about it for a while and be away from your familiar surroundings?
They are obedient and awestruck in school, in university and will stay this way until their job probably over-challenges them and they have to adjust very quickly. From my experience they really lack ambition in their studies, too. Naturally, they learn for their exams, but many of them try to avoid at any cost doing any presentations or researches. Isn’t this the essence of their studies? Shouldn’t they want to analyze a novel or poem when studying literature?
Since I study to become a teacher and have known that this is what I want for my entire life, I think a lot about education and socialization. Hence, this really makes me wonder what this education and school system makes of these children and adolescents and how it prepares them for life.
Have you made similar experiences? Do you have a possible explanation? Or do you maybe disagree?

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