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Comparing US and European high school philosophies of education


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Disclaimer: I would actually count the UK system as being similar to the US system and would count the IB programs in the US as similar to the European systems that I know of....

 

Please correct me any Europeans...as I don't know about the systems in Austria, the Scandinavian countries, and some of the ex Eastern block countries...

 

When I say "European" system - it is still a generalization but I mean the systems that have 'school leaving' exams such as the:

 

German Abitur

Swiss maturite/matura

French baccalaureate

 

I think of the US and the UK as similar with their subject based exams - SATs, SAT II's, APs and then GCSE's and A-levels in the UK...there is no 'one' exam taken that covers all the subjects by state or by country...

 

I'm trying to understand the educational thinking behind these two different approaches. Recently a family approached me about homeschooling, wanting to take their dd out of the IB program saying that it was too much of a 'straight-jacket'....

 

Personally I think the European system discourages initiative and working at a higher level if possible in some subjects...

 

The local university says they want students to have not done 'shortened' programs of study....they don't want students graduating at a younger age...

 

And to take the Swiss Matu, you have to get special permission if you would be finishing it younger than 18 yo...

 

To me this is partly a difference in the development of individual talents and how they are accepted.....

 

And I'm wondering if this is related to the difficulty that Europeans have in starting their own businesses - they're missing that entrepreneurial spirit that is encouraged in the US. Or have I been out of country too long and am idealizing the US?

 

I'm putting some posts from the FL thread that seemed relevant in the next post...

 

Joan

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These posts are from the thread on FL - but they seemed relevant and helpful in the discussion...

 

I had another thought, which I did not want to tag on to my other reply:

 

I am finding the educational philosophy in the US to be very different from the one in Western Europe. In the US, education is very utilitarian: the acquired skill or knowledge is valued based on how useful it is, how important for employment, how it translates into a higher income. There is always the question present "how am I going to use this knowledge?" The idea of an education for education's sake, just so one can be considered a cultured, sophisticated, educated person is not prevalent. Which makes sense in front of the historical background.

In contrast, emerging from a long history of European educational traditions, it is considered a value in itself to be "educated". Foreign language studies are part of that; they are not so much driven by the sheer usefulness, but are simply considered part of a well rounded educated person (otherwise, nobody would study classical Greek in school, as it is of limited practical value and does not give any advantages with respect to employability).

I observe the same difference in university education.

 

Now, if one accepts this difference, it is clear that there is little foreign language teaching in the US: from a mere practical point of view, it is inefficient, since the rest of the world learns English anyway. In order to teach foreign languages, the people would have to value language learning for learning's sake and would have to consider the study of another culture worthwhile without immediate economic gain.

 

I think this is also an area where it is hard to talk about American education as

Monolith. We don't have different types of schools based in abilities and goals. Many aren't even that comfortable with tracking within a building or classroom.

 

There are areas where education is prized because that is what people of value do. We live in such and area. The kids learning languages may well spend time abroad using them. But that is a subset of students within a well funded well organized district. There are certainly students who dwell in the realm of "will this be on the test?"

 

Where I grew up, foreign language was indeed presented as part of a well-rounded education. Those who were oriented towards college were expected to start in 7th grade with grammar-based instruction. I remember even at that level struggling through conjugations of verbs, doing long translations, and being graded on pronounciation including memorizing poems, giving speeches, etc. The 7th-8th grade levels were equivalent to the high school 9th grade level, so you could potentially graduate with five years of high school study. They strongly encouraged at least three years. And national tests, regional competitions, and AP exams were the norm.

 

In contrast, here it is presented as an "elective" and from all that I've heard is more "fun language." A lot of it is cultural knowledge, and the grammar is minimal. Exams are often open book, and one Spanish teacher told me that "oral practice didn't matter as long as you can communicate." The classes don't take any of the national exams, and AP-level instruction is infreqent. The Latin teacher told me that she hasn't offered AP Latin in five years. Obviously not a priority.

 

Where I grew up, foreign language was indeed presented as part of a well-rounded education. Those who were oriented towards college were expected to start in 7th grade with grammar-based instruction. I remember even at that level struggling through conjugations of verbs, doing long translations, and being graded on pronounciation including memorizing poems, giving speeches, etc. The 7th-8th grade levels were equivalent to the high school 9th grade level, so you could potentially graduate with five years of high school study. They strongly encouraged at least three years. And national tests, regional competitions, and AP exams were the norm.

 

In contrast, here it is presented as an "elective" and from all that I've heard is more "fun language." A lot of it is cultural knowledge, and the grammar is minimal. Exams are often open book, and one Spanish teacher told me that "oral practice didn't matter as long as you can communicate." The classes don't take any of the national exams, and AP-level instruction is infreqent. The Latin teacher told me that she hasn't offered AP Latin in five years. Obviously not a priority.

 

There are excellent universities in the US, and then there are mediocre ones, and then there are substandard ones. the top ones are outstanding; the worst ones would not deserve the title of a university in Europe.

 

The main strength I see about the US university system, especially compared to the German one: universities select their own students.

This means that elite universities can evolve which select only the highest performing students. Having high performing students in turn allows the university to attract the best faculty, which makes the university further attractive to capable students. For faculty attraction, the quality of the graduate students is crucial. (I work at a state university which attracts many bright undergraduates because it is less expensive for them to come here; the quality of the grad students, however, is a problem, and this would be the number one motivation for the best professors to leave and go elsewhere.) Once you have great faculty, they will get grants, money and reputation, and so on.

But I firmly believe that it starts with student selection: you cannot have outstanding universities if you do not apply strict admission standards.

Equally capable professors at universities with less capable or less prepared students will be able to teach them less, will have less capable graduate students to assist with reserach (to the point that it is a time loss for the prof to even have grad students), and will thus produce fewer high profile publications, which attracts less funding, which means he has less quality research equipment.... you get the idea.

 

One feature about the US college landscape that I like is the diversity: there will be a school for every level of student - starting from community college, over lower state schools, flagship public and private universities to Ivies.

In contrast, in Germany passing the Abitur, even with a low GPA, guarantees a student entry into any university of his choice - with few exceptions for selected high demand majors where they have to apply for admission through a centralized system (medicine for example). This means that universities can not really develop a profile and a differentiation, because they are required by law to admit anybody who passed the exam. They are not even allowed to limit enrollment if their capacity is exceeded. A very bad system.

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I don't think that I would quite characterise the systems in that way. I did O-levels and A-levels; Calvin has done GCSEs and is doing the IB; I have some understanding of the US system.

 

Under the English system (the Scottish one is different again) you potentially end up with a very specialised education. It is entirely possible, and in fact would be desirable if you want to go to an elite university, to do a wide range of GCSEs from age 14-16, then do only subjects related to your intended university course of study for the next two years. It would not be at all unusual to do, as I did, English, French and History at A-level, with a bit of playing around in an ab initio language and general studies on the side. A STEM candidate might well do Physics, Chemistry and Maths at A level, with biology and general studies at AS level. There is no tradition of a general education in the last two years of school.

 

By contrast, the IB enforces the sort of general education that (I believe) US high school promotes. You do six subjects: your native language, a foreign language, maths, a science, a humanities subject and a sixth subject of your choice. Of the six, you normally do three at higher level (similar to honours or AP level) and the rest at standard level. So it's a straight-jacket in that you have to do all those subjects, but that makes it more like the US system (I would have thought) than like the specialised English system.

 

Laura

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I don't think that I would quite characterise the systems in that way. I did O-levels and A-levels; Calvin has done GCSEs and is doing the IB; I have some understanding of the US system.

 

Under the English system (the Scottish one is different again) you potentially end up with a very specialised education. It is entirely possible, and in fact would be desirable if you want to go to an elite university, to do a wide range of GCSEs from age 14-16, then do only subjects related to your intended university course of study for the next two years. It would not be at all unusual to do, as I did, English, French and History at A-level, with a bit of playing around in an ab initio language and general studies on the side. A STEM candidate might well do Physics, Chemistry and Maths at A level, with biology and general studies at AS level. There is no tradition of a general education in the last two years of school.

 

By contrast, the IB enforces the sort of general education that (I believe) US high school promotes. You do six subjects: your native language, a foreign language, maths, a science, a humanities subject and a sixth subject of your choice. Of the six, you normally do three at higher level (similar to honours or AP level) and the rest at standard level. So it's a straight-jacket in that you have to do all those subjects, but that makes it more like the US system (I would have thought) than like the specialised English system.

 

Laura

 

Funny. It is true that the IB has only 6 subjects the last years (besides TOK)...which made me think of the UK system in a way perhaps because of the 3 higher levels...and it is the CAS hours that make me think of the US system with the emphasis on out of school experience....

 

But I still group the IB with general European exit exams because it is a 'formula' approach. Whereas in the UK you can leave with only two A levels can't you? or you can do more - it seems like I've read of some people doing 5...Whereas I just don't see that flexibility in the Swiss Matu...You do science branch and then a higher level language and then a higher level of something else but I don't think the level is that of AP's or A-levels...And you certainly couldn't do 5 areas at a higher level...

 

I realize that they are not an exact comparison - but for general grouping purposes - it seems like there is a similar philosophy....

 

Joan

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Personally I think the European system discourages initiative and working at a higher level if possible in some subjects...

The local university says they want students to have not done 'shortened' programs of study....they don't want students graduating at a younger age...

...

 

 

In Germany, it is possible for students to skip grades and graduate with the Abitur at a younger age.

In the last two years, students select subjects in which they want to do advanced work, and subjects for regular work (the number of subjects they must choose for advanced is mandated; they must be from different areas of study - one science, one language. Don't have the specifics now.)

 

ETA: I find that students are working much more independently in Germany - whereas in the US, even college is like school: handholding with weekly assignments, graded homework, quizzes to "motivate" the student to read the textbook. A German high school student will have to do more independent work in school, will have had to give oral presentations since 4th grade, and is generally better prepared for independent work at the university. At a German university, nobody grades weekly homework or gives attendance quizzes; students are expected to work with textbooks (which they have learned in high school) and do what they need to succeed. They are much more responsible for their own education than their US counterparts. I simply could not expect from my US college students what had been expected of me at my German university. Since I do not believe that German students are inherently more intelligent, this simply must reflect their high school preparation.

 

And I'm wondering if this is related to the difficulty that Europeans have in starting their own businesses - they're missing that entrepreneurial spirit that is encouraged in the US. Or have I been out of country too long and am idealizing the US?
I do not see what the educational system has to do with starting businesses. One main reason for the differences is regulation; it is much more difficult to start a business in Germany because everything is more regulated - financially, but also from the point of view of worker safety, energy use, and environmental safety. Plus, the social system gives workers more rights: it is much harder to fire an unsatisfactory employee, women are entitled to several weeks of maternity leave and a full year of unpaid family leave after the birth of a child, after which they must be given their job back. This creates additional barriers for small businesses which have absolutely nothing to do with education. Edited by regentrude
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the 12th grade exam can be taken at any age.

 

loesje - thanks for all the other info too. Just wanted to comment on this part..

 

In Germany, it is possible for students to skip grades and graduate with the Abitur at a younger age.

In the last two years, students select subjects in which they want to do advanced work, and subjects for regular work (the number of subjects they must choose for advances is mandated; they must be from different areas of study - one science, one language. Don't have the specifics now.)

 

loesje and regentrude - For those exams - don't they have to be done in a certain time frame? I think I've heard that for the Abitur you have to do all the subjects in the last two years....So it is not like AP's where you can start in 9th grade or even lower if you are gifted and hard-working...

 

I do not see what the educational system has to do with starting businesses. One main reason for the differences is regulation; it is much more difficult to start a business in Germany because everything is more regulated - financially, but also from the point of view of worker safety, energy use, and environmental safety. Plus, the social system gives workers more rights: it is much harder to fire an unsatisfactory employee, women are entitled to several weeks of maternity leave and a full year of unpaid family leave after the birth of a child, after which they must be given their job back. This creates additional barriers for small businesses which have absolutely nothing to do with education.

 

Ok - agreed that regulations make a difference. But I also think that the mentality that one is rewarded for working harder in a subject is different. Though it might be different in DE compared to CH as it seems like you have more schools for gifted children than they have here....

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But I still group the IB with general European exit exams because it is a 'formula' approach. Whereas in the UK you can leave with only two A levels can't you? or you can do more - it seems like I've read of some people doing 5...

 

So you could just do two or three certificates if you wanted to; some people do this every year at Calvin's school. It wouldn't get you into the best universities here, but it would get you into some kind of course. In the same way, yes, you could take fewer than three A levels, but at least three A levels are necessary to get into the best universities.

 

Honestly, I like the IB because I think it takes the best parts of the US system (the breadth of study) and combines it with the best parts of the UK system (the expectation of studying three subjects to a high level).

 

FWIW, there are three levels of maths in the IB. The highest level of maths is harder than maths A level, according to the maths teachers at Calvin's school. Some students who need a good maths qualification but are not capable of IB higher level maths take A level maths in addition to standard level maths in the IB. They end up with the IB plus a maths A level. So there is flexibility there. Similarly, Calvin is studying for Chinese national Mandarin exams (HSK) alongside the IB. These extra studies can 'count' towards university entrance.

 

Laura

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loesje and regentrude - For those exams - don't they have to be done in a certain time frame? I think I've heard that for the Abitur you have to do all the subjects in the last two years....So it is not like AP's where you can start in 9th grade or even lower if you are gifted and hard-working...

 

In German schools, all subjects are taken simultaneously and continuously throughout the entire school career (you can drop a few select subjects in the last two years). The approach is completely different from the US way of doing one subject for one year and then never touching it again. So, it is not comparable to piecing together AP tests by studying subjects in isolated portions of one year and "collecting" AP credit. The strength of the Abitur is that is tests all disciplines at the same moment - you can not "finish" one subject, you have to possess the Abitur level knowledge in all subjects concurrently. This is an entirely different approach to education.

 

(Slightly OT: it was also the way our university education was structured: we had comprehensive exams after five semesters of math, after three years of theoretical physics and after three years of experimental physics, and you were supposed to know it all . )

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(Slightly OT: it was also the way our university education was structured: we had comprehensive exams after five semesters of math, after three years of theoretical physics and after three years of experimental physics, and you were supposed to know it all . )

 

The only marks that counted towards my degree were the exams that I took in the very last term of the very last year. At that point, I needed to have digested and retained three or four years of material and be able to argue it on paper.

 

Laura

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I do not see what the educational system has to do with starting businesses. One main reason for the differences is regulation; it is much more difficult to start a business in Germany because everything is more regulated - financially, but also from the point of view of worker safety, energy use, and environmental safety.

 

I was under the impression that one had to have a Meisterbrief to open a business. That you couldn't just decide to start selling wedding cakes or open a cafe without it. Was I misled?

 

Doesn't the Meisterbrief, and whole apprenticeship system, inhibit entrepreneurship?

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I was under the impression that one had to have a Meisterbrief to open a business. That you couldn't just decide to start selling wedding cakes or open a cafe without it. Was I misled?

 

Doesn't the Meisterbrief, and whole apprenticeship system, inhibit entrepreneurship?

 

No, that is correct. You have to be a Meister for certain trades (baker, butcher, tailor...)

You can, however, start a business in other fields that do not have the traditional apprentice-Meister model and have not historically been regulated by guilds. I believe anything related to technological innovation would not be affected. You can start a computer business in your garage without being a Meister ;-)

 

As to whether the Meister system inhibits entrepreneurship, I am not sure. This is not a government regulation, but rather a self-regulation of the people working in the trade; it was historically designed to maintain quality standards and regulate the level of competition. A benefit of the system is the training of apprentices, thus ensuring a qualified workforce. I have not thought about this issue enough to have a clear opinion.

Edited by regentrude
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In German schools, all subjects are taken simultaneously and continuously throughout the entire school career (you can drop a few select subjects in the last two years). The approach is completely different from the US way of doing one subject for one year and then never touching it again. So, it is not comparable to piecing together AP tests by studying subjects in isolated portions of one year and "collecting" AP credit.

 

(Slightly OT: it was also the way our university education was structured: we had comprehensive exams after five semesters of math, after three years of theoretical physics and after three years of experimental physics, and you were supposed to know it all . )

 

This was exactly my experiene in the Eastern bloc country (USSR). You had 5 years of physics, 4 years of chemistry, 5 years of bio (botany, zoology, anatomy, general bio), 9 years of foreign language.... all simultaneously and continuously. You had to pass exams to apply to a university for subjects relevant to the major (this now I believe is different. In addition to 8 subject tests at the end of high school, you take something simular to SAT). If you were applying to medical school, you would have to take enrance exam in native language writing, chemistry, math, biology, physics and those exams were comprehensive, including language writing which was 4 years worth of literature.

Our system wasn't very flexible at all. I am sure if you were profoundly gifted, you could probably skip grades, but I do not know anybody profoundly gifted (example - kids that do calculus at 9). If you were just very bright and could do more, there wasn't an opportunity to take university level courses while in high school. While on one had it seems limiting, in practice it worked out fine most of the time. My father was able to self-teach 3 foreign languages because he had some free time. I practiced piano for 4-5 hours a day, some of my friends (all super talented scientists now) spent hours reading science texts and building all sorts of incomprehensible to me objects in their rooms. What I am trying to say is high school was very rigorous, but it was high school level courses. If you were bright and beyond that material, it afforded you free time to read books and persue passions and most gifted people did just that.

I think the biggest difference here in the U.S. is that I see two extremes. On one hand we have high schools that apparently don't even offer some science classes and on the other extreme we have private college prep schools where kids are expected to cover 2 years worth of college material to prove they are worthy of attending college.

I think freedom in American schools is a good thing, but I don't think it should extend to things like science and math.

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Whereas in the UK you can leave with only two A levels can't you? or you can do more - it seems like I've read of some people doing 5...

 

I did my Cambridge GCE 'A' levels in Asia so it might run slightly different than in UK.

 

Two A levels would get you a high school leaving certificate but not admission to the local universities.

 

Three A levels and two AO levels would meet the basic requirement for local universities

 

Four A levels and two AO levels would meet overseas universities requirements as well

 

People take two to three AS level papers to apply for scholarships.

 

So I had classmates who took four A level, three AS level and two AO papers.

 

Our AO papers are General Paper (in English) and second language (which can be chinese, hindi, malay, french, german, japanese....)

 

We take the Cambridge O Levels at the end of grade 10. Grade 1 to 6 is primary, grade 7 to 10 is secondary and grade 11 to 12 is junior college.

 

We specialise at grade 9 and further specialise at grade 11.

 

Biology, Chemistry and Physics are done every year from grade 9 to 12. Math is intergrated.

 

ETA:

We also have a vocational/trade school track starting at grade 7 and a less textbook style academic track starting at grade 11.

Edited by Arcadia
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Surely this must vary according to university and with the times, even perhaps with different disciplines. In the University of California system, it used to be very unusual to have anything graded other than a midterm and a final. Homework or weekly assignments tended to be confined to math and science classes, and whether they were completed or not was entirely at the student's discretion. Answers would be posted after a couple of days, and the point was to rework problems yourself. Nothing was turned in or graded but midterms and finals.

 

I wish!

I wish I did not have to deal with homeworks and quizzes... alas, we are actively "encouraged" to give students "incentives" for doing homework and for attending class, i.e. give points for things students should do simply because they want to learn.

So, I am grading homework assignments for 110 students, each of which submits between 6 and 8 problems each week. (I could have a TA, but teh quality of the grading would not be up to my standards). Sometimes I grade only one problem of the set. Sometimes I have them rework one in class which uses class time. Other colleagues have students rework homework on the board in recitation in front of the class; students get picked at random. Others use online grading systems. But if we do not hold them accountable in some way, most students won't do the homework. These are introductory physics classes which are required classes for large numbers of students; the situation is different in upper level elective classes.

 

 

There are also a number of colleges in the US where students construct their own majors, help design their own classes, and/or which focus for a year or even two on independent projects evaluated only at the end, with a paper and oral exams. .

 

I can see this working for upper level courses, but I have not heard from any university who can pull this off for introductory science classes.

Oral final exams seem to be very rare in the US (partly because of legal issues; schools are afraid that students may claim bias and sue).

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I wish!

I wish I did not have to deal with homeworks and quizzes... alas, we are actively "encouraged" to give students "incentives" for doing homework and for attending class, i.e. give points for things students should do simply because they want to learn.

So, I am grading homework assignments for 110 students, each of which submits between 6 and 8 problems each week. (I could have a TA, but teh quality of the grading would not be up to my standards). Sometimes I grade only one problem of the set. Sometimes I have them rework one in class which uses class time. Other colleagues have students rework homework on the board in recitation in front of the class; students get picked at random. Others use online grading systems. But if we do not hold them accountable in some way, most students won't do the homework. These are introductory physics classes which are required classes for large numbers of students; the situation is different in upper level elective classes.

 

The question I have to ask is, why not just let them fail if they can't do the work? I think in the past that is what was done, even here in the US. My DH (an EE), talks about specific classes that were considered weed-out classes. He graduated in 1982 or 1983. I have a feeling it is no long considered acceptable to let significant numbers of students fail -- that a certain number of students must pass the class or the professor is sanctioned? Do student evaluations play into this?

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I wish!

 

Oral final exams seem to be very rare in the US (partly because of legal issues; schools are afraid that students may claim bias and sue).

 

I've never heard this, about bias, but oral exams are indeed unusual at the undergraduate level. I have always assumed that it is because they're so much work to administer to hordes of undergraduates, because comprehensive oral exams are very common in graduate school.

 

The undergraduate college I attended had the option (which I took) of taking a series of double-credit seminars over the last two years, none of which were graded until the very end of senior year, when all students who went this route took a series of written and oral exams that were administered by "external evaluators" -- i.e., faculty from other universities. Now, as a university teacher myself, I shudder to think about the amount of work that went into the whole system, but it was fabulous preparation for grad school. AFAIK the school still offers this option, actually, although now professors do give some sort of individual grade for each seminar as well.

Edited by JennyD
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I've never heard this, about bias, but oral exams are indeed unusual at the undergraduate level. I have always assumed that it is because they're so much work to administer to hordes of undergraduates, because comprehensive oral exams are very common in graduate school.

 

The college I attended had the option (which I took) of taking a series of double-credit seminars over the last two years, none of which were graded until the very end of senior year, when all students who went this route took a series of written and oral exams that were administered by "external evaluators" -- i.e., faculty from other universities. Now, as a university teacher myself, I shudder to think about the amount of work that went into the whole system, but it was fabulous preparation for grad school. AFAIK the school still offers this option, actually, although now professors do give some sort of individual grade for each seminar as well.

 

Yes, I had comprehensive oral exams in grad school.

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The question I have to ask is, why not just let them fail if they can't do the work? I think in the past that is what was done, even here in the US. My DH (an EE), talks about specific classes that were considered weed-out classes. He graduated in 1982 or 1983. I have a feeling it is no long considered acceptable to let significant numbers of students fail -- that a certain number of students must pass the class or the professor is sanctioned? Do student evaluations play into this?

 

I graduated from a small liberal arts college in 1999 with a biology degree. First semester freshman biology was a weed-out class--iirc, about 1/3 of the class dropped after the first exam, with another significant number dropping after the next. Cell and molecular biology, normally taken first semester sophomore year, was another weed-out. One of my classmates who dropped told me about visiting the prof. during office hours to find a stack of pre-signed drop slips for all of the students who had failed the first exam.

 

I only encountered required weekly assignments in math classes. Other classes required that assignments be done in order to participate in discussions, but the consequence for slacking was embarrassment, rather than a lowered grade.

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I saw that those links requested signing up...so here is a little piece of the article about them looking for American and Asian entrepreneurs...

 

ETA - you can get more by searching "le temps ch" and entrepreneurs etc.

 

Europe cherche entrepreneurs américains et asiatiques

 

Richard Werly

La zone euro n’a pas seulement besoin de fonds souverains pour acquérir les infrastructures privatisées en Grèce ou en Espagne. Plusieurs études publiées ces derniers mois démontrent combien les principaux pays dotés de la monnaie unique sont devenus peu attrayants pour les entrepreneurs et les créateurs de richesses. Le retour de la croissance, d’Athènes à Paris, passe aussi par là. Sur le modèle des Etats-Unis ou des pays émergents d’Asie...

 

snip

 

La question, peu évoquée dans l’article de The Economist ou dans l’étude du think tank basé à Singapour, est en effet celle des mentalités et de la culture entrepreneuriale européenne. Or là, un champ d’étude passionnant devrait s’ouvrir et être empoigné. L’intégration politique et monétaire a-t-elle conduit à un affaiblissement de cette culture de la création d’entreprise et de l’initiative, au profit d’une logique communautaire du «risque zéro». En clair: l’afflux d’argent bon marché depuis la création de la monnaie unique et le déferlement de crédit mis à la disposition du public par les banques ont-ils favorisé la spéculation plus que l’innovation?

Edited by Joan in Geneva
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The second article - part of it..

This says that they have the capital to invest here - but there are few entrepreneurs.

 

(Use Google translate) ETA - this comes from le temps in Switzerland

«Il y a de l’innovation en Suisse, mais peu d’entrepreneurs prêts à conquérir le monde»

 

Ghislaine Bloch

– Ne pensez-vous pas rater certaines opportunités d’investissement en Suisse?

– Nous essayons de ne rater aucun projet d’envergure en Suisse. Le cas échéant, je considérerai cela comme un grand échec. Il y a beaucoup d’innovations émanant des campus universitaires mais peu d’entrepreneurs ayant la volonté de conquérir le monde. Nous recherchons idéalement des start-up capables d’enregistrer un chiffre d’affaires de 100 millions de dollars dans les trois à sept ans. Une difficulté importante en Suisse est qu’il est quasiment impossible de recruter rapidement du personnel lorsqu’une start-up connaît un fort développement.

Edited by Joan in Geneva
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The first few posts...

 

So you could just do two or three certificates if you wanted to; some people do this every year at Calvin's school.

snip

Honestly, I like the IB because I think it takes the best parts of the US system (the breadth of study) and combines it with the best parts of the UK system (the expectation of studying three subjects to a high level).

 

To me the certificates are more like the US system...you just do what you want...

 

I don't see the breadth of study in the IB - those last two years there aren't that many subjects...I see depth with three subjects and that's it...

 

In German schools, all subjects are taken simultaneously and continuously throughout the entire school career (you can drop a few select subjects in the last two years). The approach is completely different from the US way of doing one subject for one year and then never touching it again. So, it is not comparable to piecing together AP tests by studying subjects in isolated portions of one year and "collecting" AP credit. The strength of the Abitur is that is tests all disciplines at the same moment - you can not "finish" one subject, you have to possess the Abitur level knowledge in all subjects concurrently. This is an entirely different approach to education.

 

(Slightly OT: it was also the way our university education was structured: we had comprehensive exams after five semesters of math, after three years of theoretical physics and after three years of experimental physics, and you were supposed to know it all . )

 

This is why I want to discuss these things...

 

They both have their positives and negatives but I'm thinking that overall the US system encourages 'initiative'....

 

Because the Abitur insists that you pass all those exams at once - forget about taking a few college (ie University) courses while in high school. They won't let you in the door without that piece of paper (Matu, Abitur, Bacc).

 

 

No, that is correct. You have to be a Meister for certain trades (baker, butcher, tailor...)

You can, however, start a business in other fields that do not have the traditional apprentice-Meister model and have not historically been regulated by guilds. I believe anything related to technological innovation would not be affected. You can start a computer business in your garage without being a Meister ;-)

 

As to whether the Meister system inhibits entrepreneurship, I am not sure. This is not a government regulation, but rather a self-regulation of the people working in the trade; it was historically designed to maintain quality standards and regulate the level of competition. A benefit of the system is the training of apprentices, thus ensuring a qualified workforce. I have not thought about this issue enough to have a clear opinion.

 

This is what I call the "guild" mentality that is a major stumbling block for homeschoolers in Europe. People think that parents can't teach their children...

 

BUT on the other hand - I do see a level of proficiency in society.

 

YET it doesn't allow for other ways of gaining experience and expertise...which hinders - in my mind - people who have other ways of learning...

 

Our system wasn't very flexible at all. I am sure if you were profoundly gifted, you could probably skip grades, but I do not know anybody profoundly gifted (example - kids that do calculus at 9). If you were just very bright and could do more, there wasn't an opportunity to take university level courses while in high school. While on one had it seems limiting, in practice it worked out fine most of the time. My father was able to self-teach 3 foreign languages because he had some free time. I practiced piano for 4-5 hours a day, some of my friends (all super talented scientists now) spent hours reading science texts and building all sorts of incomprehensible to me objects in their rooms. What I am trying to say is high school was very rigorous, but it was high school level courses. If you were bright and beyond that material, it afforded you free time to read books and persue passions and most gifted people did just that.

I think the biggest difference here in the U.S. is that I see two extremes. On one hand we have high schools that apparently don't even offer some science classes and on the other extreme we have private college prep schools where kids are expected to cover 2 years worth of college material to prove they are worthy of attending college.

I think freedom in American schools is a good thing, but I don't think it should extend to things like science and math.

 

Now it's interesting that you say that you didn't know anyone profoundly gifted...here at least, because they aren't 'looked for'...they aren't identified and encouraged....So was it the system that didn't let them develop? (statistically speaking, I would think there would have been some gifted children along the way).

 

But it's also interesting what you are saying about the kids developing privately.....I wonder if this is still the case with all the modern electronic distractions?

 

Agreed that the schools with the least options in the US seem to have too low of a standard...the disparity is too great...

 

Joan

Edited by Joan in Geneva
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for the other posts not answered in the post above...

 

Belgium has 'schoolleaving' exams at grade 6 and grade 12.

- In the Netherlands you have only a 12th grade exam with almost the same set of rules as in Belgium. Both countries consider 12-16 subjects as 'normal' for the university bound track. The 6th grade exams in Belgium count less subjects.

 

loesje - I forgot to ask you the names of the exams for Belgium and the Netherlands....could you tell me please?

 

I was under the impression that one had to have a Meisterbrief to open a business. That you couldn't just decide to start selling wedding cakes or open a cafe without it. Was I misled?

 

Doesn't the Meisterbrief, and whole apprenticeship system, inhibit entrepreneurship?

 

Presuming that this is something like the system in CH....this makes people very suspicious if you try to do anything on your own without the proper diploma....

 

I did my Cambridge GCE 'A' levels in Asia so it might run slightly different than in UK.

 

Thanks for sharing all those possibilities!

 

Surely this must vary according to university and with the times, even perhaps with different disciplines.

 

snip

A good friend (who supervised my dissertation there) says that in recent years she's noticed students becoming more reluctant to speak out in class, for a number of reasons, so she has instituted more ways of fostering interchanges, including class blogs which different students lead off or moderate each week. I know she was been thrilled with the response, but I don't know whether she is grading each contribution. I suspect not -- she's a popular literature lecturer whose classes tend to run quite large. Grading over a hundred entries each week along with supervising grad students, committee work, and research probably is not feasible.

 

My dd's current community college class also has a running blog with weekly posts required. The difference is that at this introductory level, the contributions are graded. The students also have presentations to make on topics of their choice.

 

I do agree that many high schools control and evaluate students much more intensively than used to be the case in the Dark Ages when I went to school. I was horrified to learn that at the private school dd attended briefly, discussions were actually graded! I suppose that depending on your point of view and your habits as a student, this can either be a good thing, forcing kids to be prepared, or a bad one, squashing all spontaneity and making kids averse to taking any kinds of risks with what questions they ask or comments they make.

 

One thing I realize in reading this is that AP courses definitely have graded weekly assignments/quizzes/etc....so in that sense they are not like university level courses with minimal hand-holding...

 

I wish I did not have to deal with homeworks and quizzes... alas, we are actively "encouraged" to give students "incentives" for doing homework and for attending class, i.e. give points for things students should do simply because they want to learn.

 

But this can't be the case in all universities across the US...

 

I only encountered required weekly assignments in math classes. Other classes required that assignments be done in order to participate in discussions, but the consequence for slacking was embarrassment, rather than a lowered grade.

 

I also think graded weekly assignments would be highly dependent on the course...I didn't have this in my university courses either...

 

The down side of waiting several years to take exams is - what if you fail??? You've gotten no feedback to know if you are on the right track or not all those years...possibly wasting several years of your life, not just a semester...or do they have a way of preventing that?

 

Joan

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For Belgium/the Netherlands you can do the exams in one year (cheaper) or in 6 years (more expensive). If you do exams as homeschool student you have to pay for your exams, in a brick and mortal school they are free.

But both countries love to reform the school systems regularly, so you can't do exams of 2 school reformations ago, in that way there is a time limit: get your diploma before they change the rules again ;).

In the Netherlands you can do exams once a year (May/June), in Flanders you can do exams anytime when they are available (several times a year).

You can do 12th grade exams in Flanders, when you are 10, If you would like that...

 

I guess all the changes are keeping you on your toes - but it sounds stressful.

 

They certainly do sound more flexible than here. So are younger students permitted to attend university?

 

And this leads to another discussion point....that regentrude brought up in the other thread....

 

Admissions for all vs select admissions...

 

Here in CH, if you have the 'maturite-matura' you can get into any Swiss university.

 

In France, I think there is a selection process but don't know much...

 

In Germany, regentrude says there is not a selection process...

 

In the Netherlands, I think there is a lottery system? any other criteria?

 

In Belgium?

 

In the UK, I think there is a selection process in the better schools but don't know about the less well-known ones...

 

Others?

 

Joan

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In France, I think there is a selection process but don't know much...

 

When I taught at Paris III University, I was told that anyone who passed the Bac could go to the university. The classes were horribly oversubscribed at the beginning of the year - only those with a lot of dedication stuck with it.

.....

In the UK, I think there is a selection process in the better schools but don't know about the less well-known ones...

 

There's a selection process for all universities. You have to apply through the common application process (called UCAS). All the universities publish their normal exam requirements (for example, three As at A level for Oxford) and pupils choose five universities that fall within the range of their expected results. Oxford and Cambridge then interview likely candidates; other universities give offers based on existing GCSE results and predicted A level results. Once you have received your offers, you 'hold onto' two, one with high requirements and one with low. When the results come out, you go to the university the requirements for which you meet. If you don't meet either, you call round universities to see if there are any spaces left, or you retake exams and reapply the next year.

 

 

Laura

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I do not see what the educational system has to do with starting businesses. One main reason for the differences is regulation; it is much more difficult to start a business in Germany because everything is more regulated - financially, but also from the point of view of worker safety, energy use, and environmental safety. Plus, the social system gives workers more rights: it is much harder to fire an unsatisfactory employee, women are entitled to several weeks of maternity leave and a full year of unpaid family leave after the birth of a child, after which they must be given their job back. This creates additional barriers for small businesses which have absolutely nothing to do with education.

 

 

I agree with most of this for Austria. However, I do have to say that this ultimately has become a cultural choice as well. People hardly even talk about starting a business at all. It is never even thought of as an option. And, yes, this is because of regulation but has become the cultural norm.

 

As an aside, the US is heading that way. The regulations are getting pretty darn tough to do business here as well. I do realize that some states are better to work in than others. But overall we are creating the same sentiment here.

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To me the certificates are more like the US system...you just do what you want...

 

I don't see the breadth of study in the IB - those last two years there aren't that many subjects...I see depth with three subjects and that's it...

 

 

 

The IB is indeed only the last two years of school; the UK system reaches (roughly) SAT subject test level at 16, allowing for specialisation thereafter. From age 14 to 16 Calvin studied two sciences (would have been three, but he'd already knocked off one when he was home educating), two foreign languages, English language and literature, maths, geography and history. So, over the course of the four years that are equivalent to US high school he will have studied:

 

Basic level (GCSE) (2 years)

Geography

Physics

Chemistry

 

Intermediate level (IB standard level)(4 years)

Maths

Biology

French

 

Advanced level (IB Higher level)(4 years)

Latin

History

French

 

... plus some non-examined subjects including PE, RE, Personal and Social Education...

 

From my point of view (having just studied three subjects for A level) the IB seems broad - perhaps from a US viewpoint it seems narrow. But, as I say, there's some staging going on.

 

Laura

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They both have their positives and negatives but I'm thinking that overall the US system encourages 'initiative'....

 

Because the Abitur insists that you pass all those exams at once - forget about taking a few college (ie University) courses while in high school. They won't let you in the door without that piece of paper (Matu, Abitur, Bacc).

 

Honestly, the only people I've ever known in the US who take university courses while still in high school are either homeschoolers, or ones who go to small and/or not great high schools without high level courses, so if they want to take Calculus they have to take it at the local community college.

 

Only open-enrollment colleges which require no admissions criteria allow high school students without a high school diploma (or GED) to enroll in classes. Usually these colleges also have a degree track, with an admissions process of its own... but that's not the track that the high school students are taking (and sometimes the classes cost a different amount if you're enrolled in a degree-granting program v. if you're just taking it for general credit, or for no credit at all). Top private US universities don't allow high school students to enroll in classes, although some might make an exception for a truly exceptional student/situation.

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I did the IB in high school, at an American school in Austria. A brother did the IB in Sweden, and an a sister did the French Baccalaureate. Another sister graduated from a non-IB school in Sweden, the rest of my siblings graduated from American style high school programs. Of all these programs the non-IB school in Sweden was the least academically rigorous--don't know if that is a general trend or just that particular school. Those who graduated from schools that offered IB and chose not to go that route did so because they did not like the lack of flexibility in the IB program. By going the American-style diploma route, they could take IB classes where they wanted them but weren't locked into the entire system--they could more easily customize their education. The full IB program is very time intensive and leaves little time for either other academic studies or for extracurriculars.

Honestly, I like the American system overall for its flexibility--with the caveat that academic excellence should be encouraged and schools should offer high level classes for those that want them. I really like the US high school to university system because it does not lock students into a particular specialization early on as most European systems do (in fact, it is high school that often locks in the specialization as a student who does not to the higher level science track for A levels, IB, Baccaulareate, etc. would not be able to get into a science program for university). At the same time, some of the European systems allow a student to finish their university studies with a specialized degree in fewer years than the American system, because specialization did start earlier. There are going to be pros and cons to any system. I think the great challenge of the American system is that it tries to be all things to all people--the same high schools try to meet the need for both college-prep and direct entry job training, for example, where most European countries seem to separate out these two tracks by high school. Also, our university system seeks to cater to both elite, highly motivated and prepared students, and those who just scraped by with a high school diploma. I'm not saying it shouldn't do so, just that it makes things very complex--there are so many possible tracks to consider.

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A couple more thoughts:

 

I see people compare IB and AP--I actually don't think they are comparable. First of all, the IB exams are the primary requirement for receiving a diploma, whereas AP exams have no bearing on a high school diploma--they are simply meant to show advanced level work in a subject. I think this greatly affects the way both teachers and students approach a subject. Also, IB classes usually cover two years--and students must internalize all the information taught over the course of those two years and be prepared to demonstrate their knowledge at the end not only through multiple choice answer but through extensive essay questions and, for foreign language exams, through oral examinations (at least that was true when I went through). In my experience the AP exams were significantly easier than IB exams even at the standard level--although the content covered might have been similar at that level. At the higher level, there was really no comparison--but content and rigor of the exams was much higher for IB than for AP. I sat for both exams because I was planning to attend university in the States and AP seemed to be better recognized. I also self-studied for a couple of AP exams for which I did not have high school classes, that would have been much more difficult (even if allowed) for the IB exams.

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When I taught at Paris III University, I was told that anyone who passed the Bac could go to the university.

 

I had talked with a French person who was talking about making her kids transcript better with internship experiences, etc....But I'm not sure whether it was for Bachelors or Masters. I know with the Bologna Accord some of the Masters programs have gotten more selective...I'd be interested in hearing if things have changed at the Bachelors level...

 

However, I do have to say that this ultimately has become a cultural choice as well. People hardly even talk about starting a business at all. It is never even thought of as an option. And, yes, this is because of regulation but has become the cultural norm.

 

As an aside, the US is heading that way. The regulations are getting pretty darn tough to do business here as well. I do realize that some states are better to work in than others. But overall we are creating the same sentiment here.

 

It's true that children's businesses are rare...no lemonade stands for example...

 

What is changing in the US?

 

So, over the course of the four years that are equivalent to US high school he will have studied:

 

Basic level (GCSE) (2 years)

Geography

Physics

Chemistry

 

Intermediate level (IB standard level)(4 years)

Maths

Biology

French

 

Advanced level (IB Higher level)(4 years)

Latin

History

French

 

... plus some non-examined subjects including PE, RE, Personal and Social Education...

 

From my point of view (having just studied three subjects for A level) the IB seems broad - perhaps from a US viewpoint it seems narrow.

 

I guess it is those last two years with just 6 areas....lets see that would be equal to Precalc and Calc maybe or maybe a little lower since it is just standard level...then Biology in between SAT II and AP level..then French IV and AP or maybe higher...Latin IV and AP or maybe higher...History and AP History or maybe higher...Ok, must be a mistake with French at both standard and higher level...so lets make it a science? Physics at AP or higher level....

 

It just seems like a student would have more courses than that in two years of high school, studying at a good school (to get this level)...that would be 2 math credits...2 French and 2 Latin, then 1 Bio, 2 Physics..2 History credits....11 credits...hmmm. Maybe not. I think good schools would do 7-8 credits a year in the US? Or should we talk about tracks...Good university entry tracks...how many credits per year?

 

In the Netherlands you have 'universitycolleges' and that would be a better option imo.

 

Thanks for all those lottery details loesje - I'm getting a better picture now...What are university colleges?

 

Honestly, the only people I've ever known in the US who take university courses while still in high school are either homeschoolers, or ones who go to small and/or not great high schools without high level courses, so if they want to take Calculus they have to take it at the local community college.

 

This is the value of the hive....especially with the American system which is so variable depending on the school, not just the district even, let alone the state and national level....

 

I do only have one anecdote about this but it seems like I've read similar situations in posts over the years...My brother teaches in a very well-funded school district where it is not uncommon to do college courses and in fact a relative who attends in the same district graduated early (Jan) after spending her last semester in a distant city doing some other college experience...So I didn't think this was unusual, but maybe it is. At any rate it 'can' happen in the US in good high schools.

 

cont in next post

Joan

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cont from last post...

 

 

Those who graduated from schools that offered IB and chose not to go that route did so because they did not like the lack of flexibility in the IB program. By going the American-style diploma route, they could take IB classes where they wanted them but weren't locked into the entire system--they could more easily customize their education. The full IB program is very time intensive and leaves little time for either other academic studies or for extracurriculars.

Honestly, I like the American system overall for its flexibility--with the caveat that academic excellence should be encouraged and schools should offer high level classes for those that want them.

 

I really like the US high school to university system because it does not lock students into a particular specialization early on as most European systems do (in fact, it is high school that often locks in the specialization as a student who does not to the higher level science track for A levels, IB, Baccaulareate, etc. would not be able to get into a science program for university). At the same time, some of the European systems allow a student to finish their university studies with a specialized degree in fewer years than the American system, because specialization did start earlier.

 

There are going to be pros and cons to any system. I think the great challenge of the American system is that it tries to be all things to all people--the same high schools try to meet the need for both college-prep and direct entry job training, for example, where most European countries seem to separate out these two tracks by high school. Also, our university system seeks to cater to both elite, highly motivated and prepared students, and those who just scraped by with a high school diploma. I'm not saying it shouldn't do so, just that it makes things very complex--there are so many possible tracks to consider.

 

I think you've made a good summary (at least it agrees with my perceptions to this point...:001_smile:).

 

You raise some important philosophical differences...which are what I originally wanted to discuss...

 

"Tracking" (in Europe)....starting at younger ages than in the US....+ or - ?

goes hand in hand with:

"Specialization" (in Europe)...starting earlier... + and -

 

"Catering to elites" (in the US)...:thumbdown:

 

regentrude called the American system 'Utilitarian' = usefulness of studies....:thumbup1:

 

from the FL thread...

Sports teams not being part of high school (in CH at least):thumbup1:

 

and...getting the equivalent of a liberal arts study in high school (supposedly what is to be done here to allow for specialization in university)

 

So in discussing some of these aspects - and hoping people will raise others...I should have probably entitled this for high school and university...

 

I have seen with my ds2 having now gotten his BS that the specialization meant that indeed he could finish after only 3 years of university BUT his liberal arts courses basically ended at the end of high school...So no more French or language studies (as part of the program) but he did already have a pretty good level....Would it be equal to English at university in the US? and FL at university level in the US? I'm curious and don't know...

 

I think the specialization aspect in university is extremely limiting in some ways...it means that you can't get out of that track very easily without starting all over again...

 

regentrude - could you tell me any more about that in Germany? Eg say you start in the sciences in Biology...How easy would it be to change to Physics?

 

 

I see people compare IB and AP--I actually don't think they are comparable.

 

I only put them on the table like that because for entry into Swiss universities they ask for 5 AP's and a high school diploma from Americans or people following the American system...or 4 + diploma + entry exam... I do realize that they are not at all the same and have seen interesting discussions comparing them...From those I tend to think that the higher level esp are usually higher than AP's...

 

But, because the passing grade for an IB is actually fairly low (it was 24 last I heard)...there are universities here which will only accept a much higher grade for entry....eg GE - min 32/42 not including bonus points and EPFL min 38/42 not including bonus points...

 

Joan

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regentrude - could you tell me any more about that in Germany? Eg say you start in the sciences in Biology...How easy would it be to change to Physics?

 

That is exactly the point, there is no "changing". ALL students take ALL sciences concurrently! Bio begins in 5th grade, physics is added to this in 6th grade, chemistry is added in 7th grade, and all three are taken until the students get to drop something in their last two years of high school.

 

I absolutely disagree that German schools aim for specialization - on the contrary: every university bound student has to take two foreign languages for ten and seven years, respectively, three sciences, math through calculus. Whether you are planning to be a German lit major or a math major.

So, the aim is for a broad general education that prepares students for all majors. Except for a handfull of specialized magnet schools that have more math and science or languages (in addition to the normal curriculum, not instead), there is no specialization in high school.

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Except for a handfull of specialized magnet schools that have more math and science or languages (in addition to the normal curriculum, not instead), there is no specialization in high school.

 

I was just going to go to bed and got your update. So that you can sleep in peace ;), I'm sorry that I wasn't clear. I meant in university - how hard is it to change from one to the other...?

 

Joan

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I was just going to go to bed and got your update. So that you can sleep in peace ;), I'm sorry that I wasn't clear. I meant in university - how hard is it to change from one to the other...?

Joan

 

Oh, at the university... I have honestly no idea; with the recent changes to the British/US bachelor system I do not understand how the system works in detail. I liked the old system (5 years to diploma which compares to a masters) much better.

My hunch would be that it would be very difficult to switch without having to start from the beginning because there would be hardly any overlap in classes... not any different than in the US; pretty much the only overlap between bio and physics majors are English Comp, US History, and two semesters of chemistry.

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When I taught at Paris III University, I was told that anyone who passed the Bac could go to the university......

 

This is true only for public universities. If you want to study engineering for example, engineering schools are very selective either the 5 years one or even worse the ones that are 3 years after 2 years of post bac prep classes (math sup, math spe). Business schools have the same system too.

Med school is at the university so every one can sign up for the 1st year, the selection is made at the end of that first year to fill out the right number of spots in 2nd year.

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This is what I call the "guild" mentality that is a major stumbling block for homeschoolers in Europe. People think that parents can't teach their children...

 

BUT on the other hand - I do see a level of proficiency in society.

 

YET it doesn't allow for other ways of gaining experience and expertise...which hinders - in my mind - people who have other ways of learning...

 

 

I don't know... Overall it seems like here in North America we have huge demands for people to have degrees or diplomas in order to qualify for jobs, even if the actual content isn't useful.

 

That is not so much so for entrepreneurs, but the tendency is here I think.

 

Personally I think there are a lot of benefits to a mentorship over a trade school system for learning certain kinds of skills.

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This thread is a very interesting read. Looking at New Zealand's educational system & comparing it to what is described here, I've come to the conclusion that NZ is not like either the US or European systems. NZ does have a great history of entrepreneurism. I'm not sure if that is a result of the educational system, the culture, or the government regulations.

 

Ds#2 is the only one of my 3dc who has gone to PS & I am still trying to get my head around how the system works. Dh can't help as when he went to highschool many, many years ago, NZ's system was much like the British system. Dd is less that 4 weeks away from finishing her BSc. She has no highschool level qualifications, as it is almost impossible for HSers to gain NCEA certificates. Instead many HSers begin taking courses at polytech after age 16 to create a paper trail to show that they can succeed at tertiary level.

 

I wouldn't say that NZ students specialize in highschool or that they have a broad general education. Instead I would describe NZ's highschool approach as individual.

 

University education is very specialized, with a Bachelors degree taking only three years (Honors degrees take four years.) As the typical university student only takes three "papers" each semester, a complete program is made up of only 18 "papers." This leaves little or no time for electives or remedial courses at university. The university semesters are much shorter than the US semesters. Dd had 6 weeks of lectures, followed by 2 weeks of study break, then 6 more weeks of lectures, one week of study break & two weeks of exams. A Masters degree is usually only one more year of study.

 

A university education is not a requirement here to starting your own business & most of the people I know who own their own businesses do not have degrees.

 

JMHO,

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not any different than in the US; pretty much the only overlap between bio and physics majors are English Comp, US History, and two semesters of chemistry.

 

It's been a long time since I've looked at typical coursework in university in the US....Eng and Hx are the only nonscience related subjects one takes? I thought there would be more liberal arts courses somehow that could transfer across majors...

 

 

 

There should be English at higher level

 

That makes sense....I've been meaning to ask you.... When you said that there isn't much emphasis on oral exams.... I had this idea that oral skills were promoted in the UK (the debating societies and the way intelligence is measured by oral skills I had thought)....is that a misimpression?

 

This is true only for public universities. If you want to study engineering for example, engineering schools are very selective either the 5 years one or even worse the ones that are 3 years after 2 years of post bac prep classes (math sup, math spe). Business schools have the same system too.

Med school is at the university so every one can sign up for the 1st year, the selection is made at the end of that first year to fill out the right number of spots in 2nd year.

 

So are the engineering schools not public or can they just have a different mandate somehow?

 

I don't know... Overall it seems like here in North America we have huge demands for people to have degrees or diplomas in order to qualify for jobs, even if the actual content isn't useful.

 

That is not so much so for entrepreneurs, but the tendency is here I think.

 

Personally I think there are a lot of benefits to a mentorship over a trade school system for learning certain kinds of skills.

 

That's true about having a university degree in the US...but somehow it is less confining. As you said, it can be unrelated to the actual job - but still it qualifies you... So here, it is more specific... if you don't have a teaching degree in Zurich, you can't homeschool - even though it has been proven in the US that you don't need one to have a successful homeschool program...

 

Normally, at university level, you study 1 subject.

Within that subject you can have a Major and a Minor, but you don't combine 'arts' with 'music' these are 2 different studies here.

 

At University College you don't have to specialize at the beginning, you got a broad university education. Afther 3 years you can specialize.

For Belgium/The Netherlands it is a unique project.

This one of them :

http://www.roac.nl/roac/

 

That sounds a bit more similar to the US university system. I see that they take AP exams. :-)

 

This thread is a very interesting read. Looking at New Zealand's educational system & comparing it to what is described here, I've come to the conclusion that NZ is not like either the US or European systems. NZ does have a great history of entrepreneurism. I'm not sure if that is a result of the educational system, the culture, or the government regulations.

 

Ds#2 is the only one of my 3dc who has gone to PS & I am still trying to get my head around how the system works. Dh can't help as when he went to highschool many, many years ago, NZ's system was much like the British system. Dd is less that 4 weeks away from finishing her BSc. She has no highschool level qualifications, as it is almost impossible for HSers to gain NCEA certificates. Instead many HSers begin taking courses at polytech after age 16 to create a paper trail to show that they can succeed at tertiary level.

 

I wouldn't say that NZ students specialize in highschool or that they have a broad general education. Instead I would describe NZ's highschool approach as individual.

 

University education is very specialized, with a Bachelors degree taking only three years (Honors degrees take four years.) As the typical university student only takes three "papers" each semester, a complete program is made up of only 18 "papers." This leaves little or no time for electives or remedial courses at university. The university semesters are much shorter than the US semesters. Dd had 6 weeks of lectures, followed by 2 weeks of study break, then 6 more weeks of lectures, one week of study break & two weeks of exams. A Masters degree is usually only one more year of study.

 

A university education is not a requirement here to starting your own business & most of the people I know who own their own businesses do not have degrees.

 

Thanks for giving us a little window of understanding on what is happening over there. It sounds quite different - though making a paper trail is somewhat similar..:001_smile:

 

Joan

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It's been a long time since I've looked at typical coursework in university in the US....Eng and Hx are the only nonscience related subjects one takes? I thought there would be more liberal arts courses somehow that could transfer across majors...

 

 

yes, there are a few humanities electives. Drop in the bucket - the heavy classes are all more specific. Plus, it depends on the department which humanities they count (one chem major I knwo was not allowed to use French 3 for her electives, wheras physics has no problem accepting it...)

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That makes sense....I've been meaning to ask you.... When you said that there isn't much emphasis on oral exams.... I had this idea that oral skills were promoted in the UK (the debating societies and the way intelligence is measured by oral skills I had thought)....is that a misimpression?

 

 

When I was at school there was a drama club but no drama lessons. There was no debating club. I don't remember giving a single talk at school. At university one was expected to argue a point orally in a small group, but there were no presentational skills taught. There must have been a debating club, but I never came across it. And, as I said, not everyone had to do a viva.

 

Now, presentation skills are taught all the way through school - my boys are always doing talks. I don't know about university.

 

It's possible that the presentation skills that you are thinking of were the province of 'public' (i.e. expensive private) schools, not the kind of school that I attended.

 

Laura

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Now, presentation skills are taught all the way through school - my boys are always doing talks.

 

I'll have to see if anything else shows up in my memory (it sometimes takes awhile:)). So are you saying that nowadays they do give more weight to presentations or just that yours are in an expensive school so they do?

 

It is a recognised institute, so our dd (with Dutch nationality) can study there under the Dutch Studyfinance System.

(Private Institutes are not fitting our budget ;))

 

It's great that you can have a clear path ahead...

 

Joan

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I'll have to see if anything else shows up in my memory (it sometimes takes awhile:)). So are you saying that nowadays they do give more weight to presentations or just that yours are in an expensive school so they do?

 

 

 

I think that in my generation the expensive schools had a culture of public speaking that other schools did not. Nowadays, the national curriculum specifically stresses public speaking, so all schools (state schools, ordinary private and expensive private) will pay a lot of attention to it.

 

Laura

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Pixie viewpost.gif

This is true only for public universities. If you want to study engineering for example, engineering schools are very selective either the 5 years one or even worse the ones that are 3 years after 2 years of post bac prep classes (math sup, math spe). Business schools have the same system too.

Med school is at the university so every one can sign up for the 1st year, the selection is made at the end of that first year to fill out the right number of spots in 2nd year.

 

So are the engineering schools not public or can they just have a different mandate somehow?

 

 

Most of the engineering schools are public as far as I know (some are privates but none of the best ranked ones are). They just operate under different rules. Historically engineering school were very elitists, admissions was only after 2 years of prep classes post high school (that turned into 3 years for about 60% of the students) and competitive written and oral exams. In the past 30 years there has been a bit of a shift and more schools are now 5 years with admissions straight out of high school based on transcripts and baccalaureat grades. I went to a 5 year school as did my sister who is graduating this year, and my brother chose the prep class way, 3 different schools, all public.

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Nowadays, the national curriculum specifically stresses public speaking, so all schools (state schools, ordinary private and expensive private) will pay a lot of attention to it.

 

Ok, that makes sense..

 

Historically engineering school were very elitists, admissions was only after 2 years of prep classes post high school (that turned into 3 years for about 60% of the students) and competitive written and oral exams. In the past 30 years there has been a bit of a shift and more schools are now 5 years with admissions straight out of high school based on transcripts and baccalaureat grades.

 

Wow, those prep years sound really tough! This is a part of the system that I didn't know about at all...

 

Joan

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