Preschool Education: France vs. United States

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Preschool Education: France vs. United States

France vs. United States

These educational deference’s are spread out all across the spectrum, from how each system originated to the manner in which teachers are employed to federal education budget; the list of differences is a lengthy one. At the most basic level, French education might seem superior to American education; the federal budget for French schooling is just under $83 billion compared to America’s $69.4 billion. This might be one reason why, in France, the Ministry of National Education is the nation’s largest employer, one responsible for the jobs of every educator from the earliest levels of schooling to professors and researchers, while American grade school teachers are employed district by district, and professors by their respective university or college. Indeed, France's approach to learning is fundamentally very different than that of the United States, as explained in the following quote from Fraser (1963):

"In 1957 the Ministry of National Education gave the Following account of school organization in France: 'The Hierarchy of the three great branches, Primary, Secondary, And Higher, as conceived by the Constituent Assembly and Built by Napoleon - to which was later added Technical Education - remains the basis of our school organization.'"

This might not sound very significant, but what is being said here is that a French education is rooted in three parts while the American education is essentially broken into only two, those being primary and secondary, with the third part, higher education, increasingly becoming a privilege that not enough of our students enjoy. Discounting college attendance rates, there exists a rift between high school graduation rates in the two nations. In fact, in 2001, an estimated 70% of American public high school students graduated. France's aim for high school graduation rates was 80%. French schools are divided into four parts: Maternelle (kindergarten), École élémentaire (Primary school), Collège (Junior High), and Lycée (High school), with their grades counting down the further one goes. American schools are generally divided into three or four parts, counting up as one goes along: preschool and kindergarten, elementary school, junior high and high school.

Many parents in both countries see kindergarten and elementary school, or maternelle and école élémentaire, as a pivotal point in the lives of their children. While attendance in maternelle and kindergarten are mandatory in both nations, parents in each sometimes opt to send their young to school early, as young as age 3 or 4. In America, this institution is called preschool, while in France it is referred to as maternelle, and it is split into three one-year sections. These sections are petite section (age 3), moyenne section (age 4) and grande section (age 5); some parents, however, opt to send their children to a pre-maternelle institution, more commonly known in the States as a daycare center and école élémentaire. Children in both countries are required to attend primary schools, but while France has a nationwide mandate set forth to dictate that all 6 year old children must begin going to school , American rules vary from state to state, some making children start school at age 5, others at age 6. The general consensus in both countries however, is that it is in the best interest of the child to begin schooling earlier than this. The benefits of earlier education are numerous, as it sets forth a pattern of learning and hints of discipline, of having somewhere to be other than in front of the television, as well as giving young children a jump on honing their social skills in a smaller class setting before they are thrust into a generally larger kindergarten or maternelle class.

When it comes to early childhood education, the...
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