Comparative Education

Topics: Higher education, High school, Education Pages: 41 (13553 words) Published: October 10, 2010
France has a highly organized educational system, which is divided into primary, secondary and tertiary (college) education. Primary and secondary education is usually imparted at public schools although a strong network of private schools also exists. All educational programs in France are regulated by the Ministry of National Education. Schooling in France is mandatory as of age 6, the first year of primary school while secondary education consists of collège for the first four years after primary school and the lycée for the next three years. The baccalauréat is the end-of-lycée diploma that students must attain and is comparable to British A-Levels and American SATs. Students have a choice of sitting for the baccalauréat général which is divided into 3 streams of study, the baccalauréat technologique or baccalauréat professionnel. Higher education is funded by the state and fees are very low. Students from low-income families can also apply for scholarships. Academic councils called académies are responsible for supervising all aspects of University education in a given region.

Twenty years ago, many of them started with this new concept: introducing technology education (TE) in our curriculum. From this point, we developed many project implementing this new subject area and we built progressively meaningful to this area. The aim of this paper is to present this evolution from the French viewpoint with some interest to compare with foreign experiences. We present this evolution through two perspectives: the curricular evolution and the place ofinvestigation. Briefly, we can observe through the French national curriculum a phase of Epistemological delimitation, followed by a phase of activities definitions, arriving, recently, to a phase of activities defined as applied sciences without poor link to the initial epistemological definition. Over these factual dimensions, we can analyze this evolution as the weakness of the knowledge meaningful expressed in the national curriculum, weakness that reinforce the weakness of the TE in front of other subjects as math, literature, foreign language… Many works tried to analyse this particular approach but their audience never really get out the little sphere of TE investigators. A birthday is more the occasion to open perspective and project some ideas and the experience taught us that the position of TE is more a question of social positioning through the knowledge than a question of purposed activities’ interest. 1. CURRICULUM EVOLUTION IN FRANCE

The aim of this paper is to present you some aspects about Technology Education in the French school. French schooling has two levels. Primary school starts at the age of three and lasts until the age of eleven, in three cycles: the initial learning cycle (children three to five years old), the basic learning cycle (five to eight years), and the fundamental learning cycle (eight to eleven). Secondary school is divided into two main cycles: middle school (ages eleven to fifteen) and high school (fifteen to eighteen for general education or fifteen to nineteen for vocational training). Technology education was implemented at each of these two levels in the early eighties.

1.1.1 Some elements about the general background
The main idea of French schooling is the progressive elaboration of the different school subjects. Understanding the world of children goes hand in hand with organizing that world in different knowledge areas, from the general view to the particular description given by the different subjects. Technology education, like that of science, history, or geography, appears as a school subject specific to the middle school level (Ginestié, 2001a).

The second idea of French schooling is the concept of project pedagogy. The introduction of this pedagogy in the Eighties was a departure from a...
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