A COMPARATIVE LOOK AT AMERICAN AND FRENCH PEDAGOGIES
Every year, thousands of French students choose to pursue their higher education in the United States of America. This American experience brings a real added value to their career and allows them to open up to a completely different pedagogy than that offered in French Schools.
STUDENTS AT THE HEART OF THE LEARNING PROCESS
Unlike French schools, which are theory-based and somewhat perceived to be distant from the corporate culture, American pedagogy allows students to become aware of the different forms of managerial leadership that exist within organizations. In French schools, the teacher-student relationship is still a traditional top-down one. That is, the teacher simply presents his or her lesson, while the student limits himself or herself to listening, taking notes and, possibly, asking questions. This educational approach has become obsolete in a world where information is accessible and verifiable through various connected devices that can interact over the internet (laptop, smartphone, tablet…).
In the American approach, students are positioned as the main actors of their learning. The teacher-student relationship is almost friendly. The teacher makes himself very accessible for his students and is identified as a source of advice and support. Students feel confident, gain motivation and give their best. The impact on the results is considerable!
This high availability is a core component of the “office hours system”. These are mandatory hours reserved for teacher-student meetings 2 to 3 times a week and throughout the year. This allows students to have a private discussion with their teachers, which gives them the opportunity to express their point of view, share their observations or reveal their concerns and weaknesses. They are thus better understood and therefore better monitored. This involvement with students and the means implemented highlight the crucial difference between French and American pedagogies. The size of the classes, from 10 to 25 students at most, greatly facilitates individualized follow-up.
A DEEP LEARNING OF AUTONOMY
Unlike French schools, American schools do not use the personal work requested by teachers to validate student learning, but to develop their research and analytical skills. Particular emphasis is placed on practice and personal development. The students’ work is mainly carried out outside the school, encouraging them to develop their independence, curiosity and love of discovery.
American teachers do not claim to hold the infused science and remain open to the input of their students. They believe that each student has a say and that he or she should be given the opportunity to express himself or herself and bring his or her point of view to a classroom discussion, even when this opinion is contrary to that of the teacher. It is therefore not uncommon to attend in-depth debates during the sessions, as the objective is to encourage students to reflect and express their ideas freely.