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Schools - long
« on: July 26, 2011, 11:02:51 PM »
I thought this would be interesting: What are schools like in your country/area of said country?

I went to a (religious) preschool until I was 5, then started elementary school with kindergarten. I don't remember a whole lot about elementary school except that we always had Field Day at the end of the year - a series of physical contests like Tug - o - war - and that we started learning about the Holocaust in 5th grade. We had to read Number the Stars and watch The Devil's Arithmetic (the latter of which made me bawl).

In middle school, we really started buckling down and learning stuff. We mostly read American literature - The Red Badge of Courage, Edgar Allan Poe's short stories, and The Pearl, for instance. We were taught Roman and Greek history in 6th, and general US History in 7th and 8th. Math had several tracks based on your performance, and I ended up a year "behind" because I wasn't very good in math. Science was mostly just simple biology and genetics stuff - except when we made appleless apple pie in 6th grade.

High school was diverse. Many people I saw every day in middle school I only saw at lunch or before school because of the classes we chose. I had to take 2 classes of Phys Ed, which I despised. I took 2 languages - Latin and French - but I was probably one of quite a few, as I only took French because I had nothing else with which to fill my schedule. We read loads of Shakespeare (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Julius Caesar, and Midsummer Night's Dream), but 11th grade was all American Lit - it was the first time I'd read The Scarlett Letter or Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. 12th grade was a nightmare for lit - Crime and Punishment, The Sound and the Fury, Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison, not the science fiction one!), Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, and The Importance of Being Earnest - and that's a cursory remembrance!

We could choose our sciences after taking Biology and Chemistry I, so I took Biology II - at least I was sure of making a passing grade in that!  :P My Economics teacher was atrocious, but I ended up learning something about the free market system - despite his wanting to show us the entirety of Last of the Mohicans 80 billion times. My AP* European History teacher, though, was amazing - he made history fun again for me, and even gave us all pencils "blessed" by Otto von Bismarck before the AP test.

Sex ed started in 5th grade and was along the lines of "This is how your body works; use feminine products" and "AIDS is a very scary disease and you get it by having sex" to the girls - I have no idea what they said to the guys at that age. Then in middle and high school, we were taught things together and we had to take care of an egg and pretend it was a real human baby  ??? We also had to watch a VERY graphic birthing video that almost made the guys puke.

So, how's about it, my ehellions?  ;D

*AP: Advanced Placement; it's a kind of class that will give you college credit if you make a certain grade on the test - but how much credit at what level is up to the college to which you apply.
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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2011, 07:24:56 PM »
Oookay.  Get ready for another long one.

Pour your beverage of choice and sit down with a nice snack.

My schooling was a little odd for several reasons. 

I was a child of a very conservative Catholic family in the 1950s.  I should have been sent to the local parochial school.  I also read very early and my parents wanted me to go to Kindergarten.  The local Catholic school didn't have that.  I went to public school.

My early schooling was also odd because my class was always being experimented with and moved around.

When I started school, the building was a 19th century beauty.  It had eight rooms on two floors for classes and the Kindergarten was tucked into a bright, little room on the upper floor.  A few months into my education the school board decided that the Kindergarten room would be converted into a library for the whole school.  The Kindergarten was moved to the basement.  This wasn't too bad.  The large room served as a combination gym and auditorium.  The Kindergarten area was cordoned off by racks of folding chairs.

In first and second grade we moved back into the school proper.  It was sort of fun but it wasn't to last.

The opening of the New York State Thruway and the Tappan Zee Bridge meant that our rural area was attractive to people who wanted to leave NYC.  Areas that had been fields around our house blossomed into housing developments.  The little school was no longer adequate to meet the demand. 

Trailers went up in a vacant lot across from the school.  Guess who were the first students moved into that area?  My class was there for third and fourth grade.  In fifth grade we were moved back into the original school building because the trailers were filling up with younger kids. 

It was decided by the powers that be that the upper grades would benefit from having different teachers for different subjects.  However, we didn't move from class to class.  The teachers moved from class to class. 

At the beginning of eighth grade (age 13) another change was made.  Eighth grade students would now attend classes at the local High School.  For some reason the school board decided these things during the school year.  As a result we attended classes in our old school one week and were in the High School the following week.  We were moved the week before Thanksgiving. 

High School was interesting but a bit scary.  At last we had access to a real school library and a real cafeteria.  It's true that we were somewhat sequestered from the general school population.  At the time the girls did tend to wear eye make-up that my mother referred to as resembling, 'Two holes burnt in a blanket' and many of the boys would have made the Fonz look like the Prince of Wales. 

My parents did not want me to go to that school.  I took the entrance exam for an Archdiocesan High School and got it.  It was wonderful. 

It was my first experience with a Catholic education.  The school was run by a Dominican order.  For those who don't know, the Dominicans are rigorously intellectual.  We were pushed to the limit and loved it.

I remember an assignment from the religious instruction course in my Sophomore year (age 15).   

'Because God is all just we know that Hell exists.  Because God is all merciful we don't know if there's anybody in it.  Discuss.  I expect an essay of at least three paragraphs in my office box before our next meeting.'   

Not quite what you expect when you hear the words 'Catholic School' is it?






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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2011, 11:53:31 PM »
This is my experience with Finnish schools, from 1987 to  1999.

School starts at 7 years old. There is preschool but not every does it and you aren't expected to know pretty much anything before it, though I could read. First language starts in third grade, most often it's English but it's possible to have other choices. These days it's also possible to have another language start in fifth grade, but we didn't have the choice. You usually have the same teacher throughout the primary school, though our teacher changed in second grade. Apart from English we had biology and geology (which wasn't so nice in the early 90's when we had to memorize all the new countries and their capitals), music, gym, Finnish and probably other things I can't remember. There was also religious education, or in my case an alternative to it that's supposed to be about ethics and living well but tends to be notoriously badly taught, we had a new teacher every year and all I did was to draw in my notebook. We had a prayer before lunch every day, which feels kind of strange when about four of the students weren't Christians but we don't have a separation of church and state. Our teacher liked to experiment so in the last years of primary school we had independent study. She would give us tasks to do, like make a spread in your notebook about the moose, with pictures. I liked it, because if you finished fast you could read the rest of the time, whatever you wanted.

Middle school started at 13 and we moved to another school. Now we had different teachers for different subjects and some completely new subjects, like chemistry, physics and Swedish. Finland is officially bilingual so you have to study both Finnish and Swedish and if you don't start Swedish at third grade you have to do it in seventh. Some subjects ended after seventh grade, though you could choose them as electives, like music and crafts (which started in third grade, you could choose wood or textiles). My electives were German and crafts, I also had a little typing, home economics (which was compulsory in seventh grade) and a few weeks of Spanish and Russian. We still had a new teacher every year for the alternative to religious education and it was still awful, the worst teacher would warn us of imaginary Satan worshippers and ask us about Finnish laws concerning abortion in exams (my sister had him when she was 13, they were asked about Freudian classification of mental illnesses or something like that). Our middle school was in a lovely and advanced building, we had teachers visit us from all over the world because it was so great. We even had a computer in every class room, even though we never used them.

Compulsory schooling ends at 16 but most people continue to vocational schools or to high school, which is what I did. You have to apply to the schools and they usually take the ones with highest grades. You also don't have to attend high school in your home town which can mean that if your grades aren't good enough you might have to go to a less popular school in another town which can get expensive. We had to buy our books but lunches were still free for everyone.

My high school was supposed to be good and we did have good teachers and a lot of choice. High school was made up of courses, some compulsory but you could make a lot of choices about what you studied and when and with which teacher. Most of what our studied was preparation for school leaving exam, which has some effect on getting into university (but not that much as they have entrance exams). So in Finnish class we wrote essays and learned about grammar and argumentation, not that much about literature (we read some excerpts and poems but I had to read three whole books during my entire school career and we could choose them with some limits so I read Pride and Prejudice, Picture of Dorian Gray and a Finnish classic in which pretty much nothing happened). In languages (two were compulsory, I had three and it was possible to take one or two more in high school) we did mostly grammar. In German I was very good with dative but remember actually speaking it once. I did advanced math, it was fun though I wasn't too good at it and never could figure our vectors. I disliked chemistry and physics and only did the compulsory  courses in them. I liked biology and geography (now I realize that I called it goelogy before but I'm on my phone and can't go back so please pretend that I knew what I was talking about :)) so I took extra courses in them, things like ecology, identifying birds, urban geograhy and things that threaten us (I did my presentation on comets and asteroids and things like that). We also had history, a lot more comprehensive that in earlier grades, though very Euro-centric. I did take an extracourse on African history. You had to take three Arts courses, one music and two fine arts or the other way around. I didn't like music but liked to draw so that suited me. My choices were maybe a little random, but actually served me well. I knew people who wanted to be engineers so they had maths and sciences and there was one girl who took six languages who's a language teacher these days but I knew that I wanted to study in an art school and they don't take grades into account at all, so what I studied didn't really matter though I was a decent student. So I just chose things that interested me.

I liked high school and I also liked the final exams, I did well enough in them but not brilliantly. They're organized a bit differently these days but in my days you had to take at least four exams to graduate and you had to choose them, in addition to Finnish, from maths, sciences, Swedish and first foreign language. You could also take extra exams, your other languages and the exam you didn't choose as compulsory. I did Finnish, Swedish, English and maths and German as extra. I was given a bit of grief for not taking sciences but it was the most difficult one given my study choices (there were two types of non-compulsory courses based on if they could be asked about in the final exams) so I skipped it preferring to spend my study time on Swedish. The exams are held every spring and autumn and you can take part in three successive exams. In my case I took German in the autumn of my third year of high school (because it was so individual you could do high school in two and half to four years) and the rest in the spring and if I failed I could retaken the exams the next autumn. If you fail to complete the compulsory  exams in three tries you have to start in the beginning (it's possible to take the exams even if you're not in high school). Most people do it the way I did, concentrate the exams on the spring of third year because regular school stops for third year students in February and you have a month's study leave to get ready. The first exams were language listening comprehension tests, before the leave. Then there were two Finnish tests (that's changed in recent years) and the others. The exams are national and held at the same time everywhere and very official, the grades are given by a panel in Helsinki, not your own teachers. It's possible to leave high school without the exam and get into university but you haven't really graduated then and for some people becoming a ylioppilas (a "over student") is a big deal, there parties and you have the right to wear a white hat, though actually anyone can buy them and they're only really used in May Day celebrations. The hat is a remnant from times when students had to wear uniforms, in 19th century.     

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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2011, 03:22:47 AM »
I went to (public/state) school in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the '70s and '80s. Back when I went, it was not common for children to go to nursery school (kindergarten). I could read, write a bit, and knew all my identifying information when I went, but there were some children who couldn't spell or write their name, didn't know what their parents' names were, and had no idea where they lived. But this was considered normal. Schools used different systems back in the '70s. The school I went to used to stream the children (put them in classes according to ability.) You'd be in one class for two weeks while the teacher worked out your ability and then were streamed into your class for the year.

I was put in the 'A' (bright; advanced) class where you were taught to spell, read, etc. using the correct alphabet and spelling. The children in the 'C' class were not so lucky - supposedly the school used ITA (International Teaching Alphabet) but actually all they did was teach children to spell phonetically, so the word "said" would be spelt "sed". I knew kids who were taught on that system and they couldn't even spell properly in high school! There was no system of transition, so one day they were just expected to start spelling correctly. But not all schools used that system, or at least it had been phased out by the time my brother went to school three years later.

Primary school here lasts from Grade 1 to Grade 7 (they started using grades exclusively in the late '90s - before then it was Grade 1, Gr 2 and Standard 1 to 10 - Std 10/Gr 12 here is known as Matric). High school is from Grade 8 to 12. The public (state) schools here were segregated by colour. The 'white' schools were good; the others, not so much. However, in the '90s schools were all made part of one education department and desegregated.

I hated high school. HATED it. The school I went to was not considered a good school and although the pass rate was (and still is) very high - 98% or something - it was difficult to learn because a lot of the pupils just weren't interested and they were so disruptive you couldn't concentrate. All my Std 8 (Gr 10) science notes, for example, were crinkled becaused the boys would sit at the back desks by the sinks and squirt water at the kids in front. I begged my mother to let me go to another school but she had gone there (in the 1940s!!!) and kept saying, "It's a good school." It wasn't.

You had two years (Gr 8 and 9) of 14 subjects (English, Afrikaans, Maths, Science, Biology, History, Geography, Accountancy, Art, a third language - I took German, a fourth language - we had Zulu, Media Centre, P.E., and Guidance). Then in Grade 10 you could choose six main subjects - well, actually four, because you had to take English and Afrikaans. I took Maths, Geography, Science and Biology. You could also take the subjects on Lower, Standard or Higher Grade. (I took all mine on Higher Grade.) Those have since been dropped and now there's just one grade of subjects.

Back then you had to get points to get into university. For law you needed like 30 points. For a professional teaching degree (you could do a diploma but I did the degree) you needed, I think, 22 points. Subjects on higher grade were worth more points than subjects on standard grade. (I was accepted to Wits - the University of the Witwatersrand - with points to spare.) Universities have since amalgamated with colleges and I think there is no longer a diploma (college)/degree (university) disparity.

Schools are very different now. These days it's pretty much expected that a child will have gone to kindergarten, and most schools offer Grade 0/R before Grade 1. There are 9 subjects (now called Learning Areas) in primary school, and in high school children are expected to take Maths (either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy) until Matric. But the education department keeps changing the way things are done, how the subjects are arranged, etc. Next year they are implementing yet another curriculum change - this will be the third in something like 12 years. They are implementing it in Grades 1 to 3 next year, and in Grades 4 to 7 in 2013.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the education I got. I just wish I'd fought harder to go to the high school I wanted to as I have no good memories at all from high school.

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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2011, 10:33:46 AM »
Preschool: From ages 3-4 I went to the preschool run by the teaching program at the local university. I have very few memories of that, and they all involve playing in the big yard that belonged to the school, so I have no idea what they taught us, if anything. Not all kids in my area went to preschool, but I think the majority did. In my case I suspect I went at least partially so my mom could go back to work part-time.

Elementary school: Kindergarten-5th grade is elementary school here. Kindergarten is half-day, one class in the morning and another in the afternoon, and then you start full days in first grade. We were taught to read and write and things like basic math in first and second grade (addition and subtraction with dried beans as counters, as I recall) and learned lots of educational songs. I remember one about Native American tribes and another about Harriet Tubman.

My third grade class was pretty bizarre, as the teacher had some extremely odd ideas about education and discipline. She felt that she didn't need to have a set curriculum, because the students would tell her what they were interested in, and we'd all learn about it together. Also, disciplining a misbehaving child in any way would do irreversible harm to his or her fragile spirit, so the only form of discipline was the teacher taking the miscreant aside and telling him or her, "You're making me very sad." According to my parents, who still shake their heads at that class, most of the parents were totally on board with this method. The class was about one step away from Lord of the Flies at all times. I spent that grade hiding in a corner, reading and trying to be as unobtrusive as humanly possible so as not to attract the attention of the budding juvenile delinquents flourishing in the classroom. My fourth and fifth grade teacher (same guy for both grades), was great and enjoyed doing science experiments. You went to the upstairs wing of the school for fourth and fifth grade, which made us feel very grown up. Unfortunately, the roof leaked, so when it rains (as it does rather frequently in the Pacific Northwest), we'd have to put buckets and pie tins all around the classroom.

Middle school is 6th-8th grades, and for the first time we had more than one teacher, usually two or three for various subjects, with one being our "homeroom". I cannot possibly overstate my hatred for middle school. My school district was of the opinion that "everyone is gifted" (which makes absolutely no logical sense) and thus refused to have any gifted programs. This meant that the teachers had to teach to the lowest common denominator, student ability-wise. Now, I'm not very good at math, but I was always several years above my grade in reading level, and therefore spent most of middle school bored out of my mind. I remember studying the Civil War (at least twice), some world history, Greek mythology, learning all the countries and capitals in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America (though oddly we never learned all the US states), and being forced in 7th and 8th grades to read books I'd read when I was in 3rd and 4th grade.

High school is grades 9-12. The high school also didn't have a gifted stream, but after 9th grade you were allowed to pick from several different English, history and science courses, meaning that you could pick classes that were known to be more or less challenging depending on your interests. We had to take at least 3 years of math (4 for the college-bound), 2 of science, 4 of Social Studies which included one year of World History and one year of American History, and 2 of foreign language (Spanish, French, Japanese and German were offered). I took 4 years of both Spanish and French, which was apparently very unusual as I had to persuade the administration to let me register for both languages.

Again, I spent a fair amount of time being bored,  but I also took some fantastic English courses (two Shakespeare classes, a Utopian Literature class, and one on Tolkien, which a lot of kids took thinking it would be an easy A, a idea promptly squashed by the teacher, who announced on the first day of class that, in addition to The Lord of the Rings, we'd be reading Beowulf, several Norse myths, excerpts from The Silmarillion, and some of Tolkien's correspondence. That was a great class.) Again, the school district had no money (which was why the roof of the elementary school leaked), so we were often using hopelessly out-of-date materials, such as world history textbooks that discussed the Soviet Union as if it was still in existence. I went to high school from 2001-2005.

I went to public school for all of my education since the only private school was the Catholic school two towns over, and our public schools are reasonably good. Overall, I think I got a decent education, at least in high school. Because I've always been a big reader, I don't really know what I learned in school and what I learned on my own time, but I did get a good grounding in French and Spanish, which was good since I went on to get a BA in those languages.

edited because it's just too ironic to have misspellings in a post about education.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 10:52:59 AM by Shea »

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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2011, 06:11:19 PM »
US here, attended school from Sept 1990, graduated in June 2003.

I did go to preschool, which is separate from the public education system.  I didn't really learn anything there, though.  I remember that I wasn't allowed to take naps (otherwise I wouldn't sleep at night), so I got to look at picture books.  When they figured out I could read, they liked sending me to new adults who wouldn't believe it.   ::) 

I was in a half-day kindergarten class, but there are also full day classes.  The main focus seems to be learning to identify and write the alphabet, write and identify our own first and last names, and counting to 100.  There were other projects and such done too, but the above was the big focus.

My district's elementary school went from K-5th grade (ages 5/6 to 10/11).  You'd get a different teacher each year, but you'd have the same teacher for all your daily subjects except for PE, Library and Music.  I *LOVED* my librarian.  She let me "sneak" into the older grade level books when she realized I was bored with the picture books. 

Middle School was grade 6-8.  When I was in 7th grade, it went to a uniform policy although most of the parents were against it.  The problem with these "uniforms" was that they weren't all created equal.  You could wear khaki or navy blue slacks, shorts or skirts (knee length) and a white or navy blue shirt with a collar.  You also had to wear a belt.  While shirts were not officially allowed to have logos, it became a fashion statement to wear tape over Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger logos.  Whatever the school proclaimed, you COULD tell who bought their clothes at Wal-Mart and who bought them at Abercrombie & Fitch.  It was miserable for anyone who couldn't afford the high end clothes.

We had 6 classes in middle school, each taught by a different teacher, except for our "block" classes which included English and History and were taught by the same teacher.  Over middle school I took: English grammar and literature, US and World History, shop, math, science, home ec (cooking & sewing), orchestra, journalism and a couple other electives I don't remember anymore.

9th grade started high school in that district, but my family moved to a different district with junior high (grades 7-9) instead of middle school, so I got another year of it.  It was pretty identical to middle school, except I took drama instead of shop or home ec, got to take a foreign language (Spanish), and the kids were nicer.  There was less of a divide between rich or poor here, too.

High school was grades 10-12 for me, but when my brother "moved up" to high school 3 years later, the district changed and both 9th and 10th graders "moved up" together and 6th graders joined the junior high, which was now a middle school.   ::)

At any rate, high school had 3 classes each day, on an alternating schedule: "A" days might have Math, English and Journalism, while "B" days would have History, Science and Spanish.  We could choose our classes much like you do for college: if you met the prerequisites and you had enough of each type of class, you were good to go.  For example, English credits included: Literature, World Literature, Fiction, Poetry, and Writing.  Math: Algebra, Advanced Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Trig, etc. and so on.  You had to have 23.5 credits to graduate, which worked out to 6 classes each quarter with room to have 1 semester somewhere and still manage to graduate on time by taking something else as an elective.

P.E. was also required K-12, but I got a note to get out of it after 7th grade.  I think I would have been fine doing it at the junior high & high school, but I was tortured about it at middle school and gave up on it.


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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 10:28:42 PM »
i was at UK school 1969-82

No pre-school.

Infants (aka K/1st) 2 years. basic 3 rs. lots of play.

Junior ( aka  2nd- 5th grades) building . Different teacher each year. simple history,science, geography, religion ( Cof E), more complex maths, English.

Comp part
1 ( aka 6-8 grades) in my school  second language was French from 6th. The top students took Latin in 7, the next 2 groups German. In year 8, the top French/Latin group got to do a 2 year German course in a year..Yup I was one of those.
Apart from that we did science, split into 3 parts, maths, English language and literature, history, geography, religous studies/classical studies and art/music/home economics/ craft, design and technology aka woodwork and metalwork by gender.

Comp part 2 aka grades 9-10 Olevel/GCSE. Had to do English Lang, English Lit, Maths and French. Plush another 5 subjects with at least one science and one humanoties.

Many British students leave school at age 16.

Comp part 3 grades 11-12

A levels. Subject of choice provided you passed the O level. These were the exams which were used for university admission.
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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2011, 05:10:35 PM »
I was a student in the French school system in the 70s and 80s and a teacher in the 90s.

One difference right away with the US : the age cut off. In France, they consider the child's year of birth, not their age at the start of the school (if for no other reason that school doesn't always start exactly at the same date). So while the first year of elementary school is "sort of" the equivalent of first grade, it's a little different because the kids are on average a little younger.

Education is mandatory but attending a school is not. Practically, however, homeschooling is very rare. The only kids I've known to be educated at home had severe health issues or extremely religious parents.


Preschool (école maternelle)
Free and public, no mandatory attendance.
There were three sections when I was a student :
Little kids(Petits): Children who turn(ed) 3 in 2011.
Medium kids(Moyens : Turn 4 in 2011
Big kids (Grands): Turn 5 in 2011. (≈ Kindergarten)

With more and more working mothers, grandparents not always being available and daycare spots a premium, schools have started opening classes for toddlers (Tout Petits). Kids have to be potty-trained to enter and spots are not guaranteed. That's actually the case for all preschool levels. Because it's not mandatory, schools are not obligated to find a spot for a kid.

Elementary school (école élémentaire)
Mandatory attendance once the child is registered in a school.
Mandatory education starts at 6. For this reason, schools have an obligation to find a spot for a student aged 6 to 16.
Five levels (≈1st through 5th grades in the US)


Junior High (Collège d'Enseignement Secondaire)

Four levels (≈6th through 9th grade)
Where kids start having several teachers and roam from one classroom to the other. When I was a kid, that's when you started learning your first foreign language, then your second foreign language two years later.

The way it was done back then:

After two levels of CES, kids who did not do well in academics or where not interested were sent to a vocational school to get a CAP (vocational degree). CAPs are actually quite respected for many trades. A plumber with a CAP is a rare commodity these days.

Kids who had finished the four levels could go to a vocational high school (LEP, where they would get a vocational degree of higher level than a CAP) or a regular high school.

High School (Lycée)

Three levels.

The goal of the Lycée is to prepare students for the Baccalauréat (or bac). Everything revolves around it. The bac is the sesame that opens the doors to University as well as prep schools. Unlike in the US, there is very little focus on rites of passage and socialization. No prom, no yearbook. There is hardly any focus on sports beyond PE, because there is no such thing as sports scholarships.

In the '80s, you had one year of Lycée to decide your orientation and your type of bac. At the end of that year, you could choose

Section A (≈Liberal Arts) with several subsections. I picked the Literature and Maths subsection (A1).
Section B (Economics and Social Sciences)
Section C (Maths). Considered the most difficult and thus, the most prestigious. Some Universities would only accept students with a C bac.
Section D (Biology and Physics) Somewhat prestigious too.

My school also had "technical" (higher vocational) bac classes, sections E through G. I had friends in the G1 (secretarial) and G2 (accounting) sections.

During the last two years, we worked relentlessly for our bac. The Literature part of the bac was between the two years, but all the rest was at the end of the second year. I passed my bac () and then signed up for University.


I know very little about prep schools (Classes Préparatoires) and graduate schools (Grandes Écoles), except that the former are very arduous and the latter very hard to get in.

I went to University. Luckily for me, it was located in my city so I didn't have to deal with dorms. It was not hard to get in at all. On the day you got your bac result sheet (), you went to the University of your choice and waited in line (I think kids whose exam center was nowhere near their University of choice could do pre-register by mail). You picked your section (mine was a multidisciplinary section called "Human Sciences and Communication", which comprised Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and Linguistics). You could get a two-year degree (DEUG, got that one), and after that a three-year degree (Licence, got that too), then a four-year degree (Maîtrise, failed that one because I was going through tough personal stuff), then a five-year degree (DESS or DEA), and finally try for a doctorate. Most universities are public and there is no tuition.

There were also technical Universities but I am not at all familiar with those.

Edit: I forgot a difference: in France, public school teachers are not hired by the school district. They are government employees and work for a very large district. The nine years I was a teacher, I worked in a bunch of schools in a bunch of cities but I only ever had one employer. I only met my supervisor ONCE in all those years. The school principals were NOT my supervisors, just the school administators. The supervisor (Inspecteur) manages the very large district and supervise a great number of teachers.That make it difficult to give references when applying for a teaching job in the US.  :(

« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 05:20:03 PM by BabylonSister »


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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2011, 04:14:19 AM »
Madison, WI school system from the 70s through the 80s:
- half-day kindergarten; back then reading by and in kindergarten was not expected, and I didn't learn until 1st grade.
- Elementary school: lots of basic knowledge
- Middle school (grades 6-8):
English in 6th grade had a placement test; there were 10 6th grades classes and so ten English classes. I was in the highest level one. We had fun in that class.
Math also had placement: I was in class 5 out of ten, which is about right.
We also took Home Ec. for 1/3 of the year, Art for 1/3 of the year and Industrial Art for 1/3 of the year.
Science and Social Studies were randomly assigned.

High school:
You needed, at the time, 2 years of science to graduate, 2 years of math, 3 years of both English and History and 3 years of Gym class.  I also took 4 years of Spanish (Cs, Ds, and Fs for me), 1 year of German, 1 year of Latin, jewelry design and many elective history and English classes.  I took enough classes that had I been so inclined I could have graduated after Junior Year.

My school system did not have, at that time, AP classes or the like.  I doubt I would have been admitted anyhow. I have no idea if they have it now.

History tended to start with the Sumerians and end some time around WW2.

For English I read mainly depressing stuff: Tess of the D'Urbevilles, The Heart of Darkness, MacBeth, Great Expectations, and other fun-lving books.
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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2011, 10:18:56 AM »
i'm turning 19, so not to long ago I finished mandatory school  :D
anyway, the schools I attended were in Belgium, Europe. (Flanders to be precise, schools are totally different and i don't know anything about walloon schools)

BG: around here, you have two types of schools. catholic schools and goverment schools. Both are public schools, but around 80% are catholic schools. the only difference really is that a catholic schools teach a subject called "godsdienst" litterally religion, goverment schools teach a subject called "zinsgeving", in theory its the same subject, but the goverment one doesn't teach about religions. altough both are more focused on being good to other people, charity, etc. (I went to a catholic school.)

Kleuterschool (preschool)
there are 3 years of this. you can have a fourth year, or half a fourth year also.
there are 4 moments in the year in which you can start (all after a vacation) and when you start, depends on when you turned 2.5 years old. if you are 2.5 on any of the starting moments you start after that vacation. otherwise you just start the first class the year you turn 3 years old. if you started at 2.5, then you mostly have to double the first year.

preschool is not mandatory, but the last year of it is. in reality I don't know anybody who hasn't gone to preschool.

it is mandatory to receive education when you turn 6 till 18, but a school is not mandatory, like babylonsister

lagere school (elementary)
you start the year you turn 6. and normally you finish when you are or become 12. So it spans 6 years. being held back a year is very common too. school starts at 8.30 AM you get 3 breaks for playing outside. at 10 AM, 10 minutes, at 12AM, 45 minutes including lunch, and around 3 PM, 5 minutes. school finishes at 3.30 pm, but on friday most schools finish at 3 PM. the basics are covered of almost all subjects and in the 5th year you start getting french lessons. all classes are given by the same teacher of sometimes you get a shared class with 2 teachers. P.E. is almost always given by a teacher that only gives that subject and gives it to the entire school. 2 hours a week per class. mostly there are 2 classes per grade with around 20 kids per class.

middenschool (middleschool)
the year you turn 12 you go to middleschool. this takes 2 years. most often you get 7 classes a day. 2 classes, break of 10 minutes, 2 classes, lunch around 30 minutes, 2 classes, 5 minute break, 1 class. the classes are all set up for you. you don't get any choice in the matter. your subjects are chosen depending on what study direction you picked in the beginning. you have Latin, Modern extra, Modern Basics and "Beroeps voorbereidend jaar" Latin has more languages and latin classes, most start off doing this, because we have a waterfall system. the you have modern extra, this contains both economics classes and sciences modern basics is an easier version of modern extra, and "Bvj" is a direction that is picked by the one that had it very hard in elementary school. it's the easiest study direction. in the second year of middleschool everybody starts learning english.

college, TI, ... (high school)
the year you turn 14 you begin high school. there are different types of school depending which study directions they offer. I will talk about two to keep it easy, the two I went to.
 First the basics of the studydirection system, you have ASO, TSO, BSO and KSO.
ASO: the highest, contains, latin-greek, latin-maths, humane sciences, economics-maths, economics-languages, sciences-maths, .... this also is mandatory to do a german course starting in the 2nd year of high school. which otherwise only would turn up if you studied a language based direction.
TSO: it's one step lower and there are two types of TSO, you have the theory type and the practic type, the theory type looks like ASO, just easier. it mostly contains studydirections that are partly the same to the ASO ones, just made easier.  the practic type are directions in which you learn to work with your hands like: woodwork, metalwork, plumbing, car mechanics, printer,..., sometimes there are internships paired with exams
BSO: the easiest direction, made for those for who the rest is to hard, and who will in most cases start working immediatly after school, a diploma in BSO will also not get you accepted into college without an additional year, called the 7th year. it contains directions like child care, elderly care, secretary... these have no examsn but internships
KSO: art school, not very well known but there are a few, top sport schools are also included in this. mostly focused on the practices of the sport and the art, not the basic knowledge.
At the end of any year you get an evaluation if you get to continue in your direction (A-attest), need to lower a level (B-attest) or need to be held back a year (c-attest). this is dependant on exam periods. there can be a total up to 5 exam periods, but mostly in the last year this are only 2 moment. autumn break for 1st november, christmas break, spring break, easter and june.
it is expected that you complete both the 1st and 2nd year of high school in the same direction, but it is not mandatory and you can change after one year. in the 3rd and 4th year it is mandatory to do these in the same direction, so a B-attest doesn't exist in these years, but some schools can make expections if the directions are really much the same, but of different difficulty levels. since also a lot of directions only exist in either the first 2 or the last 2 years of high school, most people pick a different one in year 3.
some rare schools also have subjects that you can choose, but that is mostly only 1 hour a week. there is also the possibility to work part time and only go to school 2 hours a week, when you turn 16, mostly for people who are schoolsick and do a practic TSO direction.

hoge school, universiteit (college, uni)
the year you turn 18, you pick a college or uni direction that interests you. there are courses that take 3 of 4 year (college) or courses that take 5 year or longer (uni). not taking into account doctorates or stuff. if you're lucky you get to pick 2 or 3 choice subjects out of a choice of 10 that the school finds fits into the course. you mostly have internships every years. as always you pick a course and this has almost all subjects set in stone.

every schoolyear always starts on 1 sept.  and ends on 30 june. exept when you are in college or uni, then it mostly start somewhere at the end of sept., beginning of Oct. and ends somwhere in between late may, till early july. depending on your school and direction you picked.

P.S.: sorry for any unclear words, I tried to translate the words as good as possible


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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2011, 01:46:03 PM »
Canadian here – attended school from 1975-1989. 
I went to JK at 4 years old for half days at a school in town.  I don’t remember much about it except that the school had a girl’s entrance and a boy’s entrance and we used to taunt the boys about the fact they couldn’t come on our stairs.  This was the only school I went to like this.
I only spent two months in Senior Kindergarten as I was reading at a third grade level and was advanced into Grade 1.
Grades 1 through 8 (elementary school)  – I spent at a rural school with pretty much the same core group of 20 people.  Others came and went, but the core remained.   We learned French as our second language starting in grade 1. Up until grade 6 or so we had a bible study every couple of weeks (I did not go to a religious school) – the only thing I remember about that is studying the book of Job.  By the end of grade 6 I could name (and mark on a map) all the provinces and capitals in Canada, the states and capitals of the USA, and the countries of the world.  We learned Canadian history as well as a bit of American and European history (major events).  Other than that we had the normal subjects.   In grade 7 and 8 we were bussed to a school in town once a week for shop / home economics.  (shop class one half the year, home ec the other).  In these grades we acted out “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Hamlet” (I was Polonius).   We also read mythology and a Tale of Two Cities. 
Grades 9 – 13 (High School) – This is when we chose our subjects to take.  We needed to achieve 30 credits for a grade 12 (lowest graduation point) after which we could continue on for our Ontario Academic Credits for university courses.  In the 30 credits there were requirements (ie. One phy ed credit must be attained.) but the bulk of it was choice.  I ended up with 7 english credits for example – grade 12 offered media studies and OAC year offered both Canadian and American literature courses.  I also took French all the way through and three years of Italian.  Some high schools offered Spanish or Portuguese depending on who taught there.

After high school you have your choice to continue on to college or university.  College is generally considered a more practical, rather than academic option.  A lot of college courses offer co-op placements in your second and / or third year for example.

I could have rambled on longer here - if anything is unclear, please ask.  :)


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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2011, 01:34:48 PM »
I was born in the US to a Jewish/Orthodox/Middle class family, we lived in Long Island and then moved to Queens (5 mins from JFK airport) and when i was 10 (in 1970) we moved to Israel. I am one of five kids.

we went to Public school for kindergarten (which was strange because we were the only ones- as far as i know - of my parents friends' kids who went to public school. everyone went to jewish schools). in First grade we all went to private jewish schools. our school had half day English studies (english, social studies, geography, math etc) and half day Hebrew studies (hebrew, bible, jewish law etc).

In 1970 i moved ot israel with my family. most schools here are public - there are secular, religious and ultra religious. there are also two kinds of special schools - schools for kids who need special ed and schools for kids with special talents like music, arts etc.  nothing is free, even though the schools are supposed to be free. religious schools are mostly segregated boy/girl classes and many of the religious schools are completely separate (only girls).

in israel, many homes have both parents working and children will go to government/organization run day care from 3 monhts old. pre school starts at age 3, elementary school is grades 1-6, middle school is 7-9 and then HS.  the day usually starts at 8, sometimes at 7. religious schools will start with morning prayers (about 20 minutes). there is a break at 10 AM for snack/sandwich. when i was in elementary school (till 1974) schools would serve subsidized hot lunches that were cooked on campus and in fact, we had home ec classes and the students would help prepare and serve lunch. then they stopped that whole program and it was reinstated a few years ago but it isn't the same - the schools purchase meals from a caterer, and they are delivered in little disposable tins (kids, parents, and teachers aren't happy with this at.all).

at the end of HS you have to complete special state exams (called "bagrut") - each test is worth a certain number of "points", depending on how many hours per year the students had, and you need a min of points to achieve the bagrut. you don't have to complete the exams in order to complete HS but it's a good idea - you need for university and for many jobs.

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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2011, 01:35:01 AM »
Let's see, I've always been a born and bred lady of Southern California, of the deserts.  Never actually moved a day of my life. :)

I started with Preschool in an older schoolhouse, one roomed, green and white painted, no electricity, or running water.  Everything was handled with the next door senior center, incase we really needed to use the facilities.  We also borrowed a nearby park's playground once a week, and went to a pool just down next door the senior center a couple times during summer.  I also remember learning some very basic building blocks of knowledge, with lots of home support for reading, math, and Go Fish. ;D

I have fond memories of that preschool, including fingerpainting a flower poster and a toy record player (it worked!), but the schooling itself now handled inside the senior center, and the building it was in was recently put into a parking lot in a historical building, again, not too far from the senior center.  It makes me sad, though-- the building suddenly looks worse for the wear since its move, with a good chunk of its pain peeled off and starting to sag.  It was fine for a decade plus, what happened in the past couple months?

Next was Kindergarten, and the school was built the year I entered Elementary.  Again, a very fun teacher I remember a lot of for a little kid, she was a nice, elder lady.  We again, basic reading, naptimes, and playtimes.  I remember making a butterfly out of construction paper and tissue paper.  :)

1-5, we went through the paces of math, reading.  I must have read The Giver and Number The Stars in the 2nd grade, and my 1st grade teacher gave me the basics of learning languages, with teaching us various phrases of Welcome and Good Day in various languages, and basic ASL.  Welkommen!  ;D  My 2nd grade teacher I also adored, we're still family friends with her family.  :)

3rd grade I didn't handle so well, it was then I was starting to show signs of both ADD and an high functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder.  Hello I didn't like my homework, and my teacher obviously wasn't good at handling special needs kids.  Short story on that:

I remember going to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) for a field trip.  They started by touring the offices, and my teacher leaned down to ask me what I thought.  In all my blunt, literal, hey look I have PDD honesty (:D), I told her it was boring.  I don't know why this upset her so, but it did, and I got told to go back to school.  Once the class returned, I was sent home... I took it literally, and started walking home.  I was supposed to actually, you know, go to the office, but I took the phrase and walked home with it.  Funny in retrospect, but I switched classes shortly after.  I did hear a little later that she was having a difficult time setting up the trip...

4th was another great teacher.  She had an African Grey Parrot named Josephine, and we did show and tell every week.  We once brought in my cat Andy, when he was much younger and more lithe.  He didn't take crowds well, at all, and I am sorry to you kitty for that!  He dashed all over the classroom, then finally underneath Jo's cage.  Jo, understandably, climbed back inside her cage, even though Andy didn't want to eat her.  We eventually got him caged... never tried that again.  :)

Fifth grade wasn't so good.  Hormones, and PDD-NOS were finally catching up to me, and this is the year I got an official diagnosis.  The teacher was fantastic, but I'm afraid I was a horrible student.    :-[  I never did homework, and barely paid attention in class.  I'm so sorry now.

After that, I migrated to my junior high.  As a whole, junior high wasn't exactly a good time, but it wasn't bad either, and covered 6-8 grades.  I voluntarily chose to be held back 6th grade year, and I'm glad I did.  It let me catch up on all the math I was having a really hard time with, and I got to have the most awesome computer teacher in the world EVER for four years.  I really liked him, he was patient, kind, and all around awesome.   ;D  Also, hate to not mention a husband and wife who were both teachers, one had a chess club that I regularly went to during lunch time, and the other was a math teacher who I actually got for a year, and regularly went to play Legend of Kyrandia or Archery on her Mac during lunchtime.  She also let me doodle on my math when I was done, and encouraged me towards it.  :)

High School, 9-12, was probably a far better time for me.  I had kept all my friends I made in middle school, the pressure was barely there, and I did GREAT.  I also met my (still) BF in Junior (11th) year in my CompTIA (IT Tech and A+ Prep) class.  He had anger issues at first, but I found out later he is actually an Aspie, and kind of on the same boat as me.  He has since had anger management and therapy regarding his disorder, and is a wonderful human being...

Yeah yeah, this ended up being way more personal and mushy than it should have, but I'm a very sentimental and nostalgic person.  I love having my memories. :)


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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2011, 03:13:08 AM »
I can give the bare basics for NZ and part of Australia.

I started Primaryschool at age 5 in 1979 - that was from Primer 1 and 2 followed by standard 1, 2, 3 and 4 and then Form 1 and 2.  Because I grew up in the country we didn't have kindergarten, we had a socialising session once a week called Play Centre.  Also, again because we grew up rural, we were at a full primary school. (P1 - F2)

My son, who grew up in a city started kindergarten at 2.5 for 2 half days a week, then as he got older he went to afternoon or morning sessions.  he started primary school in 1999 at age 5 also - but by then it was called J1 and J2 and then they went by years.  So year 3 and 4 etc. He did his year 7 & 8 at Intermediate (age 11 and 12ish)  When we moved to Australia, he was back at primary school for part of year 7, then they start High School for year 8.

High School I started High School in 1988 at age 13 and a bit, we went from Form 3 (3 formers are traditionally called turds.) through to Form 7.   We had our major exams in 5th Form - School Certificate (I passed - scraped through with Maths and Science, but a pass is a pass!) then in 6th Form we had another lot of exams for 6th Form Certificate.  In 7th form we had the option of doing exams for HSC (Higher School Certificate) or Bursary (If you were planning on continuing onto University.  Usually Students were 18 when they finished High School.

Now that we are living in Australia - the school system confuses me, but my son is now Year 12 and in his final year of high School.  They are about to start school holidays, and when they return they will be doing their mock exams and then the real ones start in November.

My understanding off the 2 is that NZ have an extra year of high school - I'm not sure if it's beneficial or not.


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Re: Schools - long
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2011, 04:52:17 AM »

Some kids start at 5 these days but almost everyone in my school started at 4.

4 years old:Start primary school
Junior Infants (about 3 or 4 hours per day)
Senior Infants (about 4 or 5 hours per day)
1st Class - 6th Class ( 9am - 2.30pm)

12 years old: Start Secondary School
1st -3rd year: 10 or 11 different subjects
3rd year (age 15): Junior Cert exams which were 9 subjects.  I did English, Irish & Maths (all compulsory with 2 exams per subject and Maths was all types of Maths) and then did Geography, History, German, French, Science (Biology, Physics & Chemistry) & Music.  Languages also had listening and oral exams too.

4th Year: Transitional year - often optional, it wasn't available in my school so I didn't do it.

5th - 6th year: 8 or 9 subjects with 7 subjects done for the leaving cert exams in 6th year.  I did English, Irish & Maths (again compulsory to get into university), German, Geography, Physics and Chemistry.   

17 years old - University
Some people were 18 and one or two were 19.  Your place in University depends on your results from your leaving cert exams.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2011, 06:13:15 AM by Mazdoy »