Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Life at School
Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Life at School
I was able to participate in several classes at Lycee Bertrand d’Argentre in Vitre, France. The first class was a business class. The teacher kept the students actively engaged. His teaching styles were similar to what we receive here, handouts and lecture. There was also extensive use of the dry erase board. The class length was two hours. At the end of an hour, there was a break of ten minutes. Rarely was this break applied, as teaching continued. Towards the end of the second hour though, the students would become increasingly restless. Our second class of the day was a communications class. I could make out a word here and there, but could not understand the entire lecture. Christine and I had the pleasure of sitting next to a student who was taking English as his language course. He periodically told us what the teacher was referring to. This enabled us to pay attention and give the professor the attention that he deserved. A very informative two hours ended and it was time for lunch.
The students as well as the professors were able to take one and a half hours for lunch every day. This is another reason that their class day extends into the evening. They also have an open campus. The students are allowed to leave the campus. The only requirement is that they are back in their classroom for the start of the next class. This is a great way to be able to trust the students. This is definitely different than the regulations here. Students are not allowed to leave the grounds for lunch and usually only have thirty minutes for lunch. The grounds that the school sat on were large and well maintained. The building was modern.
Wednesday’s classes consisted of another business class. Christine and I were asked to sit on a review board as the students did presentations on opening, funding and managing their own businesses. I enjoyed listening to the different ideas the students had. They worked in teams of two or three. I did notice that each and every class that I attended that week had large numbers of students. The average would be around thirty students per classroom. These could have been the classrooms where college level courses were taught. The second half of the morning we were allowed to use the computer lab. The students had to work in teams on another project. I can see how these students are ahead of ours. Not just at this school, but elsewhere in Europe as well. I was talking with the professor that I stayed with in Rennes, and that is the common practice throughout Europe. Longer hours on one subject, definitely helps in the ability to understand more information. Similar to the United States, most students take notes on their laptops. It is easier to understand information that is typed as compared to hand written in haste. The one thing that I did not see in either class were textbooks.
Travelling to class is very different that in the United States as well. My host professor did not have a car. There was a bus stop only a few feet away from his apartment building. We would take the bus to the train station. There were multiple stops on the route. The students in the school rode the train to school. In Vitre anyway, I did not see school buses. The train, or walking was the way to get to school. We walked by a school that contained younger students, and I did not see buses there either. Students are trusted to make it to school by themselves everyday. This is another area of responsibility that these students have and that propels them.
We had the opportunity to each lunch two times while we were at school. There were multiple service lines to expedite the students through. Each entrée would be served in different ways, according to student’s likes and dislikes. It was not take it or leave it. An endless stream of bread was a nice touch. The French definitely like their bread, so do I. A salad was a part of every meal. They also had the option of different additions to their meal, from a fresh piece of fruit, different salads and other accompaniments. Water was always the drink of choice. Pitchers of water lined the tables. I did not see milk offered anywhere. There was no other alternative to drink. This helps in keeping the students healthy. No monster jugs of soda or juices anywhere, just clean cold water to hydrate the students.
The length of the lunch period really enables students to slow down and enjoy their lunches, relax and recharge for the second half of the school day. I think that it is a huge benefit to the students. As Americans, we go as fast as we can all of the time, without ever truly enjoying the time we have. We achieve incredible things with the time allotted. Stress did not seem to even be an issue for any of the instructors or students. Simply a different culture, they stress the same values, just applied differently and achieve wonderful results.