La Vie en Bleu (Collar)

The French are cultivators of exquisite taste. When I think of the life of a French woman, I think of flutes of effluent champagne, red lipstick stains on café au lait mugs, and racks and racks of little black dresses. The French are known for their sophistication and cultural decadence, but they’re also eminently pragmatic when it comes to teenage development for the working world.

Here in the States, everybody has to take chemistry, history, biology, algebra, and English. For admission into university, everybody has to take the SAT and have a well-rounded extracurricular life. There is no specialization program as there is in Europe, and almost every high school student in the nation has to take the same curriculum. The bookworms have to pick up a calculator, and the science fanatics have to read The Scarlet Letter. Happily, if there’s a discipline you enjoy above the others, you can live through those you don’t like as much. But, what if you hate the entire idea of going to school?

This is radical, I know. At St. Luke’s, our entire school day is structured around learning and enjoying the pursuit of knowledge. I have actually heard students say they love the APUSH textbook and that their CAS is the greatest thing ever. But, not every student in the world “enters to learn” at their school with a skip in their step and the Alma Mater in their heart. In truth, some people can’t stand learning. They hate it. Some people don’t want to go to college once they’ve made it through high school, simply because they don’t have a thirst for knowledge and can’t bear the idea of spending another four years struggling with academia.

So what do they do? Without a college degree, the world looks bleak, and entering the working world armed with the quadratic formula and a scant remembrance of the War of 1812 isn’t going to help you when you’re working as a technician or a plumber or a mechanic. You need to know whiNanterre_-_Lycée_professionnel_Louise_Michel_-_2ch wire will fix fuse boxesduring a thunderstorm, and how a car engine functions. This kind of education is equally important as the study of the digestive system or imperfect conjugations, but schools don’t teach practical skills for blue-collar work. At least, they don’t in America.

In France, students choose the type of high school they want to attend. They could go to a lycée générale, a college preparatory school, not dissimilar to St. Luke’s. They could attend a lycée technologique, which usually leads to careers that have to do with technology. Or, they could go to a lycée professionnel, which focuses on skills needed in professions. For example, students could learn skills to succeed as a plumber, a waiter, a secretary, or a chef. So, when the student graduates from their lycée professionnel, they’re equipped with skills that will allow them to perform well in their chosen profession.

Why don’t we have more lycée professionnels here? I think it’s time we took a leaf out of France’s book and start making such educational institutions a norm, as they are in France. And as we’re doing that, maybe we should also adopt their delicious food and fantastic fashion sense, but maybe that suggestion is for another article.

 

Megan Evershed, World News Editor

Posted by on January 28, 2015. Filed under Op-Ed. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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