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The only people complaining about the system are either those that know how it works but failed to get in, ot the smart weirdos like you and Agnes that like to think they're different - and better than the plodding prépa students they had to frequent...

<ducks behind wall to avoid objects thrown at him>

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 05:27:18 PM EST
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Ok that got me laughing out loud. My cover's blown.

But nahhhh I really didn't like prépa (even if I recognize the marvels it's done to my sense of organisation), if at least on the simple basis that everyone else our age was out having fun at University while we were pale and sweating in front of piles of obscure books, dreaming of girls (or boys) and frat parties!

by Alex in Toulouse on Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 05:33:49 PM EST
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The only people complaining about the system are either those that know how it works but failed to get in

Heh. But this implies, doesn't it, that it is by nature an elitist system? That is, there are large numbers of people not complaining, because they have no notion of how it works? For them all this is Mandarin, it might as well be going on in the Forbidden City.

The truth is that classes prépa/Grandes Ecoles form an efficient socio-economic filter. In almost all cases, the family (and its background) will decide that their child will (if capable, I agree) enter this system. In almost all cases, access to a good lycée is necessary, and the good lycées are for the upper stretches of the class structure. Detailed knowledge of an intricate system is necessary, and considerable expense of time and energy to work it. (This is why teachers' children may get in, as representatives of the lower middle class, because their parents are in a position to learn the rules of the game and push their kids in the right direction at every twist and turn).

This isn't a sour grapes reaction on my part. I went through the elitist system of another country, and my critique is simply the result of my observation of what happens in the French one.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 03:13:13 AM EST
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Oh I agree, and that's why I like the Sciences Po experiment: they don't dilute the admission criteria, but they go to "difficult" high school in underprivileges areas to explain to them that they can send students to them too, what is needed, and what is at stake. With aware and motivated students AND teachers, the results have been really good - and fully deserved. It's simply about getting people to actually know where the goalposts are, and how to give them a shot.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 04:27:51 AM EST
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Absolutely, the Science Po' experiment is a useful and necessary one. Not just on grounds of equity (though those are enough on their own), but on grounds of efficiency. The French system as it stands leaves a whole lot of capable people behind. There's too big a gap between the top level and the rest of the following field. There's an efficiency and creativity boom to be set off there. (And tapping into the energy of young people of immigrant origin would be positive in a number of ways).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 11:57:18 AM EST
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