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I believe that our system is more articulated along the lines of critical thought. You can say what you want, even if it outrages the teacher, as long as it is well-argumented.

A lot of people here believe that you have to flatter the teacher, but I know this one person, brilliant, who was so bored with his philosophy topic at the Baccalaureate that he wrote an Alexandrine poem (that adressed the topic). He got a 20/20, which is a normally impossible note to get in a literary topic (just out of principle they never give you a perfect grade).

I was also friends with this other person, this time in Classes Préparatoires, who at a written exam on "Human Nature" quoted a few lines from a rock group's most popular song and developed the main part of his paper around it. Now most people, all year along, had been focusing on learning classical quotes, ie. quoting the Greeks, quoting Descartes etc ... I gather the teachers were so tired of seeing the same quotes in everybody's texts, every year, that they gave my friend an excellent grade.

So originality is perfectly alright, and not going the teacher's ways is ok too ... in fact it's rather encouraged.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 03:27:07 AM EST
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I got 10/10 in my philosophy paper in the university entrance examination, so it can be done, even if the grader does not know you.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 04:00:41 AM EST
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Well I'm not familiar with the Spanish system, but here in France it's kind of rare (I think, will Jérome or Agnès or others agree?). It has something to do with France liking to punish its children.

My pickup is now 10 minutes late. What is the police doing?

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 04:07:21 AM EST
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I'd told that, especially in philosophy, that is an extremela rare ocurrance. But I also refused to accept the conventional wisdom that in humanities exams the more you write, the better. I used to write my answers short and to the point, and was done in about 2/3 pages when some of my classmates would write up to 10 in school exams. It sort of helps when the university access exam allows a maximum of 4 pages.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 05:43:02 AM EST
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Yup, when I chatted with my poli sci professor about grading, he said the essence of grading was to sniff out the best. The best ones, he said, were those which he can read "diagonally" (which in Japanese means from the top-right to the down-left) without bothering to read the entire stuff vertically.

I will become a patissier, God willing.
by tuasfait on Sun Mar 26th, 2006 at 08:22:38 AM EST
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