Monday, November 29, 2010

French Higher Education

A debate in the New York Times takes on French higher education. Basically, many of the writers say that universities in France and the Grands Ecoles as well, are "sclerotic" and unable to spark creativity.

I have replied in a comment:

Higher education is changing in France. There is a trend to greater independence in the universities and the Grands Ecoles. I have helped design and am now teaching in the École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique (EHESP) in new masters degree programs based on the "Anglo-Saxon" model. We are trying to make these programs more applicable to the "real world" where the students will eventually work and we are trying to change the way we teach to reflect the new generation of students and their needs and demands. In October, master teachers from the University of North Carolina Giillings School of Global Public Health met with their French counterparts from the EHESP for a two day intensive seminar on teaching methods. The topics included: the 'wired' student and social media, managing team based learning, and structuring curricula to match the competencies demanded in the workplace. This is just one example of how French institutions of higher learning are recognizing they need to compete more vigorously in a global market. It will take a lot of work to change the patterns of the past, but I see signs that the old order is crumbling. To give an example, on the agenda for the initial organizational meeting to design the master of public health curriculum was the question of which language to use for instruction. I expected a multi-hour debate and a series of polémiques. After no more than 10 minutes, the group of professors, all French, chose English. That, to me, is a strong sign of breaking with the past.

No comments:

Post a Comment