Higher Learning in France Clings to Its Old Ways – New York Times:
In a speech at the Sorbonne in late April after the labor law was rescinded, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin pledged “a new pact between the university and the French people.”
Mr. de Villepin, a graduate of the École Nationale d’Administration, the grandest of the grandes écoles, promised more money and more flexibility, saying that as in the United States, a student with a master’s degree in philosophy should be able to become a financial analyst.
When a student asked him to explain how he proposed to do that, Mr. de Villepin had no concrete answer. Instead he talked about the “happiness of the dog that leaves its kennel.”
But flexibility is not at all the tradition in France, where students are put on fixed career tracks at an early age.
“We are caught in a world of limits where there’s no such thing as the self-made man,” said Claire de la Vigne, a graduate of Nanterre who is now doing graduate work at the much more prestigious Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. “We are never taught the idea of the American dream, where everything is possible. Our guide is fear.”
old learning to reproduce the old social system. much like in the u.s.