Auguste Rodin's, The Thinker
The Fulbright orientation in Paris gave all of us teachers lots to think about. We observed classes at the Lycée Paul Bert and then discussed our impressions with the principals and national educational inspectors.
What was most obvious is that the American and French educational systems are pretty different. The French system values clear, organized note-taking above all. Penmanship and presentation are important as well. Color-coding and alignment are emphasized in the younger grades.
The link to actual learning is that organized writing leads to organized thoughts and notes that one can actually consult when studying for tests. I get that, but there seems to be an undue amount of value given to this aspect, in my opinion.
I have fairly neat handwriting, but my students regularly scold me if they cannot understand what I have written. I have seen this not only in my own classroom but in Jed's as well. Students here learn to write in cursive in kindergarten so Jed's teacher is exasperated over his printing. Teaching him to write in cursive has become her mission for the year.
Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of teaching that I saw in the French classrooms, though. The English teachers were fluent and confident and dynamic, and their students responded well. I hope to have the same success with my own English classes this year, but I am not quite there yet.