Differences in Global Education Systems

Photo of Matthieu Rouffet.

Professor Matthieu Rouffet, who teaches in the science department at Point Loma Nazarene University, has experienced many cultural and academic changes having been born and raised in France, around an hour outside of Paris.   

Rouffet said that the hardest thing about teaching in a country he was not raised in is understanding the culture and realizing what can be expected from students given the broad and diverse high school experiences. 

“It is not necessarily hard to study who my students are but it is not natural to me and takes effort. The accent can sometimes be challenging but personally, I have learned to accept it and repeat myself more often to make sure my students understand what I say,” Rouffet said. 

First-year Pre-Nursing major, Tomas Bergmann, who lived in France for a year and a half said,  “The work ethic in France is different from America. America values efficacy while France values quality. They each value different types of effort. One is not greater than the other.” 

Senior Finance and Accounting major, Carissa Patel who is of Indian descent said that only those in the middle and upper class can be educated since it’s so expensive.

“If you do go to school and you are rich, then you don’t have to work as hard because you already have money. I think students there definitely work harder because they are learning more intensive work at a young age,” Patel said. 

Rouffet explained that colleges in France do not have much of a campus experience like they do in the US. According to Rouffet, students in France are very hard workers and are very dedicated to taking classes and studying more than anything else. 

“While this might have changed in the last decade, college professors tend to lecture to large audiences rather than engage students with engaging activities yet, in order to help students, our schedule includes recitation sessions where a small group of students can interact with the professor on a more personal basis,” Rouffet said. 

Third-year Writing major, Grace Ann Bloom, who has been to India multiple times for missionary work, said, “ From what I saw, education in India is a level harder than for American students because there is pressure placed on kids their entire lives to work hard for university or go straight into trade work after graduation from secondary school. A lot of studying is done and laziness isn’t tolerated in school or familial settings. There are lots of young children with the most important thing on their mind being ‘school’ and even kids pulling all-nighters studying.”

In France, there is no such thing as having a college sports team. PLNU students enjoy going to sporting events and cheering on their school but, sports in France are mostly done outside of the University system. 

Another major difference between the US education system in comparison to France is the importance of finals week. In France, there is typically only one exam that counts to pass a class. Since the fate of one test can determine a grade in a class, an A can be very difficult to get in France. Rouffet said another difference in French education system is that “GE’s are actually taken in high school and not in college.” 

Although Professor Rouffet misses French food and some “good old French humor,” getting to know his students and talking about life with them has been one of his  favorite parts of his job. 

“I love teaching and being in the classroom every day and I equally love being in my lab doing drug discovery research with my students over the summer. For me, I feel blessed to not only teach about a topic I am passionate about but do that in a faith-based environment and hopefully mentor students along the way,” Rouffet said.

By: Fiona Rasak