Moves are afoot to reconsider France's harsh grading system
WARY of competition when it comes to global markets, the French embrace it wholeheartedly in the classroom. As school pupils enjoy the end of their summer holiday, few will relish a return to their harsh grading system. Termly reports in secondary schools record pupils' marks, in Cartesian fashion, to the nearest two decimal points. Every child knows how they compare with the average. A result at the school-leaving baccalaureat exam of 16 out of 20 is considered outstanding. For younger children, a dictee to test spelling is marked by progressively deducting points for every error, which can crush the grade down to zero, or even into negative territory.
Benot Hamon, the education minister, thinks the system, at least for younger people, is too harsh. He argues that “in France we are defined by failure”, and this begins with poor grades. He wants schools to “stimulate instead of discourage” and to give pupils more positive feedback. Mr Hamon has launched a review of the national grading system. It is due to report early next year.
Mr Hamon's concern seems to be over the stress and anxiety that harsh grading inflicts on French schoolchildren, and the lack of confidence that this engenders in a country that is already excessively pessimistic. Fully 75% of the children say they worry about getting poor marks in maths, for example, according to a study by the Paris-based OECD think-tank—only just less than the figure of 78% in South Korea, and far above the 46% in Sweden.
Last year the education ministry reported on an experiment in middle schools, in which marks out of 20 were abandoned in favour of comments, or vague letter grades. Boys, the report noted, disliked a less competitive environment more than girls; stronger pupils disliked it more than weaker ones. But by creating less stress over failure, the report found, pupils were encouraged to take risks and participate in class, and often became more confident.
Curiously, it was parents rather than pupils who most resisted the absence of grades. They worried about over-protected children, and the difficulty of judging their progress. If Mr Hamon is to get anywhere, he may find that his biggest obstacle is pushy parents.
而奇怪的是，最反对模糊分数的不是学生，而是各位小朋友的家长。这些家长担心对孩子的过度保护会难以判断其长进。如果哈蒙部长随处看看，他或许会发现，其实教育中最大的改革就是这些爱出风头的固执父母。 翻译 周晓婷 校对 邵夏沁
1.return to 回到；返回
例句:Ford never desisted from trying to persuade him to return to America.
2.come to 苏醒；达到；来到
例句:There are thousands of students absolutely gagging to come to this university.
3.at least 至少；最低限度
例句:Try to eat at least four slices of bread a day.
4.want to 想去；想要
例句:When life gets hard and you want to give up, remember that life is full of ups and downs, and without the downs, the ups would mean nothing.