In the fifth chapter of “Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong,” the authors relate their experiences with the value of rhetoric in France. It is referred to early on in the chapter as “the treasured art of the French.” More than being about persuasion or public speaking, it is about eloquence. This is something that French children begin learning even before they attend school, but once they are old enough to go to school it is emphasized even more heavily. In France, “students are taught to produce plans for their compositions, and are graded on them.”
This concept is entirely foreign to me, as I was never even taught how to properly write essays. My first such assignment was in sixth grade, but we were given only a topic and a deadline, without explanation of what was expected as a final product. Once I got to junior high and high school, the teachers assumed we had already learned how to produce an essay and never taught the mechanics of writing. In fact, very little time overall was spent on building writing or speaking skills. From what the authors write in this chapter, I get the impression that this would never happen in France, as education on the art of rhetoric sounds very strictly regimented and is culturally, socially, and politically very important.
Culturally, this difference becomes apparent in conversation: Americans often find the conversational style of Europeans to be rude because, as noted in the chapter, “we instinctively seek complicity and understanding.” The French, specifically, are more comfortable with competitive conversations that might even be construed by Americans as aggressive, because “the French seek wit and intelligence, qualities born of confrontation.”
I like how you explained the difference between the American and French ways of speaking. Since the French seek wit and Americans seek understanding, it's easy to see misunderstandings can happen.
I completely agree! We did not learn much about writing when we were in school, yet we were expected to know it. If we took classes in France, I assume that learning how to write would be completely different.
Great use of quotes to benefit your point, it is so true how we can be offended by challenging conversations while the French do this to grow intellectually
I love how you touched on the fact that French people seems to be more comfortable with competitive conversations. Americans see those type of topics as personal attacks when in all reality, they're just trying to talk.
In this chapter of "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong", they discuss how the schools in France teach rhetorical skills. Having these rhetorical skills in France are very important, it is treasured like the way the British value theatre or singing for Italians. This skill of persuasion and oratory is something the French consider to be something the French need to learn. So much that they teach it in school systems and have classes to teach this. This is very different from America, here we don't have classes to teach a specific skill like that. These skills are meant to be developed and taught while going through all of your academic classes.
Americans might not have rhetorical skills classes, but we do have English and speech classes that teach the art of good communication. I think Americans expect different things from their conversations, like understanding. But the French teach their children to seek out wit in their conversations. Both are different but both people (the French and American) are well spoken.
I do agree that far less emphasis is placed on these specific skills in the United States. While we do usually take a speech class and English composition in high school, these are just some of the many requirements for graduation and these skills can easily fall by the wayside since they are not treated as any more important than the other classes required.
You're definitely right about America and how we teach specific skills is different than France. Like you said we tend teach these while we go through academic levels.
In this chapter of “Sixty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong”, the authors emphasize the importance of rhetoric as well as their own experiences of rhetoric during their time there. Learning and using Rhetoric is very important to the French culture for many reasons, the first would be to understand the art of persuasion. This is ever apparent in their school system, kids are learning the basics of rhetoric and how to write formal essays even before they learn certain basic math and science. On the other side of the ocean, Canadians and Americans are never introduced until the late elementary grades, in my instance, I did not know how to build a basic argument essay until grade 8. I am not surprised that the French care so much about rhetoric as they value elegancy and intelligence. For example, some conversations that could be considered aggressive or unnecessary are more common in France because they believe in the qualities that come from confrontation. This chapter further describes the intellectual differences between ourselves and the French people, which I find quite fascinating.
Your point about the value of elegance is a good connection to the concepts introduced in an earlier chapter dealing with the idea of grandeur and its importance in French culture. The natural first step toward presenting oneself and one's nation with the elegance that the French value so much is learning to express ideas in an eloquent fashion.
I agree that it is fascinating to learn about other countries' education systems and how much they differ from our own. In some countries, the differences are barely noticeable, but in others, there is quite a large difference.
I experienced the same thing where I didn't learn how to properly build an argument essay until later grades. Also I agree that the importance rhetoric is huge in France.
In the chapter “The Art of Eloquence,” authors Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau explain the value of rhetoric in French culture. The art of good communication is a prized skill and is taught at a young age in France. The authors write that during elementary school, children are taught the model of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. This model is used when making an argument. As a kid growing up in America, the model is similar but contrasts in some ways. For the most part, English skills were honed during high school years not elementary school, and we were taught to follow the intro-body-conclusion method. The authors write that so much focus is given to oral skills that there are heavy competitions on a student's ability to speak well, especially when flustered. They also write the Americans do not value verbal reasoning as much as the French do. As an American, I think this statement is both true and false. Americans do highly value articulation. We have clubs in high school that focus on speaking skills. More and more colleges require entrance essays and standardized tests have whole portions dedicated to reading and writing. The French seem to take it to another level in that oral skills seem to be the focal point of their education. The French take pride in their ability to be a well spoken people. It permeates every part of their education which results in a people able to articulate their thoughts in an intelligible manner.
I 100% agree with how you said that you find the point they made about how Americans do not value verbal reasoning as much as the French. To some extent thats true, for example if you're loud and aggressive enough people will listen even if what you say is inaccurate. But on the other hand we do have clubs/classes that focus on these things.
As I read chapter 6 of “60 Million Frenchman Can’t be Wrong”, a few things stuck with me. The first is that the French really value their education. The second is that they stress the importance of rhetoric, or writing skills and abilities, to children in school. This makes more sense than the United States’ education system. Here, we are not fully taught how to write. Instead, we are told to write and what to write about, and then we are expected to be able to produce a flawlessly written essay and “learn from our mistakes”. French children are taught how to write and use their language properly before they are taught to do anything else academic related. Personally, I wish that American culture would adopt the French’s academic perspectives and norms. They are very well educated and quick-witted people, and I could imagine that it would be interesting to hear a conversation that French people would have with each other because of this. I assume that children were not forced to write a certain way about a certain topic. There is probably more creativity allowed in their writings, and as a result, would lead them to hold better conversations and think faster as adults. Rhetoric is important in United States’ education system, but it is not stressed as early or as intensely as it is in France. It would be much more beneficial to take an grammar class in France than it would to take one in the United States.
Great points on the difference of education between the United States and France, as well as giving your own insight
In this chapter the authors spoke on how in the french culture, it is valued and instilled from a young age to be able to convey your thoughts on paper as well as verbally. There is a certain structure things should be in and they (the teachers/professors) make this known at an early age. Opposed to here in America, you roughly get an outline of how you can organize a paper but mostly its up to you. At least that was my experience; the first time I was shown how to write a paper was in third grade. I use "shown" very loosely because my teacher said something to the terms of "Some people write like this but you dont have to" and then throughout my school career, nobody showed me how to do it again. Rhetoric skills are valued in America though, but not until later in ones school career. I think having this value instilled at such a young age has the potential to create more intellectual, articulate, and better conversationists.
In chapter six of “Sixty million Frenchmen can’t be wrong”, one main topic emphasized by the authors is the importance of rhetoric and personal experience for people during their time. The emphasis of having a good rhetorical skill is on every level of society in France. At a young age they’re taught to follow a dialectic model of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. When French people argue they tend to follow this model closely and as the authors state, they can talk about a single issue for hours. For me as an American, at a young age I was only taught the basics of grammar and how to form sentences along with multiple other subjects. Compared to the French where they are being taught how to create formal essays over other subjects. This goes along with what we’ve been learning in class and while reading the book. France and the U.S. have different techniques and ways to complete things because of each other’s different history/past.