The topic of grades is on my mind because I just finished a week of pastry making exams. I don't think I mentioned this... but back in September I started taking an evening course in pastry making. I began a paralel blog about that experience here: www.eatinginparis.com because the collection of crazy stories from that class clearly deserved their own place online. The various tests went well and I am now waiting until July 5th to get my results. If I score a 10/20 or higher I will have earned my Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle en Pâtisserie and be a State certified practitioner of pastry making.
In France you are pleased with a 10/20, happy with 12/20, thrilled with a 13/20 and anything over a 14/20 is going straight on to the fridge at home. If you get 10 or higher you can consider your grade a success, you have obtained the moyenne which is translates to the average and have therefore passed.
The fact that we use letters and they use numbers is interesting, but not that interesting. The real crux of the matter here is that from beginning the French are told that being average is realistic and a good thing, while Americans are told they are awesome, no make that awesome plus. This seemingly basic difference is in my opinion, the first crack in the cultural divide that separates our two societies. Acceptance of average and being told with brutal honestly that perfection is unobtainable, colors the way French people see things far beyond the years they spend in the classroom.
|My final exam presentation|
I would know because weather it is penises or pastries I, an American, am still unwilling to say out loud that I would be happy with la moyenne. I want a substantially above average grade for my pastries and fingers crossed I will get it.