Text 3 The purpose of higher education

Planning de la semaine du 23 mars


Séance 1:  Introduction and changes.   (text)

The main character is Chapter 11 but it’s his brother who tells the story. Chapter 11 is a student at college. His brother attends high school. Chapter 11’s brother says how his brother changes after 4 months at college (when he comes back at christmas).

 L1 to 29

1)Signs of Chapter 11’s transformation

Chapter 11 has changed :

He is fond of J.Lennon who has become his idol. He prefers music. He left behind maths and engineering. He let his hair grow. He did return for Thanksgiving

2)The symbolic meaning of the Ping Pong match

All his father’s attempts to win the match failed. Chapter 11 was too strong for his father. His father was growing old but Chapter 11 had more practice. That he beat his father is a symbolic meaning. It means that he killed his father symbolically, that he doesn’t need him, that he has reached adulthood and could manage his own life.

3)The characters’s relationships.

These signs are a way to express rebellion, protest and distrust to traditional and family values. All these signs of transformation caused some crisis at home. This is what we call the generation gap. There are few contacts and relations between parents and children. The conversations between mother and father are short and focused about Chapter 11’s transformation, which shows their worries.

 4) Why these changes

His contacts at college may help explain his attitude.The university is a place of diversity, exchange of ideas. He may have been influenced by people or students from college.

Séance 2: The purpose of higher education


5) Further changes and transformation

Chapter 11 confirmed his plan of dropping engineering for anthropology. Anthropology is a science which deals with peoples and focuses on their habits and history. He was wearing earth shoes which testifies his respect for the environment. He wants to live close to nature.

6)The characters’s relationships.

He is taking his family as an object  of research, case of study, recording their voices.


What is the role of universities?

 Universities can:

transmit a common culture and common standards of citizenship,

– contribute to economic growth,

– extend and deepen human understanding,

– teach different skills.

Students can…

– meet new people and come across new ways of thinking,

– enrich their culture,

– learn about other cultures

 For the parents, the purpose of university is to…

– enable their son to get a good job (becoming an engineer),

– equip Chapter Eleven to earn a living.

So it is a utilitarian purpose.

  • For Chapter Eleven, it is to…

– assert his personality. So it is pure learning / learning for its own sake

The passage is: Ironical: the situation is amusing because a transformation happens, the opposite of what the family expected / the description of Chapter Eleven is meant to make the readers smile.