Someone once told me that the difference between a Frenchman and an American could be summarized like this:
"If you put a Frenchman and an American in the middle of a forest and asked them to find their way out, the French person would bend down, look at the soil for clues, look up to see which way the wind blew the trees and which way the sun was moving across the sky... in other words, the Frenchman would study his surroundings before making a move. On the other hand, the American would climb up the nearest tree, look around and holler: "HEY! Anyone out there?"
In general, because thankfully we cannot put a label on a whole country let alone a single person, the French are more methodical in their approach, trusting that they can find their way by themselves. Whereas Americans favor team work, and will go out on a limb to find a new way.
If you ask three hundred thousand French people, "Did you have fun (as in liked, enjoyed, considered it the best years ever...) school?" Two hundred and ninety-eight of them would answer solemnly, "No." Then they would look at you oddly, and ask, "Why?"
French students go to school to learn how to study. Fun is rarely in the equation. The first day of school they are taught to come into the classroom, sit at their desk quietly. They are not allowed to talk unless they are asked a question. If the teacher asks the students for a response, or "Who knows the answer?" The French child is suppose to raise their hand no higher than their shoulder, with their pointer finger in the air. Unlike an American student they cannot wave their arm frantically, and with excitement say, "I know, I know, ask me!!!!"
The French are taught from a very early age to sit still, listen, obey, and if in doubt re-think, and if you don't know the answer listen, and if you think you are right you probably are wrong.
Therefore, when they do know the answer they believe they are right. Their opinion is well thought out, they can back it up with an army of examples. They will listen to your arguments, your ideas, but in the end they believe they are never wrong.
An American student is taught they are the master of their universe, that they can accomplish whatever they want to do, as long as they believe it, work hard towards it and/ or have the money to get it.
The American and the French come from a very different upbringing, a different approach to education and a way to be. In France you rarely hear: "If there is a will there is a way!" Watching my children go through the French schools (K through University), listening to them talk about school, I know that I would have suffered greatly in their mold. Simply because I was raised to climb a tree, and believe in myself even if I didn't have a single example to back it up.
This is not say to either approach is better or worse than the other. Both have advantages. Both are worthy, and both ways of educating shape a different way of thinking.
In the end, the American who climbed the tree, and the Frenchman who studied the surroundings found their way... and both ways bring for an interesting conversation at the end of the day.