Thursday, May 13, 2010

In France - the three Rs

Having two small children in France, we are , of course very interested in what the French education system is going to offer our budding little Einsteins. My two are only aged 4 and 2 so my exposure ( which has been very positive)  has been limited so far to La Maternelle, which the kids here attend from age 2 to 6.
They then move on to CP ( Ecole Primaire ) from age 6 to 11 , Collège from age 11 to 15 and finally Lycée to study for their Bac from the age of 15 to 18. In all, the kids will attend 4 different institutions before they go out into the Big Bad World. Complicated? Mais Bien Sur, this is La France!!

It's hard to tell whether the education system is better here in France than it would be in Ireland. When I went to school in éire, it was very academically driven and if you weren't able to regurtitate the works of Shakespeare and nonsense like Peig Sayers, you were destined to become a hair dresser. I believe that the system in éire is now more flexible with a more practical approach and less of an emphasis on academia.

However, in france, the birthplace of great thinkers and philosphers, painters and dreamers, there are certain aspects about the French educational system that worry me - the main one being, conformism :

Everybody in France has the same handwriting - don't you find that weird?
From the age of two, all work done by a child is marked and ranked in the class. As you get older, you are ranked nationally for your work. Fine for the high achievers, but spare a thought for the poor dyslexic child you comes last in France every time....
There is very little sport, arts, music or drama ( unless you go to a specialised school)
Original thought appears to be a mortal sin or certainly a sending to the "coin" offence

That harry Chapin song may well have been written about the french educational system :

Flowers are Red young man and Green leaves are green,
there's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

But the little boy said
There are so many colours in the rainbow
So many colours in the morning sun
So many colours in the flower
And I see everyone

Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me.....

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

Franchement, It's a bit of a worry!!


  1. Hi karen I love the new blog, very interesting angles. the real stuff is always more juicy

  2. Hi Karen - Likewise, love the blog!

    You don't seem to have commenting enabled from this post on? I wanted to comment on your 10 things France does best post.

    Perhaps there's a reason?

    All the best



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