Monday, March 12, 2012

Les Devoirs - Homework in France

We are learning about the french education system as we go along, and with one daughter in école primaire, we're getting a taste of what 'bigschool' will be like for our kids going forward.
Their school day is long - my 6 year old starts at 8h20 and finishes at 17h00. There is the option to drop your kids into school at 07h30 with child minding facilities until 19h00 in the evening. Blooming fantastic for all working parents and makes perfect sense really rather than paying an arm and a leg for childcare as is the case in Ireland. 
So, she finishes at 17h00 and comes home to start "Les Devoirs" ie The Homework (cue psycho music). She's pretty tired after her long day and then has to face into at least an hours homework, most of it learning stuff off by rote and dictation. Flipping nightmare.
Clair, a translator and web copywriter who lives in Normandy, has a 7 year old in CE1 ( second class ) :  "He works really hard at school but is tired when he gets home and really doesn't want to do it - and nor do I really! He gets maths and spellings to learn for the next day - his worst nightmare despite him being very bright!"
Every single thing they do is marked and ranked within the class, including their Physical Education. It's all to do with your moyen ( average mark) and you must have a decent moyen to pass into the next year. Redoubling ( staying back a year) is common and not frowned upon.
They do dictée ( dictation) from age 6 right through to age 16!!! Dictée at age 16!
Your handwriting must be attaché ( joined ), even at aged 6 and there is only one way to write ( everyone in France has the same handwriting) . If your writing is too large, it is WRONG. Marks (out of 20) are taken off for every little mistake. 
Now , some might argue that dictée is a good thing , particularly in this day and age where ppl cn only spk n txt spik, YKWIM? - Writing and spelling properly is très important and I agree. Yet there should also be some room for creativity and free expression as well.
400 people turned up this week in Perpignan at the Palace des Expositions for a dictée in Catalan, just for the fun of it. A text was especially written for them by Joan Tocabens, a famous Catalan author from Perthus and their results will be posted on the 4th April at the théâtre de l’Archipel.
I can think of better ways to spend my Sunday afternoon !!! The French, will we ever understand them and will they ever understand us????
PS : Please feel free to correct any spelling mistakes!


  1. SPOT on. I now pay someone to come in and help with the homework as it is beyond me and you find as they get older they lie about what homework they actually have because they are sick of it too!

  2. I got my kids to do homework in étude after school. It means they get it done out of my sight and when they come home they can get on with playing and having fun.

    When I tried homework at home it was a nightmare and totally ruined the evening with my son in a temper etc etc, so it was back to étude and peaceful evenings.

  3. Thanks Sarah and anon, that may be the way to go for me as I have zero patience!!


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