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The Principal's Speech


SaligoBay

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For me, the best way to learn about the French psyche (if you'll excuse the pretentiousness) has been watching my son going through the education system.  What I mean is, when you see the influences on the children, you can see how they become French Adults.

Last night we sat through short presentations by all his 6eme teachers, and a looonnngggg lecture by Monsieur le Principale.

He was very good, but oh so French!  Lots of talk about the importance of children being autonome, able to organise their timetable and their lives effectively (sounded more like preparation for an MBA or something).   Plenty mention of punishment and justice (although justice doesn't really exist, he said).  And again, my favourite one, "if you don't suffer now, how can you appreciate good things later".

They have to learn to look after themselves.  Teenagers express themselves with aggression.  Deal with it.

90% of French school-leavers will have smoked at least one joint.  C'est pas grave.  If there's money, there'll be drugs.  Deal with it.  Cut the apron strings, don't dramatise it.

He was actually very down-to-earth, and I enjoyed listening to him.  But you know, even though I think it's a good collège, and I have no problems with it, it's really a bit depressing to be told that the children should already be thinking about their brevet, then la vie lycéenne, then la vie active after that.   My son was TEN last month, it's sad to think that this kind of pressure is on them already.

There, now that I've bored you all rigid, I'm off to Intermarché.   And no, I don't know what my point is either.  I'm just a bit perplexed.  Again.

Edit to say I've just realised what my point is!  It's the lack of optimism about the future that I don't like, the assumption that life WILL be a struggle, you will HAVE to fight hard to achieve even a basic standard of living. 

Where's the revolutionary spirit?  

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I can see your point SB but on the other hand, by contrast (with the UK) where children seem to have their 'hand held' all the way through school, many young people seem to be oblivious to the fact that one day:-

1.  They will be expected to go to work. 

2.  Full time education does not go on forever.

3.  The work may not be to their liking.

4.  Quite often you can expect to start at the bottom of an organisation and have to work your way up.

5.  They will not take home a large proportion of their pay.

6.  They may have large debts to repay if they have been to university.

7.  If living at home they will be asked to make a contribution for their keep.

 

I'm sure there are others, but I think a lot of kids these days have very unrealistic expectations of life.  If the kids in your son's collège take any of the principal's advice, this may better prepare them for what lies ahead.  Perhaps I would see what he said as more realistic rather than pessimistic.

Musicmonkey

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It's just an attitude that permeates throughout.

I see comments on this forum and others along the lines of "the French wouldn't put up with xyz", but in fact the French put up with an awful lot, and I think it's because they're taught from an early age to just accept that life is hard, and there's no suggestion that things could possibly be better.

How many Gallic shrugs have you seen accompanied with "c'est les impots, ça monte et il faut payer, kesstuveux" or "la vie est comme ça, on est mal payé, kesstuveux".

I just feel that I'm seeing reactionary rather than revolutionary. 

My French neighbour said the other day "considering that France is one of the richest countries in the world, it's a national disgrace that there are so many people living in poverty in France".   And this is part of what I'm not getting - if it's such a rich country, how come people are (generally) so badly paid?    If productivity is so high, why are so many workers on the minimum wage, why are they not reaping the benefits of the high productivity?  

You're absolutely right about Britkids, but at least they get to travel in hope, non? 

Dunno!  Thank you for replying anyway.

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I'm going to look at this another way. I'm surprised too that he was talking about going to lycée est in a 6eme speech (maybe he has just the one and trots it out every time) or maybe it's a school with a "reputation" and it what the parents expect. My principal doesnt mention lycées in her 'welcome to 6eme' speech. I did go on a bit about them with my 3emes, but I think that's understandable.

But, from what I've seen from teaching in France, French teenagers are babied quite a lot. Parents expect you to understand that a 13 year old couldn't do his homework because he was 'tired'. My son is the same age as SB's (10) and I expect him to note down what homework he's got and for when correctly. Not the case with some of my pupils' parents. I once punished a pupils because a test wasn't signed (she knew that all tests had to be signed, I had told the class to note it in their cahier de textes, it was in January so it wasn't the first time, I had already checked and given her another day to do it in) Her mother came to the school, demanded that the CPE fetch me from a lesson (she refused) and told me that it was all totally her fault and that I should punish her instead of her daughter.

Maybe, I've turned into a French teacher without realising it. But I don't think that kind of attitude does anybody any favours

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Just read your edit.

I see what you mean. Life is going to dfficult, collège is going to be difficult. Each year we start with the words "this is the hardest year in collège" (I said that this year and one parent  pointed out that she'd been told the same thing the year before)just wait til you get to lycée, then you'll see what difficult means.... 

School isn't supposed to be fun it isn't supposed to produce well rounded little indidviduels. It's supposed to transmit knowledge. In a way, the fact that the principal adlitted that there was a life after school is very encouraging. A lot of teachers don't want what they are teaching to have any relation to real life (sorry if I'm being negative today, the knee-jerk reactions to the Thelot report annoyed me)

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.  They will be expected to go to work. 

2.  Full time education does not go on forever.

3.  The work may not be to their liking.

4.  Quite often you can expect to start at the bottom of an organisation and have to work your way up.

5.  They will not take home a large proportion of their pay.

6.  They may have large debts to repay if they have been to university.

7.  If living at home they will be asked to make a contribution for their keep

 

Re 2) Do you realise how long kids study in France. It literally can go on for years and years and they can be in their mid twenties before getting their degrees, not as mature students, just plodding on and on and one.......and the parents pay, so it isn't the child who ends up in debt, so I've covered 6) too.

The rest, well sec comme ça, there doesn't seem much difference, but kids in the UK stand a far better chance of getting a proper job at a much younger age, in debt or not.

 

 

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[quote]For me, the best way to learn about the French psyche (if you'll excuse the pretentiousness) has been watching my son going through the education system. What I mean is, when you see the influences o...[/quote]

"I don't know what my point is either. I'm just a bit perplexed, again"

Been reading too many Jaques Derrida obits SB?. It'll be a while before you even think you know anything for sure again.

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A certain level of testing is always important in order to assess children's learning and also inform future planning. My main gripe with regards to the English system has been the testing of 7 year olds. As far as the publication of SATS results is concerned, this has served to create selection by mortgage, whereby if you can afford to live in the catchment area there's a place for you in the school. The "Freedom" of choice that Blair talks about simply serves to provide more choice for the middle class. I'm no big fan of the French eduaction system. As a teacher, I know how difficult it is for an English teacher to teach in France (with a CDI)without having to pass the CAPES. According to EU law, if you're qualified in one member state this HAS to be recognised by all other member states. For the moment this doesn't appear to apply to France. That's why I chose the international system and I can't see myself wanting to change track.
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But the KS2 tests have gone - to be replaced by teacher assessment. Or tests administered in normal lessons.

I think you are a bit unfair about league tables - there were a lot of rotten schools out there that needed a good kick into life - I used to see the differences when the kids came up to secondary. You also need to remember (in your casual Blair bashing) that it was Margaret Thatcher's government which introduced Key Stage tests (we don't have SATs in England, as the trademark owners in the USA have pointed out) and that they were very popular with parents.

Do you teach in the UK then?
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I'm teaching in an International School in France, but spent 6 years teaching in the UK. The KS1 tests have gone, to be replaced by teacher assessment, but the KS2 tests are still very much in place as they are for KS3. I agree that there were many sloppy schools out there and there still are. Many governement strategies that I used to resent implementing in England, where they were compulsory, I now dip into on a regular basis as I'm beginning to see the value that they hold.

The Blair government has done an awful lot of good in education. The problem with league tables is that it makes it very difficult for schools in some of the more disadvantaged areas to hold on to good teachers, as their relative achievements are often overshadowed by those of schools with a completely contrasting intake, who are often supported by private tutors. I've taught in the inner-city and a village C of E school and can honestly say that the standard of teaching was often much better in the inner city school.

Value-added scores are now produced but it's still those final test results that have the biggest impact.

I appreciate that this response might be better suited to the education section or perhaps even a message board about UK teaching, but I did mention the word "France" in my opening sentence.

Where do you teach, Dick? Which subject?

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Second attempt - the server went off when I tried to post last time.

I stand corrected on KS1 tests, and that's the second time I've made that mistake today, destroying all credibility.

I used to teach history/pastoral head/gifted and talented co-ordinator at an inner-London comp, now working at the DfES.

You are right in what you say - but parents do seem to like league tables. You can see that from some of the posts here, where people want to know about 'good schools' in a particular area. But its hard on schools in deprived areas (we are making funding 'follow disadvantage' now, which makes sense).

And VA - although the DfES method of calculating it is criticised and may not be too accurate.

Inner city schools often teach extremely well, Birmingham, parts of London and Liverpool come to mind. Certainly far better than some leafy suburbs (including the one I live in). Do you remember 'être et avoir'? A charismatic teacher, but there was b*****r all challenge to those kids - he'd get shot by Ofsted - for the colouring in if nothing else!
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I loved the film, but have to agree that OFSTED would have hung him up to dry. I'm now working in an International school (which is private) and would have to say, based on my personal experience, that the standard of teaching is certainly no better in the private sector than it is in the public sector. I'm sure that parents pay huge fees or take on huge mortgages in order for their children to avoid having to make contact with certain "undesirables"!

Teaching outside of the UK has certainly enabled me to appreciate much of the good work that is going on in UK schools. I firmly believe that our teachers are extremely committed and well trained. Can't say I miss the mountain of paperwork, though!!

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CJB,

So if you work in the private sector - you don't need the CAPES! Your UK QTS stands then.  It is a bug bear that the UK teaching qualification does not migrate in France, I believe the CAPES migrates to the UK - 'tis not fair!

French Teachers scare me, but I have met some really good ones.

>>>>

Going back to the thread my daughter is in the Grande Section Maternelle and loves her school, but I am very jumpy for the future.  All that pressure and limited job prospects.  I want my  children to have a good education and to have choices.

I went to an International school (higher education) and there are alot of messed up kids, no status/roots  etc.  They felt odd, but of course there were the successful ones as well.

So I dont think I will put my kids through secondary education here in France, but that is my view now - things do change!

Deby

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The problem with non-French teaching qualifications in France is that, in France teachers in the state system are also civil servants. They have taken a competitive civil service exam. Teaching qualifications from other Europeans countries  would be recognised in the private sector and in the state sector for non civil service jobs (unfortunately, that means CDI's)

For information, a French teacher with the CAPES who leaves France to work in another European country (on the basis of having a French teaching qualification) looses civil servant status and would have to retakie the CAPES if he wanted to go back to teaching in France.

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