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!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Sister Act

Article as appears in the Herald, Ireland:

Tuesday May 04 2010
Sisters Suzanne and Karen O'Reilly (below) hail from Limerick. Suzanne left Ireland at 17 to au pair in France. Karen, a qualified accountant, followed her over in 2002.
"When I visited Suzanne in 2002 she was just setting up her own company and I jumped at the chance to join her. We ran the very successful property business, Bidsinfrance, for more than six years and then we diversified and set up The French Tour Co. Wine tours are our most popular. It's a fun day out and we visit three or four vineyards and dine with vineyard owners.
"We also run other tours for larger groups: adventure tours, art and history tours, even 'Why French Women Don't Get Fat' tours! About 40pc of our clients are Irish. They are by far the easiest clients, quicker to laugh, spend and enjoy themselves.
Being fluent in French helps, although we have come across some extremely difficult bureaucrats. France does not really follow Europe, so European laws can be flagrantly abused when it suits them. I would advise anyone thinking of moving here to set up a business to get fluent in the lingo"
Karen and Suzanne O'Reilly run the French Tour Co, They are currently writing a book, 'Wake up and Smell the Croissants'. Follow them on their blog

- Katie Byrne

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