During the past week of school, I have been teaching the kids about the US education system and a typical day in the life of an American elementary school student. Now I’ve been inspired, and I am going to tell all y’all about the day in the life of a French elementary school student based on my observation & inquiries. For the record, I am in two elementary schools just on the outskirts of Grenoble in La Tronche and Meylan. They are considered to be some of the more affluent communities in the area.
With that said, I was pretty surprised at the lack of technology in both of my schools. In one, there are video projectors in every room but no internet connection so it’s not possible to look up photos or videos on the spot. I’m learning to come overly prepared with photos loaded onto my USB Drive. In my other school, there is only one classroom equipped with a video projector so I have to take every class in there to do a presentation. I realize that I came from an affluent community where technology is a huge part of everyday in the classroom so maybe my perspective is skewed, but a video projector seems like a pretty basic tool to have.
In French elementary schools, the kids have school from Monday to Friday, with half days on Wednesdays plus one other half day during the week. Both of my schools happen to have their second half day on Thursdays, but that’s just a coincidence. Kids also get two 15 minute recesses throughout the day as well as a 2 hour lunch. Some eat whatever the school is serving in their “cantine” which is gourmet compared to American schools, and some go home to eat lunch. In one of my schools I have gotten to eat the cantine lunch a couple of times, and I’ve been pretty impressed. They have included some delicious meat and potatoes, sliced cucumbers, sweet pears for dessert, and of course always baguette and cheese. The kids only get one option for what they will eat, and it seems to always be a relatively healthy, balanced meal.
In my presentations, the kids are especially baffled by the concept of uniforms in private schools. There are private schools in France, but no uniforms. I’ve been asked why uniforms exist, what the students do when it gets cold outside, why in the world girls wear ties, and whether or not every class wears a different uniform so that you can tell them apart. Pretty funny.
The level of english speaking in my schools varies a ton depending on the class and depending on the specific students which has proven to be a pretty big challenge for me thus far. I can tell some teachers really prioritize english as a subject while some can hardly speak it themselves, and therefore choose to play a song in english and call it a day. Some kids have trouble understanding my american accent because the recordings they hear in class are of British speakers which I find pretty interesting. Another point of frustration for me has been that some of the teachers insist that I speak only english. This is of course the best way for kids to learn the language, but I’ll often give instructions in english and get absolutely no response. I’m one of the more impatient people I know so maybe this is just God’s way of telling me I need to work on that…
In other news, this past week we had wi-fi installed in our apartment, I had another delicious meal made by the TAs from Italy and Jordan, finished up my administrative tasks, and went on a beautiful hike: Gresse-en-Vercors.
First vacation begins tomorrow…updates to come!