Random Thoughts and Observations

It has been quite some time since I last blogged…over a month. Oops. Since my last post, I have been on a couple little adventures as well as a rather big one – another french academic break means another trip for me 🙂 This post is mostly going to include more observations I’ve made while living in France and traveling around, and then there will be a couple posts about my most recent trip to come!

When I am in Grenoble, I have a lot of free time. I spend 12 hours/week teaching, 4 hours/week tutoring (soon to be 5!), and the rest of my time eating, reading, working out (aka beating my friend Ily in basketball), lesson planning, watching Netflix, figuring out where I want to go next, and also thinking. I have an ample amount of time to just sit down and think, reflect on my time, make observations on life in France and then write down those thoughts. So this post is dedicated to sharing those thoughts with you guys…

On French Education:

  • French primary schools (or at least mine) don’t really have faculty besides teachers and paras. The principals also act as teachers, and they don’t have school counselors or nurses. From what I’ve observed, this not only leads to problems with discipline and conflicts, but one of my schools is also currently having issues with a parent whose kid got hurt at recess. She is claiming that they did not take proper care of him (which how were they supposed…they can’t just leave a class full of kids to take care of one), and he now needs dental care because of it. Yikes!
  • The classes in primary school here are split into 2 levels. So it would like a class of half 4th graders and half 5th graders in the U.S. The teacher has to cater to each level individually. So they give the 5th graders their work, then they separately give the 4th graders their work. I’ve never actually observed this so maybe it sounds great, but it seems pretty inefficient to me.
  • When teachers are gone for a day or two, my schools hardly ever get a substitutes. They take the absent teachers classes and split them up into all the different classrooms around the school. Again, I don’t fully understand how they make this work, but it seems like a waste of a school day for those kids.

Keep in mind that these observations are only based on my two schools so the could be false for other schools in France. At the same time, my schools are in wealthy areas of Grenoble and are supposed to be some of the best schools.

Continuing on…

On kids:

  • I’ve noticed, and several of my teachers have also commented on the fact that kids are losing respect for authority. I’ve witnessed some kids screaming at their teachers… Maybe this is also a trend in the U.S.? I wouldn’t be surprised.
  • They eat way healthier. I’ve talked about the cantine at school already and how it’s so much healthier than in the U.S. From what I’ve observed, kids here don’t have any trouble eating their veggies, and they enjoy other more sophisticated foods like fish.
  • They seem to be less obsessed with technology and TV which is refreshing. The kids I tutor are creative and they can easily entertain themselves sans TV, video games, etc.

On other random things:

  • You have to pay for bags in grocery stores here, and it is completely the norm to bring your own bags. I’m in the habit of it now, and it makes so much sense. Do it people!
  • France has a nationwide sale in stores called the Soldes. Basically the entire month of February stores in France have big sales…pretty sweet!

Alright well that’s all I’ve got for now! Stay tuned for updates on my trip to Innsbruck, Hallstatt and Amsterdam!

Hope all is well across the pond 🙂







2 thoughts on “Random Thoughts and Observations

  1. Your three elementary school observations are spot on. I’ve now worked in 4 in France and 1 in the US and find the different approaches to administration and staffing so weird. In the US, we have separate specialists for subjects like PE, art, and foreign language, but in France it’s the classroom teacher who has to do it all!

    The mixed level thing I also find pretty inefficient like you said. I’ve only seen it in really small schools where the student population isn’t necessarily big enough to justify having separate classes, but it still must be so weird for the teachers. One of my schools in Marseille has two mixed CP/CE2 classes, so not even adjacent levels!!

    Also yes, I think the substitute thing is crazy as well!!! My schools will usually get subs if the absence is recorded in advance, like if the teachers have a formation or a medical problem or something. But for emergencies it’s rare. It’s so crazy to me that it’s so common that all of my colleagues hang a sign on their door with the list of répartition des élèves!


    1. I’m so glad we’re on the same page…I talk to some of my french friends about this and they don’t understand why I think this stuff is strange/backwards. There are so many wonderful things about France…reasons I would want to live there…but the education system is not one of them after this experience.


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