Wednesday, December 16, 2009

C'est la France...

The last couple weeks have been pretty low-key, just business as usual in Toucy. That was until yesterday, when the students blockaded the entrance of the school...

Ok, now I may have made that sound more dramatic than what really happened, but let me explain. I went down to the teachers' room to make some copies for my 9:15 a.m. class to find a normally vacant room full of teachers jabbering away. I find out from Kathi that, in protest of the new education reforms proposed by the government, every student was standing at the front gate refusing to go to their first class of the day (which starts at 8:15 a.m.). Now the teachers and students called this action a "blocus," or literally translated, "blockade." When I walked down to the front gate to see for myself just what was going I was hoping to see chanting teens with large signs and maybe a bonfire or two... I was utterly disappointed. They were just standing there, chatting to each other like it was a normal break period from class. Their action wasn't even very effective as they moved aside to let teachers and other various administrators onto campus. I stood there in bewilderment for a while at this "blockade" until the bell rang signaling the end of first period class and the 5 minutes the students had to get to their following class. This then became the strangest demonstration I have ever seen when, at the sound of the bell, the students dispersed and headed for class. I mean, how does that work??? "Ok so guys we're gunna protest until second period but then we have to go to class, I can't get another tardy or my mom will KILL me." The teachers didn't know this was happening but none of them seemed upset. In fact, just a couple weeks ago there was a strike by the teachers in protest of the same reforms and half of the them didn't show up to teach class one day. Once in class, I asked my students what it was all about, but more importantly, if there were going to be any more "blockades." One student said yes there will be more, but they haven't yet planned when that would be, perhaps first period after lunch. I offered to give him a copy of my teaching schedule and volunteered any of my class periods as prime demonstration times... We'll see if they take the bait.

As for what they were protesting, it's very complicated and I'm still not exactly sure. I picked up one of the fliers from a student and it was difficult to sift through the yellow journalism-esque writing to get to the facts. The writer was trying to convince the reader that if these reforms were allowed to pass, the French school system would turn into "scholarly ghettos" and lead to "educational sterilization." Pretty over dramatic if you ask me. I did find that the Board of Education wants to make history an option, as opposed to an obligatory class, and they want to do away with an organization that gives orientation to new teachers on how to survive in the French education system. Neither one sounds like a huge change to me, but change in France is constantly being cried out for while at the same time protested against. If only they spent a little time in the US I think they couldn't help but be content with what they have. God forbid they payed a dime out of pocket for their schooling!

Soon I will put up pictures of Christmas around Toucy, but I'm holding out for just a little bit longer in case it keeps snowing, it just started today and it's awesome. More updates to come...

1 comment:

  1. You exaggerate , every student doesn't be like you say.Some of us are very implicated , and may be we speak each other , but it was about the "blocus" .. You are slanderous !
    I hope you say good things about us too.. =D , or else I would be disappointed ..^^
    Mélanie G.