Wednesday, 19 November 2014

State of affaires

Bonjour mes ami(e)s
Yes, I am still here in the south of France. Nothing much has changed since my last post, but here is a short update.
I am now in my third year working part-time at the local college, helping children with behavioral and /or learning difficulties. The future for the French education system looks pretty grim. Cutbacks, followed by promises of more teaching staff, hints of a chance of permanent contracts for people in precarious posts like mine. The latter is extremely unlikely for all but a few. Tomorrow there is to be a big demonstration in Toulouse. It is clear that something has to be done. Teachers are already stretched and proposed changes to their working hours / conditions will only make an unhappy bunch of people even more unhappy.
Even in the few years that I have worked in primary and secondary education over here, there has been a noticeable deterioration in the behavior of the pupils. Classes with 5 or 6 constantly disruptive pupils now seems to be the norm. The parents of these children say that their kids behave the same way at home "Qu'est-ce qu'on peut faire?" they shrug, their children's behaviour is not their (the parent's) problem. I suppose that it is the same in the UK these days, but I don't know.
The teachers spend a lot of their time trying to keep order and actually teaching anything becomes secondary. Teaching staff are now babysitters!
A fair percentage of the pupils have low literacy and maths levels and lack comprehension skills when they arrive in College at about 11 years of age. Their knowledge of the world, current affairs and history is low, and reading a book is not on their agenda. Concentration is not something that they are familiar with, except when it comes to playing computer games, when an 8 hour concentration span is achievable. Of course they arrive at college exhausted. Obviously not the fault of the parents then.
The jobs situation here in this part of France? Well prospects are almost non-existent unless you work for Airbus at Toulouse. There are no job prospects for youngsters or indeed oldsters here, The outlook is bleak, so why should the kids bother to learn anything. The Government appears to have totally lost the plot and we wait for the latest news of the President's complicate love life.
On the other hand I did have most of today off, the sky was blue and the sun was shining...
"Always look on the bright side of life..." (exit stage left en sifflant)