Sunday, April 13, 2008

after school



Traditionally, French children have no school on Wednesdays, but, to make up for it, they attend school on at least some Saturday mornings. The official site of the French Ministry of Education terms this an "incoherent situation," which makes "a fiction" of the all-important national calendar and starting in September 2008, there will be no more Saturday school, at least for the youngest students.

But this spring in Paris, there's still school every other Saturday, and yesterday, as we sat at a café table, one of us with a pot of tea, the other with a café crème, we could see a stream of children being walked home by parents or nannies or older siblings. Even the littlest children seemed ineffably French, dressed in hats and duffel coats, all in muted colors, sometimes with a pink scarf for contrast. It wasn't long before the line at the bakery next door extended out onto the sidewalk, the children jabbering in high-pitched voices or or shifting silently from foot to foot, all waiting impatiently for their after-school treat.

20 comments:

Julia said...

Wimps! In the Old Country we went to school every Saturday, for a short day (until a bit after noon). And we had a full school day on Wednesdays too. If I was into conspiracy theories, I might decide that it was so to give parents, who didn't have to work Saturdays, time to err... drink tea/coffee in peace.

Tash said...

What really threw my parents in Germany (circa '76, don't know if this is the case anymore) is that the schedule was different every day. If they misread the calendar, or god forbid lost it, their child might not get picked up or walked across that really dangerous street she was forbidden to cross by herself without parental help. She might just wait out there for hours in a snowstorm. Not that I'd know or remember.

thirtysomething said...

Interesting. I did not know that about the schools in France.

LAS said...

I never knew that about school in France - that's really interesting. I hope you are having a great trip!!

christina(apronstrings) said...

i often had saturday school my mom thought it wsa for the school newspaper. but it was really for chewing gum. stupid, huh? but it helped me become a good liar. ; )

Sara said...

i actually applaud the French government for the change as the no school on Wednesday thing is very much tied to the "traditional" family model of a woman who stays home with the kids (and thus doesn't have to figure out what to do with them in the middle of the week when she wants to be working).

Aurelia said...

Yep, well, you know what my fantasy school hours are already. Wednesday off? An invention from the days when mommies stayed home, I assume. Perhaps even a way of making sure they stayed home and didn't work.

I don't have a problem with children staying in school Saturdays as well as long as there is a point. It's when it's just extra make work it seems ridiculous.

Maggie said...

How interesting! I guess if you don't ever know any different, then Saturday school probably isn't a big deal. But I'm still glad that I never had to go to school on Saturdays...

allypally said...

This is kind off tangent, but I remember watching children playing in a Parisian park sandpit and they pretended they were making gateaux au chocolat with framboise coulis.

Eva said...

I wish I understood why everything French seems so glamorous, but it just does. I wonder if I lived in France if I would become sophisticated!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could figure out how to make my work week with a day off in the middle of it.

painted maypole said...

oooh... now i want an afterschool treat at a french bakery! ;)

CLC said...

Your trip sounds like it has been fabulous so far. How much longer will you be there?

JamieD said...

I love to read your observations on everyday life. Granted Paris will always be more interesting than where I am but you really give cause to open my eyes and really SEE what is going on around me. And I love your photographs!

Christine said...

oh niobe. reading this felt sad to me, in a way. take care, ok?

Elizabeth said...

I didn't know about school on Saturday. Interesting. I adore cafe creme. Have one for me!

I hope your trip is going well.

Robyn said...

Just love the foibles of the French. Just no explaining them. But then the French don't beleive they need explaining. What is, is.
What I wouldn't give to be sitting in a French cafe right this minute!

Amelie said...

Fascinating how children already look so typical for their country or region.

Tash: German school schedules are a mess. At least, some people have realized how inconvenient this is, but I'm not sure how long it will take to actually change anything.

Anonymous said...

Just catching up. Love the posts about your trip. Love the thought of school on Saturday, too.

Antigone said...

German school schedules may be a mess but at least their trains are always on time.