Friday, 22 October 2010


My Toussaint half term holiday started early!  I've had one hour of proper teaching in the last two days (I'm meant to have seven).  Yesterday I got to school around 9:30 and found around 100 kids standing outside the gate in a "blocus".  On the railing they had put up a banner which read "Sarkozy, t'es foutu, la jeunesse est dans la rue" which means "Sarkozy, you've had it, the youth is on the street".  Apparently they used this slogan (with more success) for De Gaulle in May 1968.  The deputy head was there ushering in those students and assistants brave enough to cross the dreaded picket line.  Having just about made it past bored students rubbing their hands in the cold, I went inside.  The first lesson was a write-off - the teacher and I chatted for the whole lesson and waited for our next one.  That terminale class did turn up in full and I introduced myself and answered some familiar questions like I had done for the other classes.  I had a long break before my afternoon classes, and my teacher said I could go home as she didn't think anyone was going to turn up.

Today I was met with another blocus, but this time the kids had wired the gate shut and smeared what looked suspiciously like dog crap all over the electronic card reader.  I wasn't that keen to get inside the school, but I followed the rest of the staff in through the car park.  Once we got inside it was obvious that no students were that keen either - the school was empty.  So, after a quick word with my teachers, my holidays began early!

It's so strange seeing French students openly going on strike.  They don't need to cover their faces: all that happens is they get marked late on the register.  Imagine if a group of schoolchildren decided to go on strike in Britain - the teachers would break it up straightaway.  But here, it's a bit more ambiguous.  One told me that she supported the right of students to strike if they truly believed in the cause.  But, she added, loads just did it as an excuse to bunk off school.  Seeing as the right to strike is so ingrained in French culture, I guess you could regard the kids chanting outside the school gate as taking an all-day Citizenship lesson...

1 comment:

  1. Wow... dog poop? That's intense. The students here just put bunches of garbage cans in front of the school. Paris doesn't mess around!