Friday, 2 November 2007
Just found out tonight that the school holidays don't finish until next Wednesday. That seems awfully long, considering the Fingernails have only been back since the beginning of September. Take away the two strikes that Fingernail 1's teacher has already 'participated in' i.e. probably staying at home with breakfast in bed, watching some scrofulous re-run of an unfunny film from 1953, and the times she's been off sick (at least two weeks), it doesn't add up to much tuition time. Her little work book has virtually nothing in it so I really wonder if they've had any kind of activities these past two months at all. Don't get me wrong: Fingernail 1 is only five and I'd only just started infant school at her age, so I'm very much in favour of her discovering through playing and enjoying these precious years; she has her whole life to put her nose to the grindstone. But at the same time I'd like to see some evidence of her doing something, ANYTHING, which could expand her mind. She doesn't have to write joined-up yet, doesn't have to reproduce Caravaggios without going over the edges, but I'd like to see proof of some kind of nurturing input on the side of the staff. We've spoken to the headmistress about this woman, but, in true bureaucratic style, she is powerless to address any kind of disciplinarian issue with her. That's the job of the Academy, and they're unlikely to hoover off their cobwebs and act. My mother was a teacher in England for many years, and they didn't even have the right to strike in those days. I don't know whether it's any different, now, but at least the children were able to form a relationship with their teacher and not be held hostage to the puerile displays of solidarity, defending the indefensible, which so often passes for 'industrial action' in France. With more strikes against Sarkozy's planned reforms coming up in November I can see this creature band-wagonning any further excuse to not go to work while the parents of Class 4 run around trying to reorganise their lives and find even more ways to juggle having children and making sure they have the money to clothe and feed them. And no-one will say a word to the teacher. They can't. The right to strike is there in the Constitution of the Fifth Republic but it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of people here regarded it as a duty. My heart sank when I saw Fingernail 1 was going to be in her class this year. Sadly, my fears have already been borne out.