For some of this afternoon, I was wondering whether to go to an event organised by the local 'best' public lycée on Russian.
It's well known that to get your child into the best public schools you have to pretend they are dying to learn an off-beat language such as Japanese or Russian. My eldest has not yet entered collège, and yet I am receiving brochures on round tables about Russia, learning Russian, and the advantages thereof.
I was perplexed, to say the least. The round table would start at 3.30pm, a time when I am at work. It would be followed by a performance of poetry recitals and songs in Russian by the pupils of the lycée. The event would round off with a gouter of Russian goodies prepared by the pupils from recipes previously handed out.
But why me? My son is not yet of the age to consider such options. He was telling me he'd like to study German at collège next year. All the pupils in his class were given the brochure, and perhaps all the non-working keenly ambitious mummies would have attended the round table, notebook in perfectly manicured hand.
I was talking to NG who has already been through the education treadmill with her now grown-up children, and she was telling me that schools like that prepare the brightest and best in the public system for prépa exams, cultivating them like hot-house plants and preventing them from enjoying themselves. Not really what I had in mind for my eldest...
In any case, I am more enthusiastic about him going to university, if he wishes, in the UK rather than France. At least there he'll be assured of a student-centred structure; tutoring, mentoring, and also FUN. French universities are not renowned for their extra-curricula activities, and my ex-h says that you're a loser if you're not in a grande école or doing a professional subject like medecine or law. With an attitude like that, I'd rather my eldest studied what he wants in an environment that won't despise you because you're not an ENARC.
I'd be interested to hear what other parents of kids in France think about this thorny subject. Am I over-reacting, or are my thoughts similar to most parents concerned about the oddities of the French system, and especially the prospects of our kids once they've been through it. I'm thinking of the difficulties young people have of finding real jobs, the 300,000 French people who've moved to London to work and set up businesses, and the unwillingness of companies to take on un-sackable, costly staff.
I'm not exactly losing sleep over it, but when I get given leaflets on learning Russian in lycée when my son is only 10, it sets off a chain reaction of projecting and concern.