Monday, November 10, 2008

Coaching for Bedtime

I was reading in Le Figaro today (good grief, I hear you cry, le figaro?? Yes, it has been known...) that parents are beside themselves with their inability to cope with their offspring. Sound familiar? Yes, the grass is not necessarily greener over here, especially in the more desperately miserable outskirts of large cities - la zone.

Many parents are not sufficiently implicated in their children's education, it appears, and as an implicated parent is one who produces a more successful child, l'Education National has decided that some parental coaching is needed to guide those who have no idea towards the light.

Some 400 volunteers from Creteil will be following up to 90 hours of coaching on such subjects as 'What time is bedtime?', 'How to organise a schoolbag', and 'What use should be made of television and computers?'

The coaching classes are designed for parents of kids in sixième (11) which is the year they leave the cosy one-teacher for all subjects environment for a one-teacher per subject environment. Apparently at this point chaos reigns in many households as kids can't get to grips with understanding what they have to take to school, what to leave behind, what lessons they'll have during the day, and how to organise their schoolbag.

When I went into the first year of secondary school we had the same issues, but I don't remember there being a whole lot fuss made.

With my eldest, I purposefully kept fuss to a minimum, expecting him simply to get on with it, to organise himself and learn from experience. Of course, I did weigh in from time to time, but he loathed it when I did.

All this wittering about schoolbags I find really excessive. Are today's children so hopelessly mollycoddled that they cannot work out the right books to put in their bag for the day's lessons? It's hardly rocket science, but it seems that parents either over-fuss, or don't give a shit in which case failure looms and they are hauled in (voluntarily) to be coached in bag-filling.

What has happened in the last couple of generations that parents are now so perplexed at their children's lives and occupations? Have they really no role model to fall back on? No parents or grandparents to offer advice? No friends and relations to call upon? No common sense?

How terrible it must be to be so disconnected from age-old values that you're totally lost in the modern world. So lost that you need coaching on what time your child should go to bed at the age of 11, although by that age I would have thought it was almost too late to take action. Coaching needs to start much younger, especially around the time kids are learning to read and write.

There's not much point having a bag and books if you can't read your timetable or the title of the books you need to take to school. An image of stable doors and horses springs to mind...

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