Last night I attended the parent's evening at my eldest's private school. I clutched my list of rendez-vous - 2 out of 9 - yes, my eldest had been a bit slow off the mark sorting that out (no surprise there), and went to hear the worst. (NB the title is a just a pun. No child I know is on Ritalin!)
In fact, I managed to see six teachers who all told me the same thing: intelligent boy but too chatty, lacks concentration, and could do better. When I relayed this to my mother later, as a former secondary school teacher she said, "well that's typical of many boys of 12". My eldest has now been instructed to shut the f**k up, ignore anyone who talks to him and not to give a toss if they sulk about it, and to give warning to one particular girl that this is the new regime, as instructed from his mother, or else.
One good thing about the meeting was that I wasn't immediately asked whether I wanted to know which subjects my son needed tutoring in, which was the case at his previous state school. Obviously the teachers here feel that they are the ones doing the teaching, not leaving it to others to do their job for them. Which is how it should be, in my opinion.
Tutoring is very common, as it is in the UK. The Times had an article about it today citing a report saying it isn't fair that some kids succeed better because their parents pay for extra tuition.
Was life ever fair? Ask a woman sitting in a Congan refugee camp having been raped and lost her husband in a brutal killing if life is fair.
Some children are born into families where the parents are motivated for them to succeed, others are not. The amount of money you have doesn't really matter. There are poor parents who push their children to do well as there are rich parents who don't give a toss about their kids. Some children just get on with it themselves even if their parents are not pushy. A lot depends on character, and whether you have a character determined to succeed has nothing to do with fairness.
Schools are the opportunity for children to learn and develop skills to help them through life. Many parents feel that the level of teaching in some schools though is so bad that they are obliged to make up for the gaps in their children's education by private tuition. Other parents cannot afford to do this, and this is where the fairness thing comes in.
Essentially though, it's up to parents to do their best for their kids. Mine are my responsibility, and what other parents do or don't do is not my problem. If mine need tuition, they'll get it by whatever means I can afford. If the government wants to do something useful, instead of moaning about pushy middle class parents hogging the best schools because their children are tutored, they should make sure that every state school child receives the best education possible.
That goes for France and the UK. Interestingly, in France, state school teachers have their children privately educated. Nuff said...