Friday, January 22, 2010

Unorganised Agropolis

My youngest's teacher was on strike yesterday. I'm amazed that we've got as far as January actually without trouble. I can't remember what they were striking about, but it was probably the usual.

What it meant was that I sent my son to school anyway in the morning, to fester in the obligatory set-up of adult presence at the school (no teaching was involved) and took the afternoon off so he could run about in the sun.

I also had his friend, C, as requested. After a mega lunch of ham and parsley sauce, they went to kick a ball around in the stadium and wear themselves out nicely. As the collège teachers were on strike too, there were other boys around doing exactly the same thing.

Then I went into yummy mummy mode and decided that as they were supposed to be at school, they should do something with a passing nod at education. So I took them to the Agropolis Museum to see the spice exhibition which opened that day. We went with some friends and turned up quite a merry band - 6 kids aged 4-12, 2 adults.

The place was empty when we got there just after 3.30pm and we were their first customers. No need to book then... We had to pay, natch (10Eur for 2 kids and me), and I asked for the kiddy activity booklet. Pas de chance, it wasn't ready or they hadn't received it and the inauguration was next week and they'd have it for then. I was not impressed. Imagine the Science Museum opening a special exhibition and not having everything ready for Day 1 with 800 people queueing outside to get in.

As it was, the kids had no structure to the visit. I had never been there before so had no idea what to expect. We started off in the African food section where they wandered around not reading the panels of information, not finding anything to climb on, touch, play with, and rapidly lost interest. They perked up a bit at a video which showed some Pygmys of Northern Congo cook some larvae, extract wild honey from up a tree and dig for tubers, then found the larvae in a jar in glass case and made suitably revolted noises.

Replete with African info, they went to the Mediterranean section, as yet unfinished. They banged some bags containing herbs to guess what the smell was - the fun was in the banging, not the smelling - and wandered around looking vaguely at the rest. When my friend and I tried to engage them in some information, their attention span lasted a massive 10 seconds before they wandered off.

I felt frustrated that what could have been quite interesting with the proper support - a structured booklet to fill in - turned into a bit of a waste of time. I did learn, however, that the ancient Egyptians gave workers a clove of garlic a day to keep them healthy enough for their building projects.

Conclusion - disappointing but with some potential. Maybe that sort of place is best left to school visits when they pull out all the educational stops.


  1. I see from the lien that there was supposed to be a book of relevant recipes... for the larvae, peut-etre?

  2. You're right, expat, but I didn't see that either.

    In fact I rather got the impression that we were making the place untidy. It was all nice and quiet until we got there.


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