Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hold up Your Banners and Take to the Streets!

I love the right to strike, the right to defend one's rights, the right to stand up for the application of the law or what one believes in.

This time, it's the teachers' turn. School is closed today. It isn't a holiday or a snow day. Teachers are exercising that very basic French right and are striking. As difficult as it is for me to write with a three year old running circles around my desk, I support their decision to take action.

The reason for the strike is valid: Teachers are simply asking the government to restore the old school schedule of four days a week. New hours have added an extra half day of class and shortened two of the full days. The goal was to make children's days less tiring, but in fact, the project has done just the opposite! The additional half day means an extra day in a school setting. When you count actual class time, followed by on-site daycare/afterschool programs, some three year olds now are at school 50 hours a week!

There is another reason I'm applauding the teachers' today: Because they dare to take action, to stand up for something rather than keeping their eyes lowered and blending in with the masses.

I inherited the rebellious spirit from my mother, who taught me to never be afraid of fighting the system or supporting others who dare to do so. (Mom loved watching the demonstrations, rather frequent here in Paris, when she would visit). 

In this latest fight, we soon will see if the teachers' voices are heard. In any case, I give them credit for standing up for the cause. 


  1. Hmm. I don't know. There's a school of thought that feels it's quite hard for the children to get into a rhythm. 2 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off. And those school days ARE awfully long (though I take your point about the hours spent in out-of-school care). I guess I just don't see it through French eyes

  2. It's a tough issue, and it probably also depends a lot on the age of the child -- or even the energy level of each individual child! I do agree that the French school day is excessively long though. I think they could lighten up the program and still produce smart and successful kids! :)

  3. At least they're not in Spain. Five full days a week and even longer hours than French children......

  4. Wow, that really is a lot... Gives children very little time for artistic activities, sports or even time with family and friends!!