This week we attended the school end of year concert, you know the score, I'm sure its the same all over; songs, poems, little plays, dance whatever. The little ones looking really cute what ever they do and the older ones impressing their proud parents and being very grown up.
So the parents, grandparents, relations, neighbours & village dignitaries all turned up. As there are just short of 300 people listed as resident and roughly 80/100 were present, thats a good deal of the village. Held in a marque erected to host the fete this weekend, we watched while the olympics were honoured in dance, country songs were sung and short dramatic scenes were acted out.
Much the same as in England we applauded, dabbed eyes and laughed in equal measures, but there was a fundemental difference. Here is where the French system favours the children; they had everything off by heart, were extremely self disciplined, it was more on a par with the motivated group work of older children. Every week primary children have to learn set pieces off by heart and these are tested rigourously....word perfect recital and dictation are a mark of success, so these pupils are trained.
Then there was the placement on the stage; France is a republic so everyone is of equal standing, hence everychild must be seen equally well at all times...photos must show all their faces so all the village can see.
And, at the end a fundamental difference, you must have a glass and something to eat. Not because of the need for sustanence or liquid, but to give the opportunity to sit and talk. French villages are quite sleepy places in my experience, but when they get any chance to socialise they do. formally, seriously and with great enjoyment.....Vive La Republique