Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Teachers on strike

Place de l'Horloge, Tuesday 19th March 2008, 11:45

Red flags flapping in the cold wind against the deep blue sky, yesterday's demonstration in front of Avignon's town hall was an eye trap for someone like me. This was one of the many marches organised nationwide yesterday to protest against the 11,000 job cuts in public education announced by President Sarkozy's government for next year. Specifically here the demonstration was about a planned 30 job cuts at Jean Giono College, one of Orange's* high schools, as from next September. French lesson of the day: "En grève" means "on strike". A word you'd better know if you travel to France because chances are that you will at some stage be affected by one. Strikes are part and parcel of life in France!
Talking about street action, I'll spare a thought today for the Tibetan people facing Chinese repression...
(*Orange is a small town north of Avignon. Beautiful Roman ruins there...)

Drapeaux rouges claquant dans le mistral sur fond de ciel bleu, la manifestation d'hier devant l'Hotel de Ville d'Avignon devait forcément m'attirer l'oeil. Avignon s'est joint aux multiples manifestations nationales contre les onze mille suppressions d'emplois dans l'éducation nationale annoncés par le gouvernement. Spécifiquement ici, les enseignants en grève du Collège Jean Giono d'Orange protestaient contre la menace de suppression de 30 emplois dans leur établissement dès la rentrée prochaine.
A propos de manifs, j'adresse aujourd'hui une pensée de soutien au peuple Tibétain qui fait face à la répression chinoise...


17 comments:

oldmanlincoln said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oldmanlincoln said...

Things like strikes are almost never successful unless both sides agree to end them and when both agree on terms each can accept. I know in my lifetime I have only been involved in one strike and that one wasn't something I supported. And when it was over and people went back to work, my job lost money. I left engineering and research and development and went into teaching which gave me the summers off.

I don't know about France but the system of education in this country needs more than a makeover, it should be redone. Almost every day we read some odd newspaper bit about a graduate who cannot read his driver's license.


Abraham Lincoln
Brookville, Ohio

Peter said...

I know, strikes are part of the French "charm"! Maybe we would regret if they did not take place any more?
I agree that education is an extremely important issue... always under discussion and with wishes for reformation.
However, it's so difficult to reach solutions which satisfy all parties... and each time there is a proposition (even if you may consider it as positive, which hardly canbe the case with this reduction) you can expect new demonstrations and strikes, by students or by teachers.

Nathalie said...

Peter and Abraham, there's no doubt in my mind, especially after six years overseas, that the French education system has turned psycho-rigid and is in need of deep reform. But I don't think this will be achieved with less teachers so I share their worries when the government goes into job cuts.

Kate said...

Ah, how easy it is to cut educational programs and criticize educators. A worldwide phenomena!! With more respect, better pay, support from the community, and smaller classes reform would be automatic. But, I guess I'm just a dreamer!!

Nathalie said...

So am I Kate, so am I...

Eric said...

So Nathalie, tell me, are you a Jack of all trades??

How was the education system in Australia? Better or worse than in France. And if so why?

lumer said...

Face à la répression chinoise j'ai une pensée de soutien au peuple Tibétain, certainement très forte et j'évite de faire l'almagame avec une manif libre sur des revendications classiques françaises. C'est pas le même combat et de même dimension. Bonne soirée

Nathalie said...

Tout à fait d'accord Lumer. Merci de rappeler qu'il n'y a pas de commune mesure.

J'ai choisi de faire un blog sur le tout petit microcosme avignonnais, pas sur les affaires du monde. Mais parfois l'actualité créée des téléscopages et j'éclate dans les limites que je me suis fixée à moi-même. Alors ça donne ça: deux lignes pour rappeler qu'ailleurs il se passe des choses importantes. C'est ma façon à moi d'être 'dans le monde', pas repliée sur mon petit univers.

On peut aussi choisir de ne publier sur son blog que des photos de papillons sans légende. Un blog c'est un espace personnel qui peut prendre de multiples facettes et qui souvent ne représente que certains aspects de la personnalité de son auteur.

Nathalie said...

Eric, you post photos of street demos all the time in Paris, I had never done it. It's about time! LOL


Now to answer your question in my perfect world there would be a little bit of both schooling systems:
- Australian for the shorter school days, the diversity of subjects taught, the emphasis on child self-confidence and happiness, the relaxed teacher-student relationships and the balanced reaction to poor school results. If you're no good at school doesn't mean you're a failure as a person. But... the crucial lack of contents! There's so much the kids never learn because the emphasis is on not stuffing their heads with contents that isn't "relevant" to them. Hardly any language teaching!

- French for the fantastic Kindegarden system, the structure of thought, the strive for excellence, the intellectual stimulation - everything a school should be about, really. The problem is, it only works for kids who are capable of taking it in, the others just drop out and are treated as failures. Alternative paths are regarded as a downgrade and frowned upon. It's intolerable.

I wish each system could borrow and learn from the other. But our "Education Nationale" is a mammoth whose ways are deeply set...

Rauf said...

Nathalie, Have you wondered why there are job cuts now ? Why the governments are forced to take such unpopular measures ?
The day is not far when the poor will not be able to educate their children.

Peter said...

I agree completely with several of your statements, Nathalie!

Your blog is YOUR blog and you do it in your (nice) way! I know also how engaged you are in other matters, related to freedom and liberty!

Your analysis of the French school system is exactly what I - and many of us - think, but it seems SO difficult to obtain any real change, despite all small efforts to reform - always contested. Yes, the French school system is too elite based and too theoretical - not sufficiently preparing for real life! In the worldwide evaluation of school systems, Finland (!) comes on top! We should learn from each other!

Nathalie said...

Thanks for your support, Peter. Much appreciated.

Sally said...

I like your take, Nathalie - I think you've captured the qualities of the Australian ed system well (I don't know enough about the french, except it does seem from the outside tyo be highly stratified and based on the success of the most able)

Maybe someone should sponsor me to go to France for an extended period to do a rigorus cmparative study ;-)

PS Her ein NSW we're having a 2 hourstopwork soon because of changes being introduced to the transfer system. Won't go in to ins and outs but it pretty much means the system of transfer equity we have now will vanish and the most disadvantaged kids in the most disadvantaged areas will be worse off.

Abe is used to N American strikes which go on and on for ever. Not sure abut France, but we never have them here cos of the Industrial Relations system. More usual is 24 hours, or rolling 2 hour strikes. The longest teachers' strike in NSW was one of 48 hours.

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Anonymous said...

huh. funny :)

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