Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Putting baby in a corner...

The following note was pasted into both my little ladies' cahiers de liasion (the notebook used to communicate between the teachers and the parents) yesterday at school:

Madame, Monsieur,
Un enseignant a été agressé verbalement par un parent dans l'enceinte de l'école. Cette attitude inadmissible face à un fonctionnaire attaché à son école et à sa mission de service public est fermement condamnée par l'ensemble de l'équipe éducative.
Nous soutenons notre collègue et nous rappelons que toute agression verbale ou physique est punie par la loi.

Basically, it says that a teacher was verbally abused by one of the parents at the school, and they are reminding us that this sort of behaviour, verbal or physical abuse, it punishable by law.

As it was the Duke that picked the ladies up from school, I didn't have a chance to hear from the other mothers outside the school gates what the story was. I don't know which teacher it was, nor which parent. But oh la la, what a village drama it must be.

I'm pretty new at this 'mother of school age children' thing, and I'm sure there may come a time when something happens at school that may propel me to have words with the teacher. (Actually, the littlest lady's teacher did accidentally slam her little fingers in the door the other day, resulting in purple fingers and the certainty of a loss of fingernails, but still, accidents happen....)

However, I just can't imagine feeling heated enough to verbally attack one of the teachers. I'm desperately trying to imagine a hypothetical example. Had the teacher punished the child in some way (unjustly in the eyes of the parent)? Was the child given a bad grade? Did the teacher step over the line with a 'Yo mama...' joke? Did the teacher not pay little kevy wevy enough attention?

I'm sure I'll get the full details tomorrow at dance class; lord knows it must be all everyone around here is talking about.

For an expat living in France, I know that the education system here is considered a little more strict than in the US or England. I've heard stories from English parents who say they don't approve of the discipline or consequential punishment that is dealt out to kids who don't behave in class.

Maybe it's the hard-ass in me, or maybe it's because I was once a teacher, but I think one of the problems with English and American educational institutions these days is that there isn't enough discipline. Respect for authority and your elders seems to have gotten lost somewhere in that great big politically correct Bermuda triangle.

Not that I'm condoning verbal or physical abuse, by either teacher or parent. I'm just wondering where the line is drawn between discipline in the classroom and looking after your child's best interests.


Okay, so it was a father who started shouting at his son's male teacher. Apparently the boy had been picking fights with other students and was disciplined by the teacher. I guess the father didn't like his son being disciplined, so he picked a fight with the teacher. I wonder where the boy could have learned such behavior....


Anonymous said...

I know that my SIL has had words with her childrens' teachers from time to time. Probably more like not enough attention to her kids.

You will have to get to the bottom of this scandale.

Melissaand3boys said...

There are so many ways to communicate with people that yelling at them or calling them names, or whatever, is probably not required under any circumstances. It seems like that would also undermine the teacher's authority over the children. Certainly if there was a problem it could be handled in a different way and include the principal in the discussion.

But who knows...maybe whoever it was may have tried other approaches and just lost their cool when it didn't work.

I'd be curious to know more of the details.

Magic27 said...

Totally agree about the wishy-washy "mustn't hurt the little angels' feelings" attitude in British schools (don't know anything about US schools). I'm British but went to very old-fashioned, big-on-discipline schools (which meant there was actually very little disciplining - no need, we all behaved pretty well) and my two daughters (aged just 7 and nearly 5) have always been schooled in France. Apart from the lack of non-sitting at a table and writing/colouring activities, I think the French system is pretty good!
Am intrigued to know what your village scandal was about though - nothing interesting like that here: maybe we should be in a village?!

Amélie said...

Hmm, that's interesting because as a French mother living in UK I find there is too much 'irrelevant' discipline in my daughter's school. Irrelevant because in fact it's more about disciplining parents than children (and the most often not regarding school work itself: telling us regularly that our children should have a coat (in June/July! when you know that if it rains they wouldn't go outside and hence occur the only risk of the moment, being wet...); giving us attendance sheets with a record of absences and late arrivals. But waiting the first parents evening to tell you your child refuses to work instead of raising an alert flag soon after she started this behaviour (i.e. almost two months earlier). I often feel like they're educating little soldiers, and not only because of the uniform: you have to be 'dans le moule' (I guess fit would be a fine translation but don't you have a more colourful expression?) if you don't want your child to receive regular remarks from the headteacher.