Friday, February 13, 2009

French School ≠ Creative and Fun

I've been doing various Valentine's Day activites with my classes. Making cards, learning the "Roses are Red…" poem, singing. Here in France, Valentine's Day is strictly for couples. So the kids are entertained by making cards for mom, dad, friends and teachers.

It's fun to do all this stuff, I can tell the kids are enjoying it, and that makes me feel good. But then one teacher made her students memorize the poem and write it from memory a couple days later. I had to give them grades on it. This did not make me feel good.

My whole point of being here is to get the students interested in English. I don't have enough time with each class to do much else. I spend a maximum of 1.5 hours a week with each class, oftentimes less. So my only goal is to get them to have fun with the language and learn a bit about the culture. Hopefully somewhere down the road they will more seriously persue the language.

But making some 10-year-olds memorize "Roses are red, Violets are blue, Sugar is sweet, And so are you"? What does this accomplish? How does this peak the interest of a child? It is boring, and the poem is pointless. I was mad that the teacher made the kids do this. I feel like it will make them hate English. It would make me hate English.

But I have to remember that this is how things are done in France. The schooling system is way more academic than the states. Kids aren't supposed to have fun in school. They are supposed to learn. The learning is inside-the-box. If you step out, you will fail. I'm not being dramatic. It's really how it is. Creativity is not encouraged. It's really sad.

And so that is probably why most of the class did so well on this quiz. Almost all of them memorized the poem perfectly. This is kind of my "stupid" class. They consistently perform terribly on my evaluations. I was so surprised that they received such high scores. But I guess it's because they're used to this memorize-and-regurgitate method.

All I can do is secretly fight back. I hope to subconsciously show them that learning doesn't have to be so sucky and boring. We learned about Valentine's Day in the U.S. as well as how to say "I Love You," in American sign language, thanks to a variation of this activity. Then I let the kids glue, color, and write however they pleased. Everyone's cards turned out a bit different, and I was happy again.


LaurenW said...

Roses are red, violets are blue, I'd kiss you for Valentine's Day, if I were in Paris, too.
Keep working in that creativity, Bets. You'll be the best thing for them ever :)

Marni said...

<3 I believe in your cause Betsy!