Today I was once again fed up with my school's lack of basic organizational skills. As you can deduce from the "once again" part of that last sentence, this has been demonstrated to me many, many times throughout the year. I have a whole list of things that, quite frankly, piss me off about the schools I work at, including a bunch of rant posts I wrote but never published because they ended up being really long and descended into a lot of incoherent swearing. I was going to attempt an abridged version today, but then I took a nap. And now I feel better. And perhaps concentrating all the things that annoy me at my job is not a healthy way to deal with it. So, I will keep my rants to myself (unless you're curious, then I'm more than happy to sit in a cafe with you and talk your ear off about the ways in which the French education system needs to improve), because I complain too much as it is.
But I will complain about today, because you can't take all my fun away from me, cynicism is part of my old-manlike charm.
This whole week has been pretty miserable, full of sickness and snot and coughing and needing healthy things but being too tired to go to the store to get it. All I've wanted to do is go back to being 12 and go home and lay in my bed and have my mommy go to the store for me and make me some soup. Today was especially bad, and I nearly called my school (again) to ask for a day off, but I decided that since I'm only there once a week, and since I only have two teaching weeks left, and since I called in sick the week before, I would be American about it and suck it up and go.
I managed to make it through the morning, then I came home for lunch, too exhausted to eat, nearly fell asleep, then forced myself up. "Three more classes, I got this." When I got to the school, suddenly all the kids were dressed up as princesses and cowboys and cops (here they're allowed to bring fake guns to school...and pretend to shoot their friends with them, no France, no) and in my sick half-alive state I was very confused...were they wearing that before? Is this still Thursday? Did I sleep through Thursday? Am I sleeping right now?
I went upstairs and waited outside my next class for ten minutes, only to have the teacher tell me "we're not doing English today. It's Carnival. In fact, none of the afternoon classes are doing English, no one told you?" No, lady, no one told me. Just like the last time this exact same thing happened because of an event that had been planned well in advance, no one decided to tell me that I didn't need to make the 25 minute trip here, or that I didn't need to bother planning lessons. I'm not quite sure what it is with schools here (and this isn't just me, the other assistants complain about the same thing), but they seem to have some sort of rare allergy to emails. And phones. To me, it just shows a complete lack of respect for my time which is one of my biggest pet peeves. This event, isolated, really isn't a big deal, but like I said, added to the running list I have going, it was too much, a last straw. I make sure I'm there on time, I don't take several months of sick leave like the other teachers do (seriously, gone for months at a time), I try to teach their kids with the (very) limited technological resources they have, I deal with teachers that don't understand what their role is supposed to be, and then I deal with children whose pictures appear in the dictionary under the words "rambunctious" and "insane." I wouldn't have minded, but I had made such an effort to peel myself off of my comfortable bed, coughing up phlegm and barely being able to keep my eyes open. So I was mad.
Lately I've been thinking about how I'm going to remember this experience. Please don't get me wrong, overall I'm happy I did it and it's been fine, and having a bunch of little humans love you for who knows what reason doesn't suck, but the schools have regularly annoyed me, and sometimes you just need to complain a bit and let it out.
I can understand (sort of) why they add extra help like me to the most difficult schools: they're the ones that need it the most. But at the same time, when you bring young people from around the world to experience your country and you put them in schools that are barely keeping it together (at one of my schools eight of the 11-13 teachers are leaving next year!), you give them a really bad impression of your country's education system. And then they go back, and these are the stories they tell their friends and family. France, for the sake of your international reputation...do better.