Well, oui I’ve been to France! On the first Monday of the Australian (Victorian) school holidays my fifteen year old son and I jetted off to Paris to stay with my brother, sister in law and nine year old nephew who have been living in Paris for nearly a year, for two weeks.
On arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport, after a couple of lengthy flights including managing our transfer through Hong Kong Airport (an experience) we slid into a taxi and headed to Mirabeau in the 16th Arrondissement (District). For Victorian readers the 16th District is the Toorak of Paris – beautiful (my brother is obviously not a teacher!).
We walked through the door at 9 am, put down our bags and headed out to the local coffee shop. Sitting outside, I enjoyed my first coffee experience (one of numerous for me as I quickly learnt that a coffee meant toilets!) in amazing surroundings. The day was planned by our Parisian family as a ploy to help us through our jetlag.
A visit to the EaB International: The Victor Hugo School - Paris
The Victor Hugo School has been an IB World School since March 2003.
We arrived the day of my nephew’s school open afternoon and my son and I were invited – permission granted. This is a big event, as parents have to make appointments to enter the school and rarely see their child’s classroom. This is also something expats grapple with, after coming from Australia where parents are used to an ‘open door’ policy, but security is high in international schools.
My nephew attends the EaB International: Victor Hugo School. When visiting any school I’m always on the lookout for ideas – not just to compare! I was not disappointed. The differences were obvious. Space is at a premium in Paris so classrooms are very small. My nephew’s classroom is small by Australian standards, however, there were approximately 14 students in his grade so that’s the trade off. The French students attend school for 30 weeks a year and there are 5 public holidays in May and others during the year. They have a half day on Wednesday where students can go home or do sport. My nephew is doing tennis as an optional paid extra – sensible Aussie parents.
His teacher was welcoming, but also overwhelmed as there really wasn’t enough room for visitors in the classroom. The activities the students completed with their teacher while I was there, were the same activities that I have presented to children in Australia -literacy activities and numeracy games. I observed students who were engaged and enjoyed sharing their writing orally with all visitors.
The children were then taken to their Violin class which was taught in French (which my nephew seemed to understand) but I didn’t. Then it was off to French language class where the children sang songs for us. Visiting a school in another country is a terrific experience. There are obvious differences but also many similarities.
Photo- Writing displayed at the school. Impressive!
After school we went to the park that the school uses at lunchtime as there isn’t a playground. The park is breathtaking! These children are not missing out. My nephew’s friends and their parents meet each day after school so that the children can play outside (most live in apartments).
My nephew has made many friends at school from different countries around the world. He is by nature a very social ‘Aussie’ boy who would adapt easily to any environment and that’s my observations as a teacher. He’s not too keen on homework which seems to be plentiful and likes spending time with his mates playing and of course the computer which he uses with ease. He told me how he narrates cartoons and uploads them to utube and they’re good – yes, he is only nine! His education for the last year has certainly not been confined to the school. Paris and beyond has been his classroom.
My favourite musee even more than the Louvre: Musee D’ Orsay
As I write this post my nephew and his parents will be part of an Australian group attending ANZAC day at Villers Bretonneux. Another example of learning through ‘real life’ experiences.
Next post: Guided Reading – Forming groups
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