Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Schooling

Yesterday I filled in for a friend who teaches at a Parisian public high school that offers an undergrad-level program to prepare students for the entrance exams to graduate engineering schools. I snapped a picture of the blackboard for you - I like the flower that pops up, left, like a whimsical provocation, so true to the teenage spirit.
I worked 1-on-1 with students yesterday, which I love. Teenagers have such an inner intensity. And they're smart.

I remember my first school... Riverside Farm Nursery School, in Nairobi (Kenya) was right across the street from our house. There were lots of children from different countries, all blabbering away in English. No matter how wonderful the institution, I never really liked school; I always felt like my heart was somewhere else, where the rules of the games were my own, and where I got to choose the stories I longed to hear. I had friends, but I felt like a loner who had somehow not received the key memo - an impression that became only more intense as years went by and as I went on to other, more French institutions around the world. By the time I got to a very Parisian high school, I felt and was treated as something of a freak.
I hate to finish on such a sour note so I'll only add: if you're in high school and miserable, the good news is, high school has an end.

37 comments:

Jill said...

Isn't is nice that those high school years are over? Life goes on and gets better! I put in a little link to you in my post today...I can't stop thinking of your Parisian cafes :)

marie said...

oh i know what you mean.. im glad its over, the real world is so different, and i feel like i can finally be myself without caring what others think :)

MISS GLITZY said...

You're so cute in your smock but I do agree, high school is far away from me but I was pleased when it was over.

Anonymous said...

i wasn't too keen about highschool when i was in highschool (fortunately near the end i had a great english teacher who radically changed my view)...but i think it is safe to say: it was such an awkward time for everyone. i actually only really began enjoying school when i got to university...
nancy

Mary-Laure said...

JILL - h thanks for the link! I'm thrilled!

NANCY - As a film lover you probably know what François Truffaut wrote: "Teenage years leave good memories only to those who have a bad memory"...
I'd love to hear more about your English teacher! I was blessed with amazing French teachers in junior high/middle school and that made a world of a difference, too.
Big belly rub to Stevie (I'm still worried he may feel left out of the Dog-Blog world..)

JuliaB said...

My schooling was an utter disaster! but in an academic way not so much social. My mother had the same problem as you being French in a non-french school at times in her life. She had a terrible time. x

pia said...

Mary-Laure, I love this post and what a fabulous last remark/advice for high-schoolers.

I felt EXACTLY the same way growing up and attending different schools in different countries. I sense, with hindsight, it made the ill feeling for school ever more present and potent. You have described it perfectly. It's so nice to know you felt the same, even though we were thousands of miles apart. px

PS and how serendipitous is your recent teaching of high-schoolers - do you think this is something you would consider more permanently? I think you would be such an awesome influence for growing teens - especially those in international schools.

xx

Kai said...

I wasn't a huge fan of hugh school either and just recently I heard that they're organising a reunion. Lucky for me I no longer live in the UK and I'm flying to the USA the day after, so attending would be a nightmare to schedule.

Love the kiddie photos.. :)

Mary-Laure said...

JULIAB - actually I am half-French, and felt most uncomfortable in more all-French schools because I myself was so international and lacked the references the other kids had.
That's why going to an all-white all-French high school in Paris was the WORST! I felt like a extraterrestrial.
It's cool that your mum is French and your Dad isn't! There's nothing like multiculturalism. J'espere que tu as appris le français?

PIA - I'm so glad we shared this experience, dear Pia! Anything I have in common with you is a wonder to me!
Also: actually I've worked with teenagers a lot when I was teaching in American universities and found my students most precious. Many have become dearest friends.
What I like best in 1-on-1 interactions, really. I tutor sometimes and like it a lot.

KAI - aaargh, the dreaded reunion! Good for you you're flying away, both literally and metaphorically...

Kira Fashion said...

sweet girl!

a kiss!!!

karina said...

I did not like school either, and now I feel sometimes frustrated by all the rules in my kid s school.

Fifi Flowers said...

My son is getting ready to take high school entrance exams for next year... very scary the things that go on in high school... I hope to keep him motivated and up beat... and hope that he will have some fond memories of high school.

heidi said...

that's exactly what I tell my kids. It gets to the point where you are just working to get out of the system.

Mrs.French said...

I was so thrilled to be done with high school! It sounds as if we had similar experiences....lovely post, I love learning more about you.

lovingcjm said...

Nairobi wow! I too am glad that school is over and life has begun :)

tangobaby said...

Oh, high school is tough (although junior high school is tortuous, too). It must be even more of a challenge moving around a bit as well.

I love the photos of you, as always.

miss cavendish said...

How were your university years? I never liked elementary and junior high school much--was bored silly in my classes and never took to the girly cliques--prefer to be singular with one or two good pals.

Melissa said...

Mmm high school is not much fun for me either. I hate homework.
And thank you so much for the nice comment. I love your blog too--trade links?

Miss Karen said...

I felt the same way about high school and I'm so glad it's now a distant memory and completely unimportant to my life now.

I know some people still cling to their high school personas and wish they were back there but I find a lot of these people can't manage the real world - they can only handle the schoolyard hierarchy because they at the top whereas now they're just part of a greater mass.

Joanna Goddard said...

such a great post -- i love those photos. and the flower is adorable!

Hila said...

I still feel like a loner - mostly because my very close friends are all overseas. You know, the kind of friends who "get you".
I totally agree with what you say about teenagers - I've taught some brats at university, but I've also taught some truly wonderful students.

aimee said...

(sigh)... high school can be so tough. i'm already nervous thinking about my own daughters going to high school, the cliques and the attitudes they'll encounter, and how they'll deal with it. and that won't be for another ten years!

but as you mentioned, working with teenagers one on one can be a different experience. you get a glimpse into their individuality and what makes them shine.

what beautiful pictures!

Carletta said...

Love the pics - I was trying to decide if a potted plant had something to do with the equation on the board! :)
Cute childhood pics!

Carletta said...

I meant to add I wish I had a dog!
Sweet idea!

A World in a PAN said...

You were such a pretty little girl. Oh, those pictures bring so many memories back - all sweet.

Hey Harriet said...

Oh I hear you! I was so pleased when high school finally ended & I could escape! A wonderful post! :)

alis said...

I hated high school, with all its stupid rules that didn't make sense. Because I was rebellious and I was more into arts than science, my high school treated me like a failure, I graduated with very low self esteem. But turns out it wasn't me that was wrong, because I loved every day of college and was in top 3 of my department(industrial design), even earned a scholarship! When I'm older and have established my career, I definitely want to return as a part time teacher :)

Stephanie said...

No amount of money could make me go back to high school ... even though there was some amazing things mixed in with the bad. Everything was so heightened - maybe because as a teenager, I had no ability to put things in perspective - everything was so immediate and present and intense and forever. I think that intensity is why those years get so fetishized, even though they tend to be so crummy.

It makes me think of song lyric from LCD Soundsystem - 'makes you want to feel like a teenager - until you remember the feelings of a real life emotional teenager - then you think again'

(love the pictures!)

Claire, said...

Wonderful!

Couture Carrie said...

Good for you! I taught high school for four years and I can say that the only thing tougher than BEING a high school student is teaching 25 classes a week!

xoxox,
CC

limonana said...

i know EXACTLY what you mean. i felt the same way about school having gone to an international one abroad. when i see teens suffering the normal drama, i just want to tell them its all going to be over soon anyway! teens feel everything more intensely, pain, joy & drama! :o)

josephine said...

i am so with you on this, mary-laure! i couldn't wait to get out of high school. during my last year, i didn't have to take gym or math, so i could leave at lunch time. i promptly got a part-time job so i could start learning to be independent. all my friends told me i'd be missing out on all the senior activities, but i didn't care.

Susanna-Cole said...

I love your pictures, how adorable! And wow you lived in Kenya? That's so awesome, I've always been fascinated with other cultures very different from the ones I know! :)

And I didn't really like high school at all (I worked hard to graduate in 3 years instead of 4, partially cause I just wanted to be done with it) however I rather miss seeing my school friends regularly! :(

xoxo,
S-C

artycho said...

I really enjoy reading you then! I too never liked school and I deeply believe there are alternative ways to learn better than being stuck in a room with a flock of kids! Cerys was homeschooled till two weeks ago now I can see I was right not to like school, I hate standardisation!

Jaimee said...

I'm so glad you visited my blog or I may have never come across yours. It's lovely and you have som many interesting stories and travel. Can't wait to read more!

lolly said...

love your blog..i went to riverside too!! i randomly googled it and your blog came up..when were you there?

leeskerette said...

Like Lolly, I was searching the web for Riverside Farm Nursery School, as well, and came across this. It was my son's first school, and the place of many good memories (along with most everything about Kenya!) You must tell us when you attended!

I have friends from New Zealand who visited Nairobi not too long ago. They say they couldn't find Riverside Farm, and suspect it's gone ...