Now well into our second full day of the exchange. So far, no emergency phone calls from desperate teenagers demanding to go home early. It’s early days however…
Yesterday was spent mainly in Falaise; the morning in classes at the collège, the afternoon wandering around the town. I hesitate before making direct comparisons between the school where I work in the UK and the school here in France as both will inevitably have their positive and negative aspects but the collège in Falaise is a stark place, devoid of decoration and any kind of charm. The buildings are solid, functional edifices, the corridors dark and a little intimidating and even the staff room a charmless, echoey affair. One room that did stick out was the English classroom of the teacher who organises the exchange. Adorned with the kind of realia you’d find in most French classrooms back in the UK, it made a refreshing alternative to the other places around the school. The pupils however were a delight. Attentive, serious, interested and interesting. There seemed to be little animosity shown for being at school in the first place, no aggression, no stubborn refusal to do the work. One class involved the dry topic of the French judicial system and how minors were dealt with. Without exception the class of 14 year olds were absorbed in the subject they were studying. Much food for thought.
Lunch was away from the school in a local brasserie that served quantities of chips to make even the most hardened of arteries gulp. I ate the lot along with a cheese omelette washed down with a string black coffee. The afternoon activities were also away from the school; the students had been given the task of working out answers to clues based around the facts of figures of the town of Falaise. The main point was to encourage the two nationalities to communicate, hopefully in French and to a greater extent the plan worked. More snacks followed back in the school canteen and then it was back to our respective hosts.
The next two posts tell the visual story of my morning here in Caen. I even slipped in an early morning jog around the perimeter of the horse racing track at the crack of dawn… Pour l’instant, tout va bien!