Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ah, le mercredi

Wednesdays are funny in France. It's like a parenthetical notation in the sentence that is the rest of the week. Grade school children don't have school so you see them everywhere. Either with their mothers or grandparents or caregivers or in groups with adults from childcare centers being led around the city center. To the library, to the cinema, to the shops, to the bakery.

If someone mentions work schedules and says quatre/cinquième (4/5), chances are the one day off is wednesday. When a mother says she's returning to work, after a parental leave, for example, the first question everyone will ask her is: As-tu ton mercredi? Do you have your wednesday (off)? All the sports activites and music classes and pony clubs and whatever else are on wednesdays, which means most moms spend the day in the car.

I don't know quite how I feel about it. I like having a break in my work week, it's a day to catch up on papers I need to grade or lessons to plan. And it's nice for the kids to have a break too, their school days are really long, especially on the two days when they eat at the cafeteria. 8:30-4:30. That's 8 hours. It's organized well, recess happens twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, but still. I sometimes wonder if they wouldn't do better in a system that had fewer hours everyday, including wednesday. It's been talked about occasionally here. But then everyone who has a job linked to the current schedule throws a fit. The teachers because they like the break to do the same things as me. The sports and activites people because they like to be able to do things all the same day. And then of course everyone starts tossing out the French classic: mais ça a toujours été comme ça. But it's always been that way.

7 comments:

L said...

The day off used to be Thursday, which I learned while reading Petit Nicolas. I wonder if people threw a fit when it changed. I think it might have been after '68 though, so we can safely say everyone was throwing a fit then. I've heard that the growing number of parents with split-custody might bring an end to school on Saturday though.

Nicole said...

I - Very interesting about the thursday thing, I didn't know that. And very funny about the '68 thing fit throwing thing. From what I've heard, the saturday school thing is already finished starting fall 2008, which, I have to say, I'm thrilled about. My 7 year old has had school on a couple of saturdays a month for the past two years and it sucks.

kingba said...

I lived under the "thrusday off" thing, and it must have changed in the 70s(I was, however, in a very conservative school and so they might have caught up late...). No fir I can remember (but then if it happened AFTER i left high school (andthen France), I may not have cared at all. I can research it, ask when it changed to thursday. And the saturday thing, I thought it was only my school (but my memory is fuzzy), and it was four hours of HARD classes, not toe mail clipping and paper clip unbeinding... I am, however, still shocked that, in the US, with all the perennial fuss (30 years and counting..) about being behind other countries in.. sciences, math, reading skills, what have you, we STILL let kids out at 2:30 or 3:30pm every day and that includes BS classes and sports, and in high school, the kids have even entire 2-hour breaks (no class) in those limited hours! I had too much, they(we in the US) don't have enough, somewhere in between has to be right (in .. Iceland???).

kingba said...

I meant " NO FUSS" I can remember, belub belub...

beth said...

Remember Tuesdays used to be Late Days at Troy?

Christina said...

i actually enjoy wednesdays...it's like a sense of accomplishment that you've gotten over the proverbial hump for the week!

i really hope for your sake that they do away with saturday school. what an awful, awful idea to have school on the weekend!

Lorraine said...

A day off in the middle of the week? Sounds like a plan to moi.