October 19, 2006

A bit of a vent...I hope it doesn't make me sound intolerant

We heard a story on the radio this morning about many English language schools in Montreal potentially closing because of low enrollment. This makes me nervous about schools in our area because the boys will be going to English school. But only because we are lucky and semi-organized.

The way the Quebec system works is that there are actually two separate systems…English and French. Kids have no choice but to attend French language school. UNLESS either parent has a little Piece of Paper (I'm sure there is an official name for said paper/certificate, but I don't know what it is) from way back in their public school days stating that they attended English school in Quebec. Even though I went to English school, I don't count since it was in Nova Scotia. Lucky us, Jon's parents kept the little piece of paper from when he went to English school in Montreal many years ago. Which is quite amazing, considering they had no idea that we would ever live in Quebec or send our kids to school there.

From what I understand, the reason behind sending all kids to French school (unless they have a way out) is so that the French-Canadian culture and language will remain intact. Am I the only one who finds this ridiculous? Don't get me wrong…I completely understand the need for different cultures to maintain their identities. I'm just not sure the Quebec school system is going about it the right way. So enrollment has increased at French schools and decreased at the English ones. I'm sure French groups would consider this a victory. I would have to disagree, as the reason for the decreased English enrollment is that parents have NO CHOICE but to send their kids to the French schools. To me, forcing the kids to learn French isn't an effective way to maintain the culture. Yes, kids will be learning the language, but that DOESN'T make them Francophone…big difference.

It makes me sad that some kids will suffer and stumble through French school just because their parents don't have that little Piece of Paper. I know of one family who were able to put their son in the English system, but they put him in immersion to start as they did with their older son, who did wonderfully. The younger boy has a slight learning disability and did very poorly in immersion…he just couldn't pick up the language and do his schoolwork in it. But they were lucky enough to be able to switch him to the English system within the same school after a couple of years. The teachers and principal were very understanding and accomodating. He has done much better since the switch. Not a straight A student, but his disability means that he never will be, and that's fine. But if they had no choice but to enroll him in the French system, he would have been miserable. Who knows…maybe he would have considered dropping out as he got older.

I think its important that our own kids learn French. We live in Quebec, in the National Capital Region of Canada. We probably aren't going anywhere, so for them to get jobs (even as teens…) or do basically anything on the other side of rhe river, they need French. When I shop across the river, I always ask questions and respond to greetings by salespeople in French (unless I've heard them speak and know they're Anglophone)…in my opinion its just good manners to chat with store employees in their native language. Plus the cottage is in a very French area of Quebec…you really need it up there. We will enroll the boys in English school, but in the French immersion program. Why not just enroll them in French school? Well, talking to others who have had one of their kids in each system, the English schools are much better for kids who start kindergarten with no background in the language. The teachers are more patient, there isn't the "get off the playground, maudit anglais" taunting, since all of the kids are English. God knows there will be enough bullying in to worry about without adding language-based stuff to the mix. The quality of teaching in both systems is the same, so enrolling them in the English system won't be detrimental to their learning. The only thing I've heard is that the English boards don't get the same level of funding as the French, so they often do without new computers and proper teaching tools. That is unfortunate, but as far as I'm concerned, both kids will get their fill of technical knowledge from Jon and me since we're such huge geeks.

What I wish the provincial government would do is eliminate the need for the Piece of Paper. The loss of the French culture has nothing to do with Anglophones not learning the language…it’s the other way around. It seems to me that Francophones are being fed English culture (music, movies, etc.) and the youth are gobbling it up. If Quebecers want to preserve the language and culture, maybe they should be looking at their own people instead of putting the blame on us.

And since I'm in the venting mood…

Why is it that people think that pounding the crap out of the pedestrian crosswalk buttons will make the light turn faster? Almost every day I see it…I'm waiting to cross at Elgin to get to Sparks Street. There are pedestrian buttons to push, but I'm not exactly sure why they are there…to make us feel empowered maybe? Anyway, I walk up to a pole and push the button once. The little red light comes on. A chick smacking on gum and gabbing on her cell phone walks up and starts frantically pushing the damn button. I hate to tell you sweetheart, but once the little red light below the button is on, it doesn't matter how much you press the damn button…THE LIGHT WON'T CHANGE ANY FASTER. And I hate the smug look that some people get when they waltz up to an intersection, press the button and the light changes immediately. It was just good timing, so get over yourself...


Blogger ccw said...

I had no idea. Another interesting language post.

As for the people pounding the button, I don't know but I have always wanted to ask them. Maybe next time I will.

20/10/06 09:06  
Blogger Tanya said...

please do ask!! i'm never brave enough to say anything.

24/10/06 11:11  

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