Friday, August 22, 2008

Ready to go

Following on from my vivent les vacances post about six weeks ago, I can safely report I got through steps 1-3 pretty smoothly, except for building the flatpack wardrobe. It's huge, made of MDF and weighs a ton; I'm sure MDF is made from the cores of neutron stars. Ever wondered why you never see HDF? It's because it collapses under its own weight into a singularity before they can make anything out of it.

Anyway, with the new school year just over a week away, the annual moan about the cost of sending kids to school is beginning in earnest. Even though the government does make extra money available, there's always someone who says it isn't enough, and the news always pick up on the "cost" of la rentrée as though parents needed to buy a whole new set of things every year. I hate to sound like an old fart, but in my day I had the same set of rulers, calculators and stuff for all the time I was in secondary school; I didn't need a new pencil case and schoolbag every September. They even include the cost of new clothes, which I could understand if French state schools had uniforms, but they don't (even then, when I was at school you got a blazer several sizes too big when you started secondary, it just about fitted when you were 13 or 14 and only just covered your elbows by the time you sat O-Levels) and it's hardly an extra cost, unless the kids would run around naked and barefoot if they didn't have to send them to school.

OK, I'm being a bit frivolous, and I'm sure there are plenty of families who really do need extra help. I can particularly see the sense in extra help for students in vocational colleges, as they often need to buy specialist gear even though they often come from the poorest families (as in most countries, French middle class families consider learning a trade at 16 to be for other people's children). But it's still got to be cheaper then giving up work and home schooling the little darlings.