Monday, 2 August 2010

Reading, writing and 'rithmetic - in War time France

Sorry, but these books are all sold
I recently sold some school books to a collector, and thought you might like to see what French children used to learn at school during World War II.

Gilbert and Michelle, grew up in a village not far from here, near to Nontron in Dordogne. Most of the books I found belonged to Gilbert, and he went on to do a special course 'for boys' to include woodworking, simple electricity, plumbing etc.

My two children, born in Britain, now teenagers, have gone through the French education system, and I can tell you now that nothing has changed since 1939! They still have to cover their books with old wallpaper etc, use the first page of their 'cahier' or exercise book as a title page, using beautiful script, and introducing the lesson. All work is marked out of 20, in red ink, and with cryptic comments from the teacher, with marks lost for untidiness, spelling mistakes etc.

My kids' work is still marked and graded in the same way - the pass mark is 10 out of 20 and no-one ever gets 20! Of course, my son's easiest lesson is English - he regularly gets 19 out of 20 and rightly so, but sometimes is asked by the teacher if something is correct. He has had to correct his English teacher a few times - very diplomatically of course - for saying the plural of toast is 'toasts' and for pronouncing the 'r' in ironing etc.

I often wonder about Gilbert and Michelle - what happened to them during their occupation in the war - did they survive? I hope so.

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