24 March 2010

Degree in Disco Lights

If you've been reading my blog you’ll know that J is doing an Open University degree in Kitchen and Fridge Management and I’m proud to say that she recently achieved a 96% pass mark for her latest assignment. Apparently she had to work out which shelf to put fresh milk on and that lettuce went in the ‘salad drawer’. Successfully getting ice cubes to drop down the chute and into a glass was an optional assignment which gave her some bonus marks. She’s a clever girl!

On Saturday we all travelled down to Antibes to a Lyceé (pictured) which specializes in Computing Science and where Guy might eventually go later this summer if his marks are good enough. Lyceé is the 4th and final part of the school education system (maternelle, primaire, collège and lyceé) and determines if a student enters the university system.

This particular Lyceé was holding an Open Day to publicise its courses and facilities and I have to say I was quite impressed. As you approached the front door, senior students would accost you and drag you off to the relevant part of the establishment where college lecturers were waiting to explain the various courses and bemoan the selection system which is quite bizarre. The collège (where Guy is now) sends his marks to a central clearing house with his preferences in terms of Lyceé and subject and they simply choose who to send where. No interviews by the college, no understanding about the fact that Guy is a budding IT expert, probably no consideration of where the student lives, just a list telling the ‘clearing house’ how many times he’s missed classes and his marks in the major subjects.

Dragging the IT lecturer into a corner and using my ‘extensive’ experience of IT and networks (who am I kidding?) I started quizzing him on how many students could actually speak English well enough to understand the universal IT language which is – English, obviously trying to push Guy’s excellent bi-lingual capabilities. He rather took the wind out of my sails when he showed me a whole range of network manuals in French but as he flicked through the pages I spotted a section in English – it was something to do with network protocols or whatever and of course I said, ‘ah ha – they’ll need English for that bit won’t they, and when they do the Cisco Accreditation, they’ll need good English for that’. I had no idea whether what I was saying was correct or not but it just seemed strange to me that in a French Collège (in France) there was a large Cisco Accreditation Certificate on the wall - in ENGLISH! ‘Mais oui. Bien sur’, he replied. I smiled smugly and said Guy was totally bilingual. He wandered off. He didn't seem impressed.

I then went off to find J and Guy who had become a bit embarrassed by my rather Anglo-centric attitude and had wandered off to find the ‘first year’ workshop. I strolled in and despite my limited French understood that that the lecturer in this workshop was explaining that all students had to study the workings of washing machines, burglar alarms, telephone systems and disco lights during their first 12 months.

Scuse me – disco lights? Yes! And there they were – strung all along the ceiling of the workshop and flashing green, red and blue. Why hadn’t I seen them when I wandered in?

And so there we have it. If everything works out J will get an MBA in Kitchen and Fridge Management and Guy will get an Honours Degree in Disco Light synchronization. What a house! What a family! What a country!

PS - Nigel's latest posting from New York is now available. Watch out for the bad language.


1 comment:

Allison said...

This post really made me laugh - your sarcasm is always so funny and makes even the worst of my days light up a bit :) I always look forward to reading your posts and appreciating your witty remarks!
Glad all is well with you!