Reality TV, French style

The New York Times has an article about a new French reality TV show called The Boarding School of Chavagnes/Le Pensionnat de Chavagnes. The premise of the show, which has drawn a large audience, is as follows:

Twelve girls and 12 boys ages 14 to 16 have been sequestered in a former seminary in the middle of France and plunged into the rigid, harsh French public school system of the 1950’s.

Ok, so we’ve seen that before, right? Did PBS have some kind of return to the olden days reality series? Though the cast of young children on Le Pensionnat is somewhat disturbing. Even more disturbing, though, is the fact that a return to rigid schooling may be on the horizon for French students throughout the country. The Times article reports that

Last month, Mr. Fillon [the education minister] announced that his ministry would soon issue a directive to return schools to traditional learning techniques, including a much greater emphasis on reading of required texts, memorization and recitations, taking dictation and writing structured essays.

Wow. That’s a real good idea if I’ve ever heard one. Cause, you know, memorization, that’s real learning, for sure.

On a personal note, I lived for several months in Nantes, near the town of Chavagnes-en-Paillers which lends its name to the title of the show. I was not forced to drink cod liver every morning, however.


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