Friday, April 09, 2010

Now I miss teaching, darn it!

Fifteen minutes in front of a class of four-year-olds and I'm a goner. I'll admit it here: I miss teaching. (Except the grading papers part and the departmental politics and the too-common apathetic students with enormous feelings of entitlement.)

My (very) short stint as the preschool's resident expert on France was great fun. My "hook" was asking them what they had for breakfast, and then telling them that typically, kids in France don't have eggs and bacon and cereal for breakfast like their American counterparts. I passed around realistic-looking papier mache breads (baguette and croissant) and had them all cup their hands as if they were drinking hot chocolate out of a bowl. They were very impressed that French children can have hot chocolate for breakfast and don't have to drink it out of a mug. (Is this even true these days? It's been a while since I dined with a four-year-old in France.*)

They also seemed to enjoy squeezing the stuffed Eiffel Tower that I passed around the circle, and they were noisily appalled at the idea that cheese can also be made from goat and sheep's milk and that the French put extra mold in some of their cheese. On purpose!

And then when I taught them some very basic dance moves for "Sur le pont d'Avignon," they all willingly hooked elbows with a classmate and danced and bowed and curtsied when I told them to. (This is perhaps the greatest difference between teaching French to preschoolers and teaching French to college students. The most I ever managed was getting my French I students to grudgingly do the Hokey-Pokey when we studied the vocabulary for body parts. No way would they have hooked elbows to swing their partner. Especially since we were outside in the quad.)

Merci beaucoup to everyone who offered suggestions on what I could cover in my presentation!

*I'm not sure that I ever actually had a meal with a young child in France, actually. I'll have to remedy that next time I travel! Let me know if I can borrow your kid for lunch.


  1. >>>>They were very impressed that French children can have hot chocolate for breakfast and don't have to drink it out of a mug. (Is this even true these days? It's been a while since I dined with a four-year-old in France.*)>>>>>

    Afraid so. Chocolate is still one of the main food groups for all ages. For small kids, it's often a bowl of Banania or Nesquick for breakfast, or chocolate puff-type cereal with more chocolate powder added to the milk, or "tartines", i.e. Nutella (and sometimes a layer of butter first) on white bread, not necessarily baguette. Then they have a pain au chocolat or Kinder chocolate bars or a Danette chocolate pudding cup or Prince, BN or Petit écolier cookies as a mid-morning snack and again for the afternoon goûter. Many adults have nothing but black coffee for breakfast, though some go for Nutella or prepackaged Lu breakfast cookies, usually chocolate-based. There is an entire aisle in grocery stores devoted to flat chocolate bars ("tablettes") of all sorts, a staple in every household. The yearly chocolate consumption for the average French citizen is estimated at 3 kg, right? Something like that. But I think I heard that the Swiss and Belgians are even bigger chocolate eaters.
    Sounds like you had a great class!
    Sarah (another one, in France)

  2. Now I am wishing I had been born French! Chocolate for breakfast, oh la la!

    sounds like you had a great time, Sarah! I am so happy to be teaching again - I didn't realize how much I missed it.

  3. @Sarah--I remember remarking how few breakfast cereals were available in French grocery stores (at least that was the case 15 years ago) but that the Mueslix, definitely geared towards adults, had chocolate chips in it!

    I hadn't realized how choco-centric French children's breakfasts and snacks are. Yikes!

    @Jeanne--I'm glad you're enjoying being back in the German classroom, even if it keeps you crazy-busy.

  4. Delurking to say yep, or should that be ouais, chocolate is everywhere in France. I am still shocked 5 years in that Nutella on white bread constitutes a healthy brekkie and how the choco cereals have added vitamins. I must admit I do eat the Lu Breakfast biscuits but they've recently brought out low sugar museli ones. Hot choc in a bowl is still out of the question though for me. Someone invented the mug for a reason!

  5. Hee hee! Sorry to take over your lovely blog on raising a bilingual child, Sarah, with meditations on French children's exposure to chocolate. But it is kind of fascinating and should be the basis of an article or a book somewhere. When I mention the carrot sticks and fruit and brown bread with peanut butter that I ate at snacktime as a child, some people shrug their shoulders in disbelief and remain convinced that American children eat junk, and lots of it, while French children have their palates cultivated from the first critical moments of "diversification alimentaire" at 6 months. I guess 0.5% cocoa-derivative is considered a noble spice.

  6. @Sarah--Yes, there is definitely the basis for an article (or more) there. And I nominate you to write it :). Talk about busting up stereotypes, both about the French and Americans!

    I also remember how exotic my French high school students found peanut butter, which seemed so sticky and mundane to me. Is that still a novelty over there?

  7. I spent three years of my childhood in France, and definitely picked up their chocolate obsession. I haven't left nearly 18 years ago, but the other Sarah's description of French breakfasts matches my childhood memories...

  8. Oh, and I accidentally hit publish before saying, glad your presentation went well!

  9. Sarah, Why don't you teach a writing class at the library? It could be a creative nonfiction class for adults; or something for middle schoolers. (Or am I adding too much to your plate. I just figured, if you had an itch, you might want to scratch it...)

  10. Estela, that's crazy talk! But I *will* be tutoring Betsy, her husband, and another couple this summer prior to their trip to Paris in September.

  11. Oh, that's very cool. Tell Betsy I miss her. Some days I wish I was a turtle and the library was my shell. That way, it'd always be close to me, however far I roamed.