The Longer the Better (or not)

On this «going back to work eve», a few quick thoughts on the long French summer holidays, which, many moons ago were far longer.

So, a spot of history.

Twas back in 1936, under the auspices of the left wing coalition  governemnt that called itself «Le Front Populaire», that French workers got their frist ever summer play time – a fornight’s statutory paid summer leave for «all those who travail and are heavy laden» – as the Good Book says.

Read news reports of the time, and you see that French bosses were up in arms. Pretty much like today, and time off for the workers would be the first step on the road to economic wrack and ruin for the country. Well, France is still here, and the national holioday industry is thriving.

First reports in from tourist industry bosses say that it has been a good season for the nation’s tourist industry. Eraly July was good, late July a bit sluggish and August sems to have broken all records. Seems to ad fuel to all those who want to reduce the length of the French summer break and have us all go on holiday from mid July to late August.

As with very summer, there were regular reports on the news about all the kill joys who want to reduce the long summer  eight week break into a mere fortnight’s formality.

Now, many years ago (we’re talking mid to late fifties) the French summer vacation wasa full three months long – rom late June to the end of September. The ethos behind such long summer holidays was pretty simple – it was to liberate kids in rural areas so they could help first with the harvests in late June and early July and then with the grape harvests in September.

Nowadays, harvesting is mechanised and the late August to early September grape picking has become the prseerve of the local unemployed, augmented by Polish and Romanian seasonal  labourers.

Thos historical and cultural reasons for having long summer holidays have long disappeared. However the long summer vacation perssists, and for all those who are against the long vacation, there re just as many who like the idea.

Those against the long holidays would like to see the traditional seven to eight week vacation reduced to four weeks. two months away from schol is far too long. Kids forget what they have learned. Kids get bored. Distraught working mums have to seek out willing and expensive child minders to look after their kids during the summer holidays. As for the kids, well you get loads of «clever»  and «preformatted» kids polluting the French media throughout the summer, echoing their parents’ views.

«The holidays are too long.»

«We get bored during the holidays.»

«We want to get back to school to see our friends.»

Well for the last two arguments at least, when I see the plethora of free holiday activities on offer in  my town for local kids, I wonder how in the name of Pete, they have time to get bored. If your parents bother to take the time to sign you up for local holidays clubs, you can do everything from quad bike riding and horse riding to cookery courses and science workshiops everyday of the holidays from nine through til six. Most free of charge.

As for the «friends» argument. Well, just call up your mates and arrange to meet during the holidays. The majority of French kids go to school at the end of their street, so most of the «mates» live almost down the same street.

I’m fed up with all thses moaners who say the holidats are too long.

As a teacher I’m fed up with all thses people who say that our holidayas are too long. If you wanted long holidays then why didn’t you become a teacher?

With our 35 hour working week, a majority of workers in the private sector get time off in lieu – meaning that many still work a 40 hour week, but the exrrat time they work is given to them in extra annual leave. On top of the 6 weeks statuttory annual leave, many Frech workers now get an extra four to five weeks annual leave thanks to the shorter working week. Asz for civil servants and other public sector workers, they get pretty much the same treatment.

On a final note. The other day, I gave a lesson to a French army colonel ( I work for the French army). The six kid, 4500€ a month Colonel said to me (jokingly) – «Teachers have long holidays don’t they.» All this from a bloke who had just taken six weeks of his annual ten week leave and who earns twice what I do for doing two times less.

«If you’re jealous» I said «why don’t you become a teacher?»

The the guy tels me that he took too much holiday. The I told him that I had worked three to four hours a day during the hols preparing lessons. (almost true)

So, if your kids are too thick to go back to school after the summer break, then just sign them up in one of numerous organisations offering summer holiday courses.`

If your holidays are too long, then just take less holiday.

I usty pray for the day that the government finally reduce the summer holidays to a minimum and then all those whop complain that the existing holidays are too long, can  compalin that the holidaysa are too short.