A pink taxi

A pink taxi

March 13, 2012


Six more years before graduation from high school with a French Baccalaureate. In France, they perform a grand final countdown of classes before you reach Terminale! What a name for such an academic experience: it is as bad at it sounds.

My son is in Cinquieme. I was there in 1982 and I remember the feeling with avid details and emotions. It may be one of the easiest year in the tough French curriculum, but it is also a "messy, overwhelming" year. I remember my mind was elsewhere and my course work was spread out, messy, all over the place. How I managed to retain any skills and/or information that year, I don't know.

I believe turning twelve/thirteen is the most charming time of our lives. We are at the threshold of teenager years, still holding on to the innocence of our childhood, but attempting our first independent steps in the huge world. Perhaps this is why the class has been designed to give the students a breather, a time to recollect and especially to learn organizational skills. They are given responsibilities, deadlines, they are asked to take proper notes, to organise their days and their homework. My son, like myself in the day, finds himself with a mess of papers, a mix of deadlines, open ended questions and a search for shortcuts.

Its all part of growing up, maturing to focus on one task at a time, to gather information, to recognize what is important and what is most important, to hold on to precious information without loosing it, to deduct, to analyse, to summarize, to organise.

Eventually he will find his own system, he will make his own decisions, he will take bold steps and make extra effort. Till then, his desk, his school bag and even his head will be messy, disorganized and disparate.....I am surprised I was able to pass Cinquieme, challenged as I was to organise my academic life at a time when imagination drew me away from it all.....


  1. The French system despite its brilliance,is a torture system,especially that it uses the countdown system instead of the upgrade one.
    Even the 13th year is called "Terminal" which doesnot sound good either.In the British system they call it "Advance Level" which is promising while the American system ends at the 12th year,and avoids the lucky number 13.

  2. I didn't like junior high or high school. I don't think many people look back on those years with fondness. Thank God Depeche Mode got me through those tough years!

  3. The advent of teenage years is such a complicated and messy event. It's not the educational system that is the root of the confusion. It's the hormones! You are on the brink of adulthood, your body has suddenly changed, you are literally morphing from caterpillar to butterfly, but the metamorphosis takes a long time. Suddenly you become aware of yourself in a different way. You look in the mirror and notice flaws as well as beauty. You wonder what others think of you....you may be experiencing the immense torment of your first crush. The torture that it presents to you, just a taste of things to come....But it is so overwhelming to you because it happens without notice. You wake up one morning, and you are a teenager....