Letters to the Editor - Disappointment and disbelief…
This letter is about disappointment in the French Private Sector. It is about a little girl who entered kindergarten with lots of excitement for this new experience in her life!
It all began two years ago when we had to begin thinking about our daughter’s education. We had to decide like most parents in Quebec whether it would be English, French or bilingual education. We deliberated for two years! We visited three schools: our public bilingual school that we are zoned for, a private French school with an excellent reputation within a 10 minute drive from our home and a French Religious Private school on the island. My husband felt strongly that our daughter should have a bilingual education in Quebec because we are Anglophone at home and both languages are equally important. Whereas I felt strongly about a French education because being in the education system for 11 years I have seen how difficult it is to learn the French language and how much easier it is to find a job if you are perfectly French!
So I decided it would be the French prestigious private school in our area because we live in Quebec and it is important to speak and write in French. I went against my husband’s opinion and he supported me 100 percent. What a big mistake?
After 10 days of school, my daughter explains to me that she has been sitting at the teacher’s desk during class time. That she has no friends because they dislike her. Why? I asked her. She says they tell me all the time to “Arrête”! And one girl her only ally of the same culture explains to my daughter that her mother has told her not to play with her anymore. Why? I ask again. My daughter explains to me isn’t that mean mommy that a mom would tell her daughter not to play with me! I was devastated! I was hurt! I was disappointed!
On that 10th day of class, we received a progress report! My husband and I thought they had given us another child’s report. It was negative and clearly there was a language barrier! At my daughter’s preschool and at all her extracurricular activities I was told that my daughter was ahead of her time, intelligent, a quick learner, a team player and most of all, an empathetic child who cares about others and their feelings. This report described a child with lack of concentration, unable to follow directions, a cheater and a liar (explained because she doesn’t understand)! Well, of course not! That’s why I’m sending her to French school! To learn!
On that 10th day of class, I picked up my daughter and asked her who she sat with and she said at the teacher’s desk alone. I asked her who did you play with and she said “no one, I have no friends”. I had had enough. From my personal experiences, I have seen what happens to children’s self- esteem when they don’t fit in! And I didn’t want that for my child. I spotted one of her teachers in the schoolyard and approached her! I asked her why my daughter is sitting on her own. She explained because she doesn’t understand anything! I asked her why do the children always tell her Arrête?
The teacher explains because they don’t have anything in common with your daughter because she is Anglophone and they are Francophone! And finally, she told me “I don’t speak English and your daughter continuously speaks English”. So does this mean that for the first 10 days of school my daughter has been ignored!
Oh my God! What have I done? What have I put my daughter through for the first experience of her schooling in kindergarten? What a disgrace for a teacher to say that children don’t have anything in common because of a language? Children play no matter what language they speak, no matter what color they are? But my daughter was not given a chance because she was being segregated from the rest of the class. To learn a new language you have to be immersed in it not separated from it!
Now if the teachers were putting my daughter aside then what were the children being taught. That there is something wrong with her, that she is not good enough to be a part of the class and our teams. How could she have made friends? She was labelled as the Anglophone!
What a disappointment? My heart was dedicated to my child having a French education. I made all necessary changes in our everyday lives! Why is that we accepted but that these teachers did not accept our daughter? Our effort was there 100 percent. We believed but were not given a fair chance?