36 hour weeks for kids

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I think working less for “living” more is a wonderful ambition — afterwards there are economics and lifestyle choices & values that come into play. However, recently, I counted up how many hours my son works for his schooling. And the irony is that, with 26.25 hours of classes and about 10 hours of homework in a week, he eclipses the 35-hour work week that is the law for many working adults in France. As a kid approaches the baccalaureat (18 years old), the scholarly hours mount up and, in some weeks, must get close to 50 hours. While I am on the topic of hours worked, I think that medical student hours (esp in the US) are quite insane — but none more so than the amount the newly minted doctor must do when he/she gains the first [brutal] internship. An intern who hasn’t slept for 36 hours having to perform an operation…?

All that said, back to the topic in hand, having an average adult working less than a 10 year old child? All in all, un peu fou, non?

Image credit from Amazon. Book cover for “Generation 35 heures” by Thibault Lanxade

5 Comments, RSS

  1. Yendi

    Je pense que cet article est tres interessante et envoie le aux “Grandes Gueules” Radio RMC http://lesgrandesgueules.rmc.fr//
    Il est bon de preciser que tu n’as pas compte dans le temps d'”etudes” (et non pas de travail) des enfants les recreations ni les activites physiques, en revanche tu as inclus les activites artistiques (dessin, musique). Oui non enfants travaillent beaucoup plus que certains, et nous ne faisons que de parler de l’ecole elementaire. Arrives au bac, on etudie (travaille) encore plus. Mais pour certains le travail, c’est une passion, un plaisir, et non pas une corvee. C’est pour ca que nous voulons que nos enfants travaillent bien a l’ecole:
    pour leur ouvrir les portes du choix et leur apprendre que dans la vie quelque soit le travail qu’ils vont choisir, c’est important de se lever le matin et d’etre contents d’ aller travailer.

  2. Eric BLOT

    Je déjeunais avec un ami français qui vit en Silicon Valley depuis 15 ans. Il me racontait qu’il y a quelques jours le PDG d’un centre d’affaires (plug and play) lui demandait ce qu’était les 35H.
    Mon ami expliquant le principe à la façon d’un journaliste (en fait il est le correspondant des Echos) a vu le type en face ne pas en revenir : 35H c’est le max per week ???
    Celui-ci d’appeler immédiatement tous ses amis et collègues pour improviser une discussion nourrie autour de ce concept. Il faut dire que Plug and Play trouve ses clients parmi les nombreux étrangers qui viennent tenter leur chance aux US (et que pour l’instant il n’y a pas des masses de français). Il cherchait donc à en savoir un peu plus sur notre french culture.

  3. Maureen Rogers

    Zut alors! Comments on your blog are in French?

    The idea of a 35 hour work week is shocking to Americans, who are led to believe that a “professional week” requires a minimum of 50 hours at work. But, as you say, there are trade-offs, and Western Europe seems to have made some good ones: fewer SUVs and McMansions in exchange for what everyone who visits Paris comes back saying: “these people sure know how to live.”

    Yet we (Americans) also know that our economy is more vibrant, less calcified, etc. But if all we’re doing with this vibrancy is buying a lot of crap to stuff in our too big cars to drive to our too big houses, well who’s to say we’ve made the better bargain.

  4. Goose

    that is amazing. i had a great discussion whilst in ireland (over guinness, no less) with miss ariel on the “benefits” of living along the western edge of the european time zone (france, spain, you get the idea) where daylight during summer hours is extended well towards hours considered “nighttime” in the usa. i told her that the french idea of eating late, going to sleep later, waking later-er, and starting work late-e-erer had big upside. besides which, from an individual’s point of view (given the mass of “middle classed people”) why does a nation’s economy matter if you do well in school and score a secure, well-to-do job/career? if you make the same amount of money in paris as you do in westchester, why not live in paris, where you absorb so much more of the day (and all the things that go with it: culture, interaction, outdoors, sports, hobbies) than living in the rat race of suv’s, rush hour, and mandated 8pm television viewing?

    more simply put: this is why i remain in school.

  5. Minter

    There are several areas of positive development, it occurs to me, happening on both sides of the Atlantic. On the US side, I observe an increasing [coverage of] the movement toward the “greening” of the cities; a nascent “less is more” concept (Oprah); and the proliferation of on-line second-hand trading (ebay, craigslist, olx) which is altering our consumeristic tendancies (hopefully for the better). In France, I see business’ efforts to render service, oftentimes considered poor, toward greater humanity; I see the determination of Sarkozy along with his mandate to change the economics of the country; an every increasing productivity rate and longer holidays. With TiVo type technologies we will be able to avoid the 8pm obigation (Goose) and I sure hope that SUVs disappear everywhere (I’m with you Maureen). Whatever happens at school, (nice one Goose), let’s make the chidren get the best education! It’s not about the number of hours, but the quality of the teachers and the importance of good follow up at home. And, as you say Yendi, most important that children feel the motivation and passion to learn, because that is Life.

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