This sentence was not heard in a supermarket or in a random store, no, this was the title of an email I received a few weeks ago at school.

Let me give you some context: I have been teaching in a French business school (we are offering more than only business courses but it’s easier for me to explain this way) for two years now, and I am Head of Department since September 2020. France’s educational system is crumbling, let’s be clear, the high school diploma (baccalaureat) doesn’t mean anything anymore and the current Education secretary basically destroyed the whole idea behind (it used to be a national degree, not it depends on your high school, say hi to inequalities). Anyway, as the term was over, we (the Director of Studies and I) checked everybody’s report card, and discussed to warn some students about their results or their behavior. Nothing out of the ordinary so far.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not enjoy warning a student about their bad grades, or bad behavior. I am teaching at this level because I don’t want to deal with angry parents unable to see that their precious little angel is a brat. Above 18, in France, parents cannot say anything: if they do, I’ll literally won’t answer, as the student is responsible for himself (in theory), but I am always available to my students. They know they can reach out easily if they encounter a problem. My point is, we sent an email to a student, who I had talked to numerous times this year about his low grades and his really bad attendance, to tell him that he had failed some classes and had to take them again the following year.

Bear in mind that I told him more than once (since February!) that if he continued this way, he would fail, and he became a fully fledged slacker nonetheless. So after calling us to blame online classes and the whole covid mess, as the title implies, he sent me an email asking for the manager.

We are still talking about a kid who doesn’t work, doesn’t show up to class, has an atrocious GPA but he wants to speak because obviously, according to him, he shouldn’t fail. No, we (the teachers) have been mean to him personally because we don’t like him. That must be the reason. Of course, it’s the reason. Also, he is paying, therefore he cannot fail. My DoS didn’t appreciate the email and answered back that since it was a school, and not Walmart, there was no way he could speak to the manager. Guess the kid’s reply?

“I’ll find a school where I’ll be more considered.”

Be my guest. Since Education is a lucrative business, and a wicked one I might add, I was not surprised by his reaction. This student will indeed find another school, but that doesn’t mean he will get his degree at the end (especially since it’s a national one). The problem is quite simple actually: since it’s a business, the student is treated like a client, after he is paying, right? Learning something, anything, is not even the point here, since it’s obtaining a piece of paper. You probably roll up your eyes now, but think about it, if you browse a bit the internet right now, you’ll find dozens of online “degrees”. There is nothing to learn here, no exams to take, of course, since it’s entirely empty. Sure, you can brag about the degree, but at the end, where are the skills?

Education is getting emptied, and my little blogpost is not going to change anything, since most governments right now are clearly not interested by it. I am an old-fashioned gal: I studied for my degrees, I had to reach a certain level to obtain them and when I decided to become an English teacher, I didn’t decide to scam people by getting a fake TEFL certificate (the kind FB advertises every five minutes). I could have, since it takes approximatively five seconds. But, no, I can’t accept a student who thinks he can speak to the manager because this is not Target, this is school, and it still means something to some people. Learning still means something, you can’t fake it, even though dozens of online ads are telling you otherwise.

Dear students, you can appeal your teachers’ decisions to the headmaster, that’s your right. But if we are indeed failing you, it’s not because we want to bully you, since we have nothing against you personally. You deserve to fail, especially if you have been warned numerous times before to adjust your grades/behavior. Education is not free, but you are not entitled to anything here. And if you can’t accept that, I guess you better find another place to go, but be sure that you will have a hard time later in life. It just won’t be my problem anymore.