If you want to read about education, but tired of long lists of indicators and fragmented news, try “Chagrin d’Ecole” – the book for education and more
Two years ago, I read a book that told me honest stories about education. I found myself in the stories as many did after reading reflections on the author’s early struggles with formal education.
I personally do not want to list this book as a novel only, because my understanding of education’s challenges did grow after reading this small piece of story. However, what sets this book apart from other education books is the personal approach the author used in painting the picture of education. Pennac is clearly not afraid to pull every string of his painful childhood memories to describe what transformed him from a terribly desperate pupil to a respectable educator and writer.
After going through the pages of Daniel Pennac, it becomes easier for me to understand the success of Finnish education. Many believes that this achievement is due to Finnish trust in teachers. But why ultimate trust in teachers plays such an important role in education? I hadn’t found the answers until the day I grabbed Pennac’s book from the store by chance. The title and demonstration image brought me back immediately to the days when I was a little “onion” with so many layers of anxiety, nervousness and boredom. And in a whim, I bought the book. The whim never lets me down.
The book won me over from the beginning, speaking directly what I always feel confused about our system “Since the dawn of education, the student considered as normal has been the student who puts up the least resistance to teaching, the one who doesn’t call our knowledge into question or put our competency to the test, a student who already knows a lot, who is gifted with instant comprehension, who spares us searching for the access roads to his grey matter, a student with a natural urge to learn, who can stop being a kid in turmoil or a teenager with problems during our lessons, a student convinced from the cradle that he has to curb his appetites and emotions by exercising his reason if he doesn’t want to live in a jungle filled with predators, a student confident that the intellectual life is a source of infinite pleasures that can be refined to the extreme when most other pleasures are doomed to monotonous repetition…”Here, he arrives at the heart of my uncomfortable feeling in the past, trying to imitate my good-student friends to receive warmness and encouragement from our teachers. His account is written with pain and care, and he reminds us that our education system have been stereotyping students since they are too young to unleash fully their uniqueness and talents to the world.
I have never regretted my decision to read this beautiful story. But why should the all-day-busy person like you needs to find time to read this? Let’s be real. If you haven’t taken the position of a parent or a coach, you will soon. Indeed, the harsh truth of growing up somehow separates us from the sensitive world of children. With this in mind, the book is a gift to bring us not only to our own childhood, but also closer to the fragile worlds of our little brother, little sister, and little child to somehow understand their rebellion in growing up. I did find this message in many movies including the two famous “3 idiots” and “Like stars on earth”, but nothing speaks this in such a humorous yet ironic way like Pennac did.
To end this note, I hope that if you ever come across the book’s title “Chagrin d’ecole”, or “School Blues” or “Nỗi buồn thời cắp sách”, believe me that the book is more than what you can see from the engaging title and expressive image. It is, to me, a privilege to read it.