Another busy day today which started with breakfast at Bolivar school with our partner schools. On our way to the school we saw a French ‘Lollipop Man’ though his lollipop was tiny in comparison to Jenny’s. We were taken to different classrooms to observe the children. Mr Carney saw a phonics and handwriting lesson with a class of 6 year olds. It was strange to see chalkboards being used by both children and staff. The reason for this is that chalk is cheaper than the pens we use on our whiteboards in school! There was also a list of items that parents had to buy for their child. After this he watched a PE lesson where the children played a very simple but fun game which involved running to a vacant position in a square without being caught- we will show you how to play it when we get back.
Mr Burke observed an English lesson on the topic food where the children fully engaged in the lesson in a similar way to the way we engage in our Spanish lessons with singing, rhyme and general fun. Both of us were also interviewed by different classes- if we had a pound for every time we were asked about Mo Saleh we would be very rich men!
After this we presented our world war one poems to our partner schools. They were extremely impressed with the quality and they were genuinely moved by the words of the poems which clearly highlighted the horrors of war. Other schools also shared their research on the war – our Spanish partners made a game while our Romanian partners produced some postcards.
We also confirmed our next steps in the project which will include developing pen pals, investigating and producing a brochure on important women in our countries, sharing our practice on how we teach history lessons and how we celebrate the peace day, It was also encouraging that our partner schools shared our concerns over Internet Safety so it was agreed that we would all share our good practice on Internet safety Day which is in early February. After a wonderful lunch provided by the staff of both schools we were treated in the afternoon to a wonderful dance performance by the children of the lower school.
Although the children in Bolivar schools do not wear uniform there are many similarities with our school – the most obvious one is that the children are clearly happy at school and work hard. A great school and a super partnership!
In the afternoon, a group of teachers from Bolivar A and B had arranged a walking tour of Paris for the visiting teachers. We all met at the medieval church of St. Eustache, which had been chosen as the starting point of the tour. It was explained to us that, although Paris was an ancient city dating back to before the time of the Romans, there are not many very old buildings or streets. This is mainly because of two men: the Emperor Napoleon III and the architect and town planner Baron Haussmann.
In the 1850s, Paris was a warren of narrow, dirty and disease ridden streets. Napoleon III had visited London earlier in his life and had been impressed by the buildings, the wider streets and the parks that he had seen there. When he became Emperor, Napoleon was determined to rebuild Paris and he employed Baron Haussmann to do the job for him. Bothe Napoleon and Haussmann agreed that the new Paris should have wide streets – this was because the old, narrow streets had encouraged disease and also because it was less easy for potential revolutionaries to set up barricades when the avenues were so wide. The two men also agree that the new city should have beautiful buildings and Haussmann was inspired by the classical buildings of Ancient Greece and Rome. Our guides showed us examples of the type of buildings designed by Haussmann and they were indeed very impressive.
Our next stop was the Palais du Louvre, now well known as a museum and art gallery and the home of the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and many other priceless works of art. Before being turned into a museum, the Louvre was the main Royal Palace in the centre of Paris. We were shown around an immense courtyard which was surrounded by beautiful buildings dating from the 16th and 17th Centuries. From the Louver we continued to the Palais Royal, another former Royal Palace which used to be the home of the King’s most important minister or adviser. We were shown around the palace’s beautiful, peaceful gardens – a real hidden gem in the heart of the city!
From there we continued through an area which contained a great number of highly expensive-looking shops until we came to the final stop on our tour – the Grand Opera of Paris. This wonderful building was also the idea of Napoleon II – he had recently survived an assassination attempt while visiting the old opera house and he wanted a new one to be designed which would offer him a bit more security. It was just as well he did, because before the new opera house was finished the old one burned down! Sadly for him, Napoleon never got to see an opera in his magnificent creation – he was deposed in 1870 after losing a war against Germany, a number of years before the opera house was completed.
It had been a really enjoyable tour of Paris. It is always better to experience a city or any unfamiliar place in the company of local people who can show you places the guide books don’t tell you about. Our guides were well informed and provided a lively and humorous commentary throughout the tour. It is one of the many fond memories we take back with us at the end of our memorable stay.