Sunday, March 24, 2013

Are the French Taught to be Unhappy?

Claudia Senik of the Paris School of Economics argues that, by objective criteria of well-being, the French ought to be happier than they are. She blames the school system for socializing them in gloom. I'd like to know more about this latter claim. The article is skimpy on detail. (h/t SR)

UPDATE: The paper in question is here. I haven't read it yet.

2 comments:

Kirk said...

I didn't read the paper, but it's an interesting point. I'm moving to England in two weeks. I wanted to move back to an English-speaking country, after 28 years in France, but not to the US. I've taken several trips to England in the past few months, and met with a lot of people, and have been amazed at how friendly and balanced they all seem. I'd been in England many times as a tourist, but things are different when you go to a conutry with such a perspective.

Thinking about that a few weeks ago, discussing with an English friend, it made me realize just how misanthropic the French are. The English seem to take a lot of things with less gravitas than the French, who are constantly complaining and neve satisfied with their lot. The general climate of mistrust and conflict in French culture certainly has roots somewhere; could it be planted at such an early age? Kids learn very young that their teachers hate their jobs, and strike and demonstrate a lot, so perhaps that's their first realization that things aren't that rosy...

Anonymous said...

It may be because put downs by teachers are common, bullying has gone legally unrecognized till last year and is still totally unchecked, and perspective for most middle to upper middle class kids who live outside the 5 or 6 biggest cities is quite limited since the odds they'll make it into one of the top "grandes écoles" is very low (looking at the percentage of legacies in the top grandes écoles + how many Grandes Ecoles have a lot of students who come from more than 10 or 15 schools would be interesting to know). In addition, people lie routinely, sometimes prefacing it by "normalement" so that certainty for most things is very low in customer service, work relations, etc, etc There's often an "official truth" and "real truth" for insiders (insiders aren't necessarily of a specific class, it depends on what you're looking at.)