French children behave well in public, because parents and teachers have crushed their spirits, writes Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in The Atlantic.
Now that I have a child, my almost monomaniacal obsession is how to protect her from French parenting and French education, which is why we are considering Montessori schools and homeschooling/unschooling rather than put her in French schools. (Let me rephrase that: I am considering setting myself on fire rather than put her in French schools.)
The way French education works, and I don’t know if I could put it in a more charitable way, is that it seeks to mercilessly beat any shred of nonconformity out of children (the beating is now done mostly psychologically) so that they may be slotted into a society that, itself, treats nonconformity the way the immune system treats foreign elements.
American parenting and education “leaves more room for children to express their individuality,” Gobry writes. French parenting turns out well-behaved children, but “I wouldn’t recommend it if you want healthy, happy adults.”