Not often, but sometimes, they succeed and we are reminded by scenes of desperate parents lining up in front of department stores and then elbowing competitors, in the hope of securing a Cabbage Patch or a Tickle Me Elmo doll so that their child could have what others can't.
Wanting what we can't have is as human an emotion as love or hate, we just can't control it. Psychologists tell us that there are three contributing factors to the condition;
Heightened attention: When something is hard to get (or forbidden) you immediately pay more attention to it.
Perceived scarcity: When something is scarce or in short supply, its perceived value increases. You want it more because you think other people also want it.Last week, an ex-employee came to visit us at the office to reminisce and show off her three-year old daughter. She had gone off to start a family and was now pregnant with her second. During lunch she mentioned that she was sending her daughter to an English pre-kindergarten, in order to get her started on English, since later, the girl would be forced into French school, being the child of two francophones. I was a bit surprised to hear this news since the employee was unilingual and came from outside Montreal where English is not as big an issue.
“Psychological Reactance”: People don’t like to be told they can’t have or can’t do something. It’s related to not wanting to be controlled by others, especially if the situation feels unfair or arbitrary. From SELF-GROWTH.COM
It seems that her desire to give her child an English boost is not isolated. In fact, it has become somewhat of an obsession among Francophone parents, who want for their children, what the government refuses them.
It's a story as old as Adam and Eve and the relentless attraction of the 'forbidden fruit'
The more that the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the Mouvement Montréal français militate in favour of restricting access to English schools, the more demand there is for it among francophones!
Deliciously ironic eh?
And so Francophone parents who can afford it, are turning to private schools, which in spite of being forced to teach in French are making dramatic efforts to teach more English.
Of course this is completely opposite to what is happening in the French public schools, where the teaching of English is delayed until the third or fourth grade, ostensibly to avoid 'confusing' the children, but in actuality, an effort to retard their English skills.
This pro-active action by concerned parents to seek out English instruction has the government and French language militants even more determined to stamp it out. Already the government is looking to de-fund private schools. Recently, the education department fired the first shot to limit the spread of private schools by refusing funding to a newly built French private school, Collège Boisbriand, despite it being in complete legality. LINK (French)
Parent who can't afford private schools are looking at part-time English courses and other option like sending their kids to summer "English Camps" which are becoming popular, of late.
A while back, I wrote about the Académie Lavalloise, a private French school in the Montreal suburb of Laval that was threatened with closure for teaching too much English. LINK
I daresay that the attack by the education department made the parents even more determined to save their school and even more convinced of the importance of English. Despite the demand to reduce English instruction, the school will find a way, perhaps by extending the school day to teach English outside the normal curriculum or some other device. Where there's a will-there's a way, and there certainly appears to be a willingness by parents to fight for their children's future.
If parents are willing to line up and battle crowds for a Christmas toy, what lengths will they go to insure that their children are outfitted with the best educational skills, with English as a keystone?
Quite far, I suppose....
So thank you to Louis Prefontaine, Mario Beaulieu and all the other shrieking fanatics who are warning francophones of the dire consequences of learning English. Thanks for driving Quebeckers towards the forbidden fruit of English and keep up the good work.
Their monotonous harangues fit neatly the above-mentioned formula for getting people to crave what they cannot have!
We anglos couldn't have done a better job promoting our language.
And so English universities and Cegeps(colleges) are full to over-capacity with temporary classrooms required to handle the overflow. Dawson college has rented out extra classroom space in the Pepsi Forum (the old Montreal Forum of Canadiens fame) and John Abbott College has announced a $30 million expansion out in the west island.
While the numbers of Quebec Anglos remains stable, English cegep enrolment is up by about 15% this year, the increase coming from an unprecedented demand by francophones and allophones. Pressure on enrolment has been so high that entrance requirements have been stiffened and many decent students have been disappointed that they haven't made the cut. Ironically, some English students are being denied entry in favour of better performing francophones! LINK
Sadly over, on the French side, schools remain underpopulated and in consequence, entrance standards have fallen so low that you can actually get into cegep without finishing high school.
Yup......you really can. LINK (French)
What is the reaction to all this by French language militants?
What else, a demand that a law be imposed, refusing entrance to non-anglophones to English cegeps, this despite the fact that two-thirds of Quebeckers believe in free choice when it comes to the language of education.
How would the public react to any such law?
Likely by building more private cegeps that the government can't control. Already Quebec has a robust network of private colleges that cater to technical students. Schools like the Herzing Institute boast excellent results and an out-placement service that provides good jobs to over ninety percent of graduates.
If students have to pay for an English Cegep education, they will, it's only two years and should cost under twenty thousand dollars, a fee easy to recoup by the benefits of the higher earning power of those who are bilingual. Studies show that bilingual Quebeckers earn about 7.5% more than those who speak just French or English.
English remains the world's most powerful social force and banning Quebeckers from embracing it, is an effort destined to the same success as the Berlin wall.
Perhaps the Quebec education department should make a better effort to teach French than they are presently doing and stop worrying so much about English.
Here's a scene on the importance of teaching proper every day use of French as seen in the comedy TV show, "Les Bougon.