Educated in France vs Raised in France

February 26, 2013

Educated in France vs. raised in France – what is la difference?

My maman sent me a letter from France yesterday (and yes, my dearly traditional parents to this day, refuse to get a computer. As my son says, (“Keeping the old world style alive”). In the letter, she broached a topic which resonated with a feeling that I’ve harbored for a long time and would like to share here, with you today.
My maman casually mentioned how my cousin brought their kids over for Sunday meal and she marveled at the fact that they were; bien éduqué.
My tendency up until then was to refer to éduqué, literally as in being well educated; school wise. So I thought, great they are going to a wonderful school and are super-duper smart. Here’s yet again another French kid that can give me a U.S. history lesson.
Upon further reflection, I was reminded that – “bien éduqué” to the French means well mannered or better yet, to know how to hold yourself. It is synonymous with bien élevé. It is an understatement to think that it is simply to be polite or obedient. The comment; either positive or negative “il/elle n’est pas bien éduqué,” is always a reflection on the parents of the child and not on the child themselves.
It brought forth the importance that the French hold toward well mannered and well behaved children, who are raised with a “savoir – faire”. They feel that understanding decorum, protocol and basic rules in civility are the forefront of being considered “socially educated” or cultivated, another word that is used regularly with the French.
The hope for most French parents is that whenever their child goes unattended they will know certain, basic ways to conduct themselves. Which, I think it is the same feeling here in the U.S..
Knowing that education (schooling) – is a big fat important topic in French culture, not to be comprimised. I smile at the thought that this very word is also used for behavoir…..also not to be comprimised.

As a child, the questions my mother would always ask me when I came home from a visit were; Did you thank the parents for having you over? Did say thank you for the meal? What did you bring up during conversation? It made me thoughtful and excited to be a part of discussions and dialogue.

Some real basics in being bien éduqué /bien élevé:
Bonjour – greetings when entering a room, of any kind really. You even see this when entering a boulangerie. The person entering the boulangerie will say a general “bonjour” to all. If it is your first meeting with that person, to say hello/introduce yourself to each and every person. It is very endearing to me now when I am in France to see children (young boys) shaking hands, and girls with la bise (cheek kiss).
Au revoir – saying goodbye to your host or friends parents. No one would think of leaving someone’s without saying goodbye first.

Raising kids the french way – you tube Gillian

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Etiquette article

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