1 December 2023

Sandrine Garcia is professor of sociology at the University of Burgundy. She publishes Teachers, from vocation to disenchantment (La Dispute editions, 256 pages, 17 euros), a book for which she interviewed resigning school teachers. They remain few in number, but this phenomenon is progressing and raises the broader question of the deterioration of teachers’ working conditions. All this, she writes, in a context of the generalization of “new public management”at work in France since the 2000s, which contracts the means allocated at the same time as it strongly empowers the agents.

Why are you interested in resigning from national education?

The teaching profession had the reputation of being privileged (holidays, autonomy), but the question of resignations began to emerge, even if it is not statistically significant: there were 0.24% of resignations in 2017-2018 . I realized that this profession that we thought we knew had changed very quickly, whereas for a long time we considered that the conditions were satisfactory, as in all the public service. Moreover, at national education, the issue of working conditions is completely taboo. The fantasy of a vocational profession is still there, whereas vocation depends on attractiveness: certain conditions must be met for this feeling to persist.

Also read the testimonials: Article reserved for our subscribers These teachers who remain, despite the “teacher malaise”: “Helping students to become adults, citizens, is the greatest victory”

Your book offers testimonials from resigners of various ages, from the trainee to the experienced teacher, passing through the reconverted, who returns to his old job… What do they have in common?

All have a fairly high idea of ​​their mission and are not ready to sit on this ideal. When they are told, as is the case for one of them, “this student, we have to be content to seat him at a table, we can’t hope for more”, they don’t accept it. They want to transmit knowledge, and if that is not possible, they prefer to do something else.

There is often a tipping point, for example when a teacher falls ill from burnout. The trigger can also be to be mistreated by an inspector, or to have a conflict with the parents. Some have experienced an event that made them realize that their difficulties were not taken into account.

Here is an example, which is not in the book: an accident occurs and two pupils die, it is necessary to organize psychological counseling for the whole school… And the person sent by the rectorate essentially says to the teaching team that accidents, ” it happens “. The desire to leave crystallizes in moments of conflict, with a family, a student, the institution.

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