Born in 1924 in Paris, from an engineer father and a mother born Renée Le Boul, Bertrand Girod de l’Ain attended the Louis-Pasteur high school in Neuilly-sur-Seine (Hauts-de-Seine), then graduated from the Free School of Political Science. At the end of the war, in occupied Germany, he began his career at the Allied Control Council, before working, from 1949, at the delegation to the International Authority of the Ruhr, investing himself deeply in the Franco-German reconciliation. Soon, he tries his hand at foreign policy journalism, especially in weeklies The Observer And The Expressand at World, from 1952 to 1957, before being appointed head of the Education and Youth Department of the Worlda position he held from 1957 to 1970.
He was therefore the chronicler, enlightened and enlightening, of the great Gaullist period, an essential moment when educational institutions were structured into a real educational system which still essentially constitutes the foundation of our school. A vigilant observer in an essential moment. He will also be in the front row during May 68, recounting, not without sympathy, the beginnings of the occupation of the Sorbonne, before describing just as minutely the chaos of the last days of May, until the evacuation of the premises by the police.
In 1970, the new Paris-Dauphine University offered a lecturer position to Bertrand Girod de l’Ain, who left The world but continues its collaboration with the Culture department of the newspaper on an ad hoc basis. Now a professor of education sciences, he devoted himself above all to his new university functions and became director of the Center for Research on University Systems at the University of Paris-Dauphine.
However, it should not be believed that there were two completely sealed successive periods in the singular dual professional career of Bertrand Girod de l’Ain: that of the journalist observing developments in the school and university fields, then that of teacher-researcher in educational sciences. Firstly because it happened several times that he took up the pen again to The world. We can cite for example “Where is higher education going? “, in mid-November 1978, a series of articles on the policy of the Minister of National Education, Alain Savary, at the end of May 1983, or that on Lionel Jospin, at the end of June 1989.
A committed journalist
Above all, the period when Bertrand Girod de l’Ain was responsible for the Education and Youth Department at World is accompanied by a clear commitment. Having become a real protagonist in certain sectors of the educational field, he is not only an observant journalist, but also a committed journalist. From 1957 to 1971, he was also the editor of The Expansion of Scientific Researchreview of the Committee for the expansion of research, set up at the call of Pierre Mendès France.
In doing so, he will also be part (with in particular André Lichnerowicz, Jean-Louis Crémieux-Brilhac and the rector of the academy of Amiens, Robert Mallet) of the committee which will prepare a year in advance the colloquium of Amiens , held in March 1968, during which the rector Mallet declared that “The only way to avoid revolutions is to make them” and where the Minister of National Education, Alain Peyrefitte, had indicated in conclusion that he only saw a solution by “reform of teaching methods” and specified that “All this means that we want teachers who know, of course, what they are talking about, but also and above all who they are talking to”. In this conference, Bertrand Girod de l’Ain was co-president, with Louis Legrand, of the commission devoted to the initial and permanent training of teachers.
In a text written at the end of the book Reform the education system. For a new school, March 1968 (PUR, 2021), historian Antoine Prost, who knew him well, wrote: “Girod de l’Ain, in his stands at Worldhad the feeling of great freedom and a mission to fulfill. (…) The man was smart, he worked, he knew how to be at the right time in the right place. Finally, he had a certain insolence. He had in 1966, in a televised debate, asked live to the Minister of National Education, Christian Fouchet: “Minister, is it true that you have put your children in private education?” You have to feel legitimate to ask this question of a minister. Not just any journalist can do that. »
(The world presents to the family of Bertrand Girod de l’Ain its deepest and sincere condolences)
Bertrand Girod de l’Ain in a few dates
April 6, 1924 Birth in Paris
1957-1970 Head of the “Education and Youth” section at World
1970 Lecturer in education sciences at Paris-Dauphine University
January 27, 2023 Death in Paris