“If the school succeeded in its massification, it missed its democratization”
Dn the last fifty years, we have gone from a situation where 3 pupils out of 4 did not have access to secondary education, to one where, today, all pupils enter it, stay there for at least five years and obtain , for nearly 90% of them, a baccalaureate which guarantees nothing in terms of shared culture and professional training.
It is easy to understand that such a revolution brutally and profoundly transformed the social composition and the cultural identity of the school population. When the barrier of a selection, which was admittedly deeply unfair and cruel, was lifted, a considerable number of children, previously excluded, found themselves thrown into a system which was not designed for them. It would therefore have been necessary for this school to change in depth in its content, its pedagogy, the training of its teachers and its professional goals. She has in fact remained almost identical to herself. The result today is as follows: if the school has succeeded in its massification, it has failed in its democratization, and its virtue of resilience has weakened year after year.
In our classes, nearly 15% of students have a bloodless vocabulary when entering CP; they acquire some ability to decipher words at age 8 when they should understand texts of about fifteen lines; they find it difficult to locate a few specific pieces of information at 12 years old when one would expect them to be independent readers capable of reading a marvelous tale, a mathematical statement or a scientific text with such efficiency.
“Inventing a ‘rescue’ system”
Brutally left to fend for themselves in the face of the disciplinary requirements of the college, these students will then scrape by for three or four years, taking no advantage of their secondary studies; the institution will write them off as profit and loss. Primary school kept them alive without really managing to bring them up to standard; the college completes them.
Some are directed towards professional courses, not because they want to excel in a manual trade but because they have been told that they are only good for that. As long as we accept that the failure, very early programmed, of the “ill-born” naturally leads to technical and vocational education, we will mark the latter with the iron of shame and frustration.
“The time has come to make a choice between a school of complacency and pretense and a school of resilience and justice”
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