Give meaning back to the education professions

Minister,

Your appointment, in my eyes, like the eyes of many, was a pleasant surprise. Your academic work, your commitments, your positions are, in fact, the guarantee of a major change in the leadership of National Education. You work on discrimination and emancipation; in many cases, you have fair, uncompromising and at the same time comforting words on important social issues; you have embodied the struggle for equal rights in what is the most fundamental for our future … This, for teachers, like all staff in National Education and Popular Education, strong signs that make us hope for a real change.

You come to the head of a crumbling and crumbling institution. An institution of hasty reforms, carried out without real consultation, is further ruined. The nursery school, a legacy of Pauline Kergomard whose pedagogical strengths is envied around the world, sees specific educational goals, guarantees a real welcome for all children in the school world, badly damaged. The primary school has seen a rain of the most authoritarian and childish orders since, no doubt, by François Guizot: reduction to the enforcers responsible for implementing standardized procedures, under permanent evaluative pressure, the school teachers are now wondering if they are still training their students in responsible citizenship. The middle school, whose status and purpose have never been clear, finds itself, once again abandoned, subject only to some program changes, without question of the meaning of knowledge and conditions of their sharing. for today’s teenagers, is never asked. The school was torn apart by the introduction of an ongoing examination that compromised the commitment of teachers to their role and of students to their studies. The intolerable and discriminatory gap between general and technology high school, on the one hand, and vocational high school, on the other, has become even worse. And the establishment of Parcours Sup condemns high school students, in general, to a random orientation as it is unfair, subjecting their personal projects to unknown algorithms. In general, Minister, inequality has greatly increased and reliance on the public service in education has been permanently shaken.

But I want to emphasize today, Minister, as you carry out your duties, the great recruitment crisis that our country is going through. The work on which, says Ferdinand Buisson, “the promises of the Republic are based”, this work on which our common future depends largely, this work that we readily call “the most beautiful in the world” and where, according to gwapa. phrase heard recently in a Bhutanese movie (“School at the end of the world”), “touch the future”… no longer appeals to the younger generation and we are at risk, in very short term, to find ourselves facing great management. problems. I know some love the secret hope of replacing part (if not all) of the work of digital technology educators, but I hope that, like me, you don’t want to do it: know- your that what is at risk in The pedagogical relationship is not reduced to training by machine, no matter how sophisticated and efficient it is. You know that the thought of learning analytics, under the pretext of “adapting” to individuals, freezes them in a hypothetical “nature” and defines their future from their past…

Also, the priority, Mr. Minister, before any new “piping” reform, it is necessary, in my opinion, that the education professions should restore their meaning in order to once again attract our youth to dedicate themselves to them. This obviously requires real financial and social recognition, which has long been overdue. But it also involves emphasizing the importance of their mission. And talking about “mission” today isn’t anecdotal, it’s not just skepticism about a point in the vocabulary … it implements a radical change in relation to a policy that, over the past five years, has been considered their profession as a simple set of “users” service tasks. In stark contrast to a civic engagement to serve the common good.

However, you know that no job reduces the amount of skills needed to use it, and the teacher’s job is less than others. Any profession needs what Cornelius Castoriadis calls “a mythological abode” that without it there is only a combination of ridiculous activities. Without this “mythological hearth”, you don’t know why you wake up in the morning and, even with a little difficulty, discouragement grips you, with, in the end, release or habit, guilt and anger.

So it is up to you, I believe – and it is a unique task – to give back to the teaching profession its political meaning, to tell teachers and everyone who governs our youth, that they are bearers of values. and that. these values ​​are not of rising consumption, nor of social separatism, nor of the individualist career… they are the ones you are fighting for: emancipation and solidarity. Emancipation, that is, the possibility given to each and every one to excel themselves, to break all the labels we have been able to put on him and break all forms of imprisonment. Solidarity, that is, the discovery that we are brothers and sisters, and only cooperation and collaboration can save us from collective sinking.

And you know, like me, that these values ​​of liberation and unity never contradict within the most essential knowledge, even if it is foreign to them… quite the opposite! To the extent that school knowledge is derived from this double perspective it becomes real “knowledge”, that it allows us to grow and develop, that it builds our common humanity.

Bernard Stiegler, who died soon after, urged us in 2008 to “take care of the youth and generations”. He is right. It’s time, more than ever, to hear it. And, for this, take care of teachers and education staff. This is your job. They don’t expect any demagogic flattery from you, but a straightforward and clear relationship that will set the course of the next few years together. They expect you to immediately see their initial training, now severely compromised, and their ongoing training, completely ruined. They expect you to work with them on the ends without chaining them to intrigue techniques. In short, they expect their minister to establish with them a public education service that will be able to prepare our children for the future society.

Philippe Meirieu

Honorary Professor of Educational Sciences

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