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“Our leaders know very little about real teaching conditions”

Yves Reuter, academic specialist in didactics and pedagogies, believes that National Education has many assets which it deprives itself of, start with the teachers she doesn't listen to enough…

But where? goes to the French school ? It is an understatement to say that for several months, the teachers and teams of the National Education have been particularly requested. And they are just as expectant. Gabriel Attal, à at the head of the ministry for 6 months before settling in Matignon, launched important commitments for the school, in terms of training, structuring of teaching and standards, with this political message: more firmness, more # 39;authority, discipline, more monitoring and commitment to students in difficulty.

Can we expect ' beneficial changes for students and teachers quickly? What do we really know about the level of middle and high school students? ens ? Does National Education have the means and resources to initiate reforms in the future? come efficiently ? Yves Reuter, professor of emeritus in educational sciences   university from Lille 3*, which has just published Understanding and Combating Academic Failure (Berger-Levrault), brings us some elements of #39;&eac;clarifications.

“Our leaders know very little about real teaching conditions”

Linternaute – The results from Pisa, which highlighted the difficulties of French students, have provoked ; an electric shock. Can we say with certainty that the level has fallen? in recent years ?

Yves Reuter – We cannot formulate it so simply. In view of the PISA results, the results of the students have certainly declined,  particularly in French – more precisely in understanding the written word, which is very important. s plot – and in mathematics. But çhas not investigated other areas, such as history, physical and sports education, or oral. And this drop is no more significant in France than in many other countries. It is partly attributable to Covid and the measures put in place to deal with Covid.

We must be careful: in relation to the number of subjects that are taught at the university; at school, middle school and high school, PISA is still a prism that is quite recent ;duct. You have to be wary because you have a tendency to overwhelm children, forgetting, for example, that they write more than their parents and grandparents at the same age. High school students also have digital knowledge. Curiously, we do not mention this. PISA remains a survey which provides interesting elements because that it makes it possible to evaluate dozens of countries, but because of its scale, it loses precision on a whole series of things .

How do you explain, all the same, France's poor results in PISA ?

We must be wary of catastrophist discourse. We are, in fact, average. And we can put forward some elements that we do not put forward enough. First, there are changes of ministers and changes of policies in educational matters which are incessant. Furthermore, there is a glaring lack of teachers: 67% of establishments lack teachers if we add replacements. ants who arrive poorly trained, çhas created a lot of constraints for a truly well-conducted transmission of knowledge. Teacher training is also partly lackingé ;eacute;rence. The countries that have the best PISA results, overall, are those that take the time to reform and still have very important training and training. egrave;s followed by teachers.

The Ministry of National Education intends to put a lot of resources into training teachers, emphasizing the fundamentals, with the will to do so. that the "Singapore method" is essential…

There is a process of ghettoization and exclusion which is still very problematic. eacute;matic.

We should ensure that the minister and the Prime Minister are already there. clearly with the Singapore method. This method is based on a long time, we take the time to train the teachers regularly and to explain and re-explain constantly to the & students up to 30 years old what they understood. It is not just a practical method, but also the good understanding of the time necessary for acquired knowledge. Ça, visibly, our minister, as dynamic as he is – I'm talking about the previous one – didn't particularly care about it. definitely in his head, at least through what he says.

Above all, we must understand one thing about the French school, and that is that it is particularly unique. fair, it's fair say that she is unable to reduce the impact of the sociocultural environment on the performance of students. The French school is also characterized through strict child selection procedures. There is a process of ghettoization and exclusion which is still very problematic. Obviously, fighting against these phenomena is not among the political priorities of today. current time.

Data and professionals have been warning about school dropouts for a long time. Why is it so difficult? fight ?

What is characteristic of the last decade is the narrowing of experts heard and consulted by the government. There are around the ministry a certain number of experts specializing in certain disciplines, especially around certain currents of neuroscience. Why not, but çit broke with previous forms of discussions, where ç we consulted experts who were researchers in a wide variety of disciplines.

The Ministry of National Education needs to understand the real conditions of teaching and learning. In fact, our leaders know very little about them, and the work of experts in neuroscience takes very little account of the differences between them. sociocultural renciations.

"France is a country that is depriving itself of its research expertise, it's a shame."

There are lots of trends that are very interesting, you have people who are very keen on s on educational devices. In didactics, you have people who work on the articulation between disciplinary contents, you have sociologists who work precisely on the mechanisms of social differentiation, historians of education who are valuable. France is a country that is depriving itself of its research expertise, it's a shame.

France is still characterized by an incredible number of reports, sometimes very interesting, in particular from researchers of the inspection who are embarrassed by the situation. rale, etc. which are put in the drawers. It's a waste of time and finances. It's still quite improbable to put researchers to work, give them the means and then bury the work afterwards.

It happened to me writing reports for certain academies, handing them in and knowing that they were not read. Sometimes there are ideological reasons because there are, for example, a certain number of educational establishments which operate in a different way from schools and schools which operate in a different way than other educational establishments. classic pedagogies and which obtain fairly convincing results in terms of learning. This is not necessarily appreciated in high places. Which is quite surprising, moreover, because often, in establishments which try to practice slightly different pedagogies, which are demand for new education, there are fewer discipline problems for example. Çis worth questioning.

Level tests for CP, CE1, CM1 and 4e are now carried out again ;regularly. What will be their effect in the long term ? Will they really be useful in informing education policies?

In principle, it's not uninteresting. Now testing is still limited. The larger we want to investigate a large population, the less precise we will be in diagnosing problems. The French school, all the same, is characterized by very high evaluation times. s important. When you go to certain classes, you notice that the children spend a lot of time on assessments, this is time that is taken from the time of the students. nbsp;learning.

"National Education should be more transparent."

When these evaluations had been carried out, launched, the idea was to give concrete elements to teachers on the levels of the ;students, to put in place responses and consider specific training in school areas where there were difficulties that could be addressed. roughly similar, with the aim of improving student performance. However, this idea was taken up abandoned. It's a shame. We can think that the results the Stanislas school (private Catholic establishment where the children of the Minister of National Education are educated, Editor's note ) will be different from the results in a disadvantaged suburb of Pas-de-Calais. Çthis would shed light on certain dimensions of social inequalities.

The results of these evaluations are therefore not used concretely in schools to work on weak points ?

We can partly obtain these results by educational establishment, and that is possible. What would be interesting, indeed, is to have them in a more precise way, by establishment in a constituency, in an academy, etc. Çthis would allow us to connect things and see how the establishments are located. And especially compared to   what we progress, in relation to à what we regress on, etc. Above all, it must be transparent; say that researchers have access to all the questions and the way in which they are broken down. You have sociologists who work in a very interesting way on the phenomena of evaluation, ratings, and the biases that are created, sometimes to the disadvantage of students.

In general, National Education should be more transparent. I am going to give you an example. For each establishment there is what is called a social position index, an IPS, that is ;agrave; say that we calculate for each establishment the socio-cultural positioning of the students. It’s still something very interesting. It was necessary to fight for years and go to court for the information to be communicated. publicly this IPS. Ça made it possible to realize that there were establishments which were classified as very serious. s disadvantaged, with fairly significant means. But their social composition had evolved; and, as a result, they were more favored than other establishments which had fewer resources. Of course,  çhas created discontent, which explains the lack of transparency sometimes.

Another element: in France, we lack structures that truly serve as interfaces between research results and ;nbsp;training structures, and teachers and parents. We don't connect enough and we don't use all the skills sufficiently.

What is your feeling about the measures announced by Gabriel Attal when he was Minister of Education ? The uniform , repetition, level groups, etc. ?

The uniform did not exist; that in certain establishments and in a very punctual manner, çthis does not refer to the history of France. Çit exists in different countries, it's linked to the history of France. &agrav; their culture, but we cannot say that this influences in one way or another in the results of student performance. We can't say that it erases social differences either. And that's really a myth. And sometimes, as in certain Anglo-Saxon countries, it exacerbates the differences between competing establishments. In any case, this does not make it possible to solve the problems of reading, writing, mathematics, etc.< /p>

"The problem is that authority, çit's not imposed;& ;quot;

On grade repetition, we see by looking at the PISA survey that countries that do well are not forced to do so. ;ment, far from it, the countries where there are the most repetitions. So this doesn't mean that we shouldn't repeat a year at all, but it does mean that we do indeed have to think about it. to the best solutions for students. We can have need groups, we can have support during school holidays. When you do the same thing again and again student two years in a row, it doesn't really work. If this has failed, we must find another way.

That's to say?

There is a need for some order. school and certain rules. The problem is that it is not necessary. Overall, what several surveys show is that it is essential to have a good school climate, caring and favorable to students. learnings. We must not have a traditional conception of a discipline which would necessarily be repressive: we must know what is the best way to construct the operating rules. Thus, we can have them built by the students, for example from kindergarten, as happens in certain structures. Çit works quite well.

The problem of discipline must not make us forget that of inequality. It is necessary à inside the school put in place more aid and resources, if only at the level of the canteen, at the lunch level. We need to have educational approaches that are more inclusive. We also need to rethink the school map to achieve à more diversity.

Can the establishment of level groups, desired by Gabriel Attal, go in this direction ?

Là again, the surveys and the various works do not show this. The problem with level groups is that as soon as they become permanent, we will perpetuate the groups of strong people who will advance quickly and the groups of weak people who will advance more slowly. In addition, it risks being a headache in certain establishments, when the strong and the weak are not the same in the different school subjects.

We realize that there are ways to make the class work, with practices of cooperation and projects , etc, which allow students who have different rhythms, who have different means, to work together. Which doesn'n’t prevent you from having to have something certain times, in the day or in the week, groups of needs where we can intervene in relation to à this or that blockage. And let's not forget that France is one of the countries with the busiest classes. And there it is also a difference with other countries which work better.

*Yves Reuter is professor emeritus at university of Lille. He is the founder of the Théodile didactic research team. He ledé research in particular on Freinet pedagogy in disadvantaged environments, on experiments in national education, on the representations of disciplines , on the relationships between the experience of disciplines and dropping out of school. He was é member of the Scientific Council of the research program on education and training and was one of the experts solicited by the groups responsible for ;development of primary school program projects, particularly in the area of ​​writing.

He was still a co-signatory in 2022 of a report on "Collaborative practices for learning" for the Ministry of Education. He published many books, including:

  • Understanding and fighting the&# 39;éschool failure, Berger-Levrault.
  • Understanding the practices and p& different pedagogies, Berger-Levrault.
  • A school Freinet. Operations and effects of an alternative pedagogy in a popular environment, L'Harmattan.
  • Disciplinary awareness. The representations of disciplines at the end of primary school, Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
  • Paint l' error. From error to dysfunction, Villeneuve d'Ascq, Presses Universitaires du Septentrion.
  • Experiencing school disciplines. Disciplinary experience and dropout school, ESF.
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116