The suite of ideas speaks to school

“Made school” in ideas, on France Culture, on Tuesday, 26 August 2008.

A show with François Dubet, which published in September 2008 a book Made of school , Patrick Rayou co-author with Dominique Gelin and Luc Ria to Become a teacher. Course and training (Armand Colin 2007), with Isabelle Danic and Julie Delalande to Investigate with children and young people. Objects, methods, and courses in the social sciences (Rennes : PUR, Didact Education, 2006) and with Agnès van Zanten of Survey of new teachers. Change of school ? (Paris : Bayard, 2004), and Pierre Robin author of The student humiliated, and notes. Secrets to the PUF. He has just published a bibliography : Robert Merle. A life of passions (Ed. of Dawn)

The sociology of the school is part of the central nucleus of sociology French, also it is regularly put on the front of the media scene, as is the case with this radio show. The work of Bourdieu and Passeron have marked this field, but as pointed out by François Dubet, the sociology of the school can not be limited to the point-of-view, according to which ” society is not everything and that the school plays itself a role in the production of inequality “. He was himself, at the initiative of a change in point of view on the school, change is essential, because it covers both the eyes of sociologists and actors of the school. Dubet was one of the first in France to take into account the specific effect of institutions on the trajectory of the students, but the true precursors of the material found on the side of the sociology of the English language (report Coleman). It recognizes that the sociology of the school in the 1970s and 1980s has produced results that the scientific community is now considered as acquired.

The school is a field of research that privileged the social sciences, evidenced by the Dictionary of education, directed by Agnès Van Zanten which involves more than 200 researchers of the French language. This abundance of research and approaches does not, however, a burst of knowledge. On the contrary, Agnès Van Zanten questioned at the beginning of the show focuses on the convergences between the theories. But then, the question is, why the actors do not believe or do not apply the recommendations of the sociologists. Dubet responds to triple to this question. First of all the actors, teachers, students and parents have good reasons not to believe, what they say sociologists, because they have a perception simply another reality. Thus, a teacher who has been practising for 30 years in second grade has certainly given the level of his students down, because it does not have the same students today than 30 years ago. While 12 % of an age class reached the high school in the 70’s, this rate is now approximately 80 %. Secondly, it happens that the players have a vested interest in not listening to the sociologists. Thus, the teachers as a profession, and sometimes as parents would be wise to believe in the merits of the school, considered then as ” an island of purity “, the evil exclusively to the company. So, for some players it would be better not to know what say the sociologists, the operation of the school. As noted by Sylvain Bourmeau, the practice of teaching is based on a conviction, sometimes close to the belief, which may be affected by the sociological theories. Thirdly, the sociologists also have their own interests, or they may, according to Dubet, be victims of scientism, and believe that a good sociology of the school should naturally lead to its implementation policy. However, the school is a stake of struggle between a multitude of social groups and the game of democracy explains that the recommendations of the sociologists are not applied.

Pierre Merle, professor in the IUFM also states that social science knowledge is fundamentally dynamic and may be subject to medium-term, shifts are important, because the social conditions and the methodology of sociologists to change. We understand that in this case the policies are reluctant to release funds for results, which will result in more than 20 years after.

The question of the crisis and the reform of the school and of the model that underpins it is then discussed. The guests are unanimous to point out the lack of courage of politicians in the successive reforms of the school system. Dubet analysis of this failure, which exists both to the right and to the left, because of the multiplicity of actors and issues that came together in the school. Every social group has the feeling of having more to lose than to gain by a reform of the school, which ultimately leads to inappropriate policies, which maintain the idea of a crisis in the school. For Dubet, the school is one of the last places where persistent notions of social class and of class struggle, with the dominant ones are fully aware of their interests. Pierre Merle explains that finally the debate on the crisis in the functioning of the school is vain, if it does not take into account more holistically the way in which construct inequalities within the society.

The question of the transformation of the public of the fact of the massification of school on the one hand and the decline of legitimacy in statutory teachers is discussed. Patrick Rayou note that students today do not accept to leave a part of their social character outside of the classroom. The teachers have to base their own legitimacy and to take into account the many experiences of their students.

François Dubet concludes about the legitimacy of a reformist project that is able to make the school better. For him the reform of Xavier Darcos is not going in this direction since it focuses the school year on a reduced number of days, which goes against the account taken of the needs of the rest of the children.

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