look back at nearly two hundred years of a perfect education system


“There are as many ways to talk about school as there are French people”, – warns Roshdi Zem in a comment. On such a subject, as exciting as it is passionate, it is comforting to recognize the voice of an actor with a distinguished career: the first child born in France to a family of five, in Genevieve (Haute-de-Seine), to a Moroccan father , who lives in the slums of Nanterre, and a mother for whom the academic success of her four sons and daughter is crucial; but also a schoolboy who was told this by Drancy High School (Saint-Saint-Denis).“There was no place for [lui] »despite his correct grades, he admitted world, January 15, 2016: “It was the violence of that time. »

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Director Stéphane Correa chose 1833 as his starting point, the year when every commune in France had to open a primary school for the first time. The inglorious state of affairs is in question: “Nowhere else in Europe do children work so young”that is, 4 years in the fields and 8 years in the workshops.

The commentary highlights several key characters such as Louise Michel or Jules Ferry

Like a good lesson, this history of nearly two hundred years of the French school combines recreation with anecdotes from individuals or teachers and learning through storytelling and archives. The red thread is the fight against inequality: in 1910, 1% of French high school students (paid) had a bachelor’s degree; in 2021 the pass rate is 93.7% and the school is a regular experience.

The commentary highlights several key characters. Like the teacher Louise Michel (1830-1905), who joined the Paris Commune in 1871 – it was the Communards who invented the word “laïcité”; Jules Ferry (1832-1893), of course, but also Ferdinand Buisson (1841-1932), a follower of the joyful school; later René Haby (1919-2003), who carried out the college reform that Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1926-2020) wanted in 1975 – even if it meant abandoning the demonstrations that resulted from it; François Mitterrand (1916-1996), who launched ZEPs (Zones of Priority Education), but was forced to abandon the abolition of free schools, given the scale of the demonstrations (one million people in Paris) in 1984.

Communicative zeal

The numerous, forty-five participants best embody the diversity of each person’s relationship with the school, from “great memories” from the physicist Etienne Klein to the hell in which the actor Franck Gastambide lived, the archetype of the “fool” (one who, like a crab, does not walk straight). Between them, Daniel Pennac, Nagy, Edwi Plenel or even Martin Fourcade, the Olympic medalist in biathlon, who discovered skiing thanks to the green classes and, at the same time, got… 2 out of 20 in sports at the undergraduate level. !

We would forget some more sensitive topics, such as respect for teachers or secularism.

Feelings are different. Actress Ariane Askarid said: “You, where are you from, you can’t understand” ; On the contrary, the school allowed Samuel Joshua, a university professor, to get out of his situation: “I was not a poor child in mathematics: I was first in the class. »

All teachers show passion for their profession, to the point that it becomes communicative, and we forget some more delicate topics, such as respect for the teaching staff or secularism. Two years after the death of Samuel Pati, on October 16, 2020, the professor of history and geography was killed for showing a cartoon of Muhammad published Charlie Hebdo for their students, recent surveys show an increase in attacks on secularism in schools.

Stories of one people: Shk, documentary by Stephane Correa (France, 2022, 2 x 60 min). This was followed by a debate presented by Julian Bougier as part of a special evening. Available in repeat on France.tv.

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