Our children deserve better than meritocracy

Our republican education system is based entirely on merit. After the abolition of privileges as a result of the French Revolution, inequality can no longer be inherently valid. So they were justified by talent and personal effort. A social myth has slowly taken hold: those who have succeeded have done better than those who have failed. Here the ideological horizon is seen again and again by school children of all generations. This is how philosopher Hannah Arendt defined “intellectualism”: an oligarchy-based constitution. “No more on wealth or birth, but on power” (Education Crisis) To illustrate this point, Arendt took the example of the British educational model in the 1950s, where students at the age of 11 took an exam that “Only ten percent of students are able to continue their studies.”

Self-segregation, inequality, ghettoization: investigation of the great cracks in the French school

Without going back to such a rigid model, we now discover the temptation to undermine the comprehensiveness of the system through an election at all school levels. Some on the right offer to return the school certificate. Others want earlier guidance for less academically gifted students.

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But what is the real place of merit during the election? Are we really differentiating between “talented” and “ungifted” children as Arendt claims? The whole point of meritocracy is here: for selection to be valid, it must be based exclusively on personal merit, excluding extracurricular factors specifically associated with the source environment. However, we do know that in France these factors are crucial to student success.

Hegel’s reflection

Thus, the 2018 Pisa survey of 15-year-olds taught us that 20% of disadvantaged students in France are among the top performers in terms of reading comprehension, compared to 2% of disadvantaged students. This difference is on average 4 points higher than other OECD countries.

The weight of social reproduction does not wait for adolescence. It has been widespread since childhood, so that the school system seems content to reward those born in a special privileged environment. Now, there is no place for qualification when fate is at risk “Swinging” (Camille Peugney)? Wouldn’t it be wise to forget this myth? Perhaps it is impossible to give up completely. At the very least, the impact needs to be limited. Instead of going back to the old hierarchy, we should be genuinely humanistic and inspired by the idea of ​​liberation in order to pave the way for new learning.

Should the intellect be protected? (1/3) “Social separatism is first built in our schools”

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Thus we find a reflection of Hegel’s (September 2, 1811 speech) educational assessment of a wonderful modernity. The school that lags behind, the philosopher tells us, is always in front of it “The possibility of improvement”, “the possibility that he has not yet found his own interests”Even even “When this interest swells with him”. The education system should never lose sight of the fact that young people are in the process of becoming and nothing is final. As a result, “The school that pronounced the verdict could not be more finished than the people, in that, finished.” For this reason, he added, the government of his time gave this instruction “Students’ grades are not made public”And “These rulings are not intended to have the slightest immediate effect on the future destination of life and the future position of the political organization.”. Far from the intellectual illusion, Hegel promotes an education that trains without limitation, notes without underestimating, that leads without intervention.

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At a time when our National Ministry of Education has begun the race for sustainable assessment and generalization, there is a compass for those who firmly aspire to a liberating education.

Each week, in turn, Saeed Benmaufak, a professor of philosophy, and Belig Nabli, a lawyer and political scientist, narrate the Cultural War.

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