Your appointment is a pleasant surprise in my eyes, in the eyes of many. Your academic work, your commitment, your position, indeed, guarantees a major renewal of the head of national education. You have worked with discrimination and liberation; On numerous occasions, you have spoken in a fair, uncompromising, and at the same time soothing social context; You have embodied the struggle for equal rights, the most fundamental for our future … These, for teachers, for all national education and popular education workers, are powerful signs that give us hope for a real renewal.
You have reached out to the head of a devastated and damaged organization. An organization that is rapidly reforming, without practical advice, has been deeply unstable. The nursery school, a legacy of Pauline Cargomard whose educational perseverance envied the whole world, saw its specific educational objectives as a guarantee of an authentic welcome for all children in the school world, deeply distorted. Elementary schools have seen the rain of most authoritarian and childish orders, undoubtedly, reduced to the executives responsible for implementing the Francois Guizot: standardized procedures, subject to constant assessment pressure, school teachers today wonder if they can still train their students in responsible citizenship. Secondary school, whose position and objectives have never really been made clear, has seen itself set aside, with only a few program changes, without questioning the meaning of knowledge and the conditions for sharing it for today’s adolescents. Fragments that compromise both the commitment of teachers and students to their work towards their work. The intolerable and discriminatory gap between general and technical high schools on the one hand and vocational high schools on the other has worsened. And the establishment of Parcours Sup has condemned high school students, as a whole, as unfair as a random adaptation, which relates their personal projects to unknown algorithms. All in all, Minister, inequality has risen sharply and confidence in the public service of education has been permanently shaken.
But I want to emphasize today, Minister, that while you are doing your job, our country is going through a major recruitment crisis. The job that Ferdinand Buison called “based on the promise of the republic”, the job on which our common future largely depends, is the job we simply call “the most beautiful in the world” The phrase, “the future has come” … no longer appeals to the younger generation and we risk exposing ourselves to big oversight in a very short period of time. Nurture, but I hope that, like me, you do not want to do this: you know that the educational relationship at risk is irreversible for training by machine, although it can be sophisticated and efficient. 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 … the unbearable necessity against which you have always fought.
Also, Mr. Minister, before any new “piping” reform should be a priority, I believe, giving education professions their money back so that our young people can be re-employed to dedicate themselves to them. This obviously requires real financial and social recognition, which has long since come to an end. But it also involves confirming the importance of their mission. And speaking of “missions” today is not anecdotal, it is not just a reproach on a point in the vocabulary … it leads to a radical reversal of a policy that, for the past five years, has been their profession. Easy set of tasks in the “user” service. The opposite of civic engagement in the service of general welfare.
However, you know that the sum of any job cannot be reduced is the skill required to practice it, and the job of a teacher is less than any other. Any profession requires what Cornelius Castoridadis calls “a mythical house” without which there is only a combination of ridiculous activity. Without this “mythical itch”, you don’t know why you wake up in the morning and, with the slightest difficulty, discouragement finally grips you with resignation or routine, guilt and resentment.
So it’s up to you, I believe – and it’s a great job – to give the academic profession back its political significance, to tell teachers and those who look after our youth that they are carriers of values and that these values are not about growing enjoyment, not social separatism. Not individualistic careerism… these are the ones you have fought for yourself: liberation and solidarity. Liberation means that everyone is given the opportunity to get rid of all the labels that we have been able to put on him or her and to break all kinds of captivity. Solidarity means the discovery that we are the brothers and sisters of humanity, and only mutual help and cooperation can save our collective ship from destruction.
And you know, like me, that these values of liberation and solidarity are in no way at odds with the content of the most demanding knowledge, more than being foreign to them… quite the opposite! As much as school knowledge is acquired from this dual perspective it becomes real “knowledge”, that it gives us opportunities for growth and advancement, it builds our common humanity.
Bernard Stiegler, who died soon after, urged us in 2008 to “take care of youth and generations.” She was right. It’s time to dump her and move on. And, for this, take care of teachers and teaching staff. This will be your job. They don’t expect any mental flattery from you, but an open and clear relationship to pave the way together for the next few years. They hope you’ll take a quick look at their initial training, which has been so seriously compromised today, and their continued training, completely ruined. They hope that you will not work with them without giving them chains on the method of childbirth. In short, they hope that their minister will build with them a public education service capable of preparing our children for the future of society.
Honorary Professor of Education