In primary school, “the restriction on so-called fundamental learning means a reduction in academic ambition”

This article appears in “Le Monde de l’Éducation”. If you are subscribed to Worldyou can subscribe to this weekly letter by following this link.

Enabling everyone to acquire a common culture offering the tools to think about and transform the world in order to respond to ecological and social challenges: this is the ambition that a democracy should ign to schools. The period we are experiencing, marked by the intertwining of climate, health, social and political crises, international tensions and conflicts, shows to what extent the mastery of complex knowledge is essential to act as an enlightened and emancipated citizen.

Contrary to this ambition, the educational policy deployed during the previous five-year term established “reading, writing, counting, respecting others” as the sole horizon of primary school. This restriction on so-called “fundamental” learning means a reduction in academic ambition, reducing the place of entire sections of knowledge that are nevertheless essential to academic success and understanding of the world. Added to this is the focus on technical learning of the most instrumental skills of these disciplines considered fundamental, to the detriment of other higher level skills and the requirement for all students to have access to complex and in the sense of learning. Far from reducing the unequal nature of our school system, this educational policy has, on the contrary, reinforced it by first penalizing students from the working cles.

Already proven system

The Minister of National Education, Gabriel Attal, decided to continue in this logic by promising a “shock of knowledge” by tightening the screw of the “fundamentals”. To this end, he created a mission “knowledge requirement” supposed to deliver its conclusions within two months for application at the start of the 2024 school year.

Once again, it is in an emergency that the future of the school and the students is decided. While the school needs stability and a long time, a new revision of the programs and a questioning of the organization of the school in cycles are announced. These modifications would lead to a profound upheaval of a system already tested by incessant program revisions and multiple reforms and measures piled up in recent years. However, we know that a reform can only succeed if it meets with the support of staff. Who can believe that a digital consultation will allow them to be ociated and demonstrate their professional expertise?

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