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.
The chain of tragic events continuously reported by the media and social networks today creates an aggressive atmosphere which makes the education of our children and adolescents more difficult than ever. Already heated by advertisers, they find themselves, in fact, immersed and engaged in a war of certainties when, on the contrary, they should take the time to learn to doubt in order to be able to face it themselves, a once they become adults, to the upheavals that await them.
The health crisis had already created a general climate of psychological insecurity which had a lasting impact on them. When an individual feels threatened in his fundamental balance and his relationship with others and the world is called into question, he is tempted to find a semblance of stability by clinging to rudimentary principles, simplistic diagrams or binary oppositions. Without cultural support, inner fragility opens the way to dogmatism and people thus become easy prey for populism and fanaticism of all kinds.
Saturated public space
This is undoubtedly why the essential debates on the societal upheavals that we are facing – the climate crisis, the wars which are bloodying the world, the question of migration, questions linked to gender and the questioning of the patriarchal model of authority – produce, alongside high-level reflections which accept to confront complexity, a surge of identity tensions, endless clashes of caricatured positions, incredible verbal violence which saturates public debate.
However, education requires quite the opposite: that we learn to postpone our primary impulses, that we question our representations, that we distrust commonplaces and pseudo-evidence, that we take the time to reflect, to inform oneself, to calmly compare one’s point of view with those of others. That we agree to replace, for a moment, the satisfaction of being in the camp of truth with the collective search for precision, accuracy and a truth that we know is inaccessible. No authentic education without an umed moratorium of certainties and invectives.
This is how we must understand, I believe, Jean Zay’s sentence: “Schools must remain the inviolable asylum where the quarrels of men do not penetrate. » But, if we can require students to turn off their cell phones on school grounds, we cannot suspend their emotions, their resentments and their inner violence by decree… We should not conclude from this, for as much as the teachers are powerless. Quite the contrary: they can, in fact, on each of the subjects of their teaching – and even if these seem far removed from public debate –, do this difficult but fundamental work of disentangling “believing” and “knowing”. “.
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