Why are the teachers in turmoil?

by Claude Meunier-Berthelot, French author, lawyer and teacher

CC. The following article from France makes it clear that the same pedagogically nonsensical reforms are being carried out there as in Switzerland, Germany and other European countries. There, too, the responsible politicians seem immune to all pedagogically justified objections and concerns, to any didactic experience, to developmental psychological facts and anthropological conditions. And there, too, the reforms are presented under partly superficially melodious, partly unspeakably meaningless terms. Whom should it serve?

In view of the sparseness of the comments on the draft law of the French Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, on the so-called “school of trust” (!), one is perplexed by the inability of journalists to understand the essence of the subject and to communicate it to the public. There are also those who understand the system best and use their usual malice to conceal reality in order to serve the state. Those who do not understand this course of action would do well to press the replay button, at least until the reforms of Claude Allègre [Minister of Education 1997-2000, transl.] This review would at least make it possible to understand the logic of the system, even if in reality the dismantling of the French education system began much earlier.

A reform that is none…

If we analyse Blanquer’s approach, it quickly becomes clear that this project is by no means a fundamentally new reform, quite the contrary!
It is only a continuation of the policy of its predecessors, based on the “Charter for the Construction of the School of the 21st Century” published by Claude Allègre in 1999, which consisted in transforming the school system into a place of life for our children – as Jack Lang, Minister of Education from 2000–2002, put it: “The school must be a living-space! This revolution is characterised by the disappearance of the knowledge imparted through teaching and its replacement by activities in which the pupils have to acquire their own knowledge. In other words, school is no longer a school.
Since the needs in a teaching-centred school are obviously not the same as in a living space school, it follows that the institutions, the organisational form and the personnel recruitment must be adapted: This is the aim of the measures taken.
The activities of Education Minister Blanquer, are ,therefore, part of the implementation of this Charter, which is gradually being implemented “methodically, progressively and without conflict” by the various ministers who followed one another at the head of the Ministry of Education, as Jack Lang, as Claude Allègre’s successor, recommended in the early 2000’s.

Misleading language

Since this school revolution completely contradicts the will of the parents and the interests of the French nation, the activities (e.g. ball games, roller skating, swimming …) are never described with the normal terms, but packed into an ampoule-like, esoteric and varied language. This language is incomprehensible to lay-people and suggests that the decisions taken serve to improve the quality of the educational system – in reality however, everything is done to destroy it.
 So, at the level of principles, it is about “multi-disciplinarity” (J.-M. Blanquer has clearly stated that the pedagogical approach must always be multi-disciplinary), “inter-disciplinarity”, “transversality”, “trans-disciplinarity”, “inter-disciplinary practical exceptional teaching”, in order not to use the simple word “activity”. As far as activities are concerned in detail, it is about “project pedagogy”, individual project work, “cross work”, “expeditions”, “art and cultural pedagogy”, “personalised support”, “personal project for educational success”, “tutorials” and even “homework assistance” etc. All these terms are completely exaggerated word clichés for simple activities.
Everything is done to deceive the public and not only to appear credible, but also to leave the impression that the educational system is being improved, although the opposite is the case.

Renewing existing educational institutions by new designations

J.-M. Blanquer claims to be refounding the Institut nationaux supérieurs du professorat (INSP). One could laugh oneself to death if it were not for crying if one took the appropriate law at hand. There it says: “The term ‘colleges of teaching and education’ is replaced by ‘higher schools of education’ […]”. Otherwise, nothing is changed in the text of the law!
The “new” INSP are, therefore, nothing other than the former Ecoles supérieures du professorat et de l’éducation (ESPE), which themselves were previously called IUFM (Institut universitaires de formation des maîtres). These were allegedly abolished in 2005 because of massive criticism. Within the universities, however, they continued to exist until they were resurrected in 2013 by Vincent Peillon [Minister of Education 2012–2014] under the name ESPE.
Jean-Michel Blanquer now immortalises the IUFM under the new name INSP. So he does not invent anything new at all – which is the best proof that he follows the same policy as his predecessors.

Changes in teacher training?

It is also claimed that Blanquer is planning to change teacher training as well. However, this change has already been implemented with Vincent Peillon’s “future employment of teachers” [“emplois d’avenir professeur” (EAP)],* which Blanquer is now taking over under the new name of “pedagogical assistants”. For this purpose, unqualified personnel are going to be employed, regardless of nationality or any social criteria. University education disappears and this short training for all employees only takes place in the IUFM-INSP, from kindergarten to university.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem [Minister of Education 2014-2017] had stated that this had become the “normal way of recruiting” “teachers who are no longer teaching”.
A living-space school no longer needs qualified personnel with diplomas. This also largely explains last year’s introduction of the “Parcoursup” system. In this online application of the Ministry of Higher Education, all high school graduates who are interested in higher teacher training have to provide detailed information about themselves and their interests, which makes access to universities difficult for many.
Blanquer continues this policy under a different name while claiming to be innovative.

Creation of public comprehensive schools for the acquisition of basic knowledge?

This has been in preparation for quite some time! If there are no longer lessons at school, if neither knowledge or intellectual education is imparted, if there are no teaching goals to be achieved, but only activities to be carried out, class teaching is no longer justified and no distinction between primary and secondary school is needed. Thus, there is no longer any reason why the different school levels – including grammar school – should not be combined in comprehensive schools, which are called “Ecoles inclusives” by Education Minister Blanquer.
As far as basic knowledge is concerned, you can always come back to it later to acquire it!

The teachers are dissatisfied – but that is nothing new!

The teachers are dissatisfied – but this is nothing new. 20 per cent of the staff have quit in the last few years: That has never happened before! However, nothing is said about that. The Cerberus of the system (mostly a dog with several heads, which in Greek mythology, guards the entrance to the underworld so that no living person penetrates and no dead person comes out) – in other words, the trade unions have looked on and done nothing, although they know exactly what has been going on for decades. They are pushing for demonstrations when it is too late. The teachers have been silenced, despite the commotion caused by the real nonsense of the system. They mistakenly believe, however, that it is still a school, since many have not yet realised where they and our children are heading.

Blanquer’s slogan: “Keep silent!”

Blanquer has supplemented the whole thing with a “duty of exemplary and restraint”! This is no coincidence! The teachers are annoyed; they can hardly bear the situation they have to cope with on a daily basis. He knows very well that the explosion is imminent, reason enough to oblige them to keep silent.
Silence! We are killing the intelligence of your children! This is the “school of trust”, keep silent!
So, we know why the teachers are in turmoil: Abused by the state, which claims to be working to restore the educational system, they know very well that this is not the case and that, on the contrary, their situation and that of the children entrusted to them, will only deteriorate in the future.

Strikes? A washout …

The strikes, called by the unions, only serve to curb dissatisfaction. It is obvious that they will bring nothing but a few meagre consolation prizes, with no effect on Mr Blanquer’s policy, because it is far too late. Everything is planned in detail and prepared so that he can continue his policy.
Strikes, at the wrong time and without putting the finger on the sore spot, are, as usual, nothing more than a washout!    •

*    Law from 26 June 2012, Decree in CE n°2013-50 from 15 January 2013

Source: www.libertepolitique.com/Actualite/Decryptage/Pourquoi-les-professeurs-sont-ils-en-colere, from 7 June

(Translation Current Concerns)

Test tasks in German 2017 for the examination of the basic competences (ÜGK) by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK)

mw. It took two respectively three years for the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) to produce the results of its “standardised, computer-based competence tests” (3rd high school, mathematics / 6th primary class, school language and 1st foreign language).
The sixth-formers were only tested in reading / text comprehension and spelling.
Reading area: Short texts (max. 1,000 characters), three text types: narrative, factual text, argumentation. In addition each with a sample question with four multiple-choice answers.

“Task example for an argumentative text with explicit performance of comprehension” (ÜGK 2019, p. 22)

Title: “Brand-name clothes”. Tina, 12 years old, expresses her opinion on brand-name clothes.
Question: Why do certain young people buy branded dresses according to Tina?
Multiple-choice answers: Because brand-name clothes are very expensive / because they don’t like cheaper clothes / because they want to belong to a certain group / because they want to save their money.
Comment: Two out of four answers are to be cancelled because every sixth-former realises that they can’t be right; the right solution is given practically literally in the text: “[…] only because you want to belong to a certain group […]”).

“Task example for a narrative text with implicit performance of comprehension” (ÜGK 2019, p. 23)

Title: “Noah’s Christmas”. “Noah tells a story about Christmas.”
Question: When is the story set?
Multiple-choice answers: A few months before Christmas / A few days before Christmas / At Christmas itself / After Christmas.
Comment: The answer is provided by the first sentence of the story: “No doubt, it will be Christmas soon!” confirmed by the statement in the second sentence that dad “is bringing out the garlands and the Christmas baubles”.
Comment: Dad does this barely a few months before or even after Christmas. The rest of the story can be skipped by the reasonably alphabetised sixth-former.  

“Task example for an informative text with explicit performance of comprehension”  (ÜGK 2019, p. 24)

Title: “The Flamingo.” Text from an encyclopedia.
Question: What kind of toes does the Flamingo have?
Multiple-choice answers: Toes with special lamellas / Toes with webs / White and red ones / About 40 centimetres long.
Comment: Sixth-formers who are trimmed for such tests look for the word “toes” in the text and find it in the second sentence: “His neck and legs are very long, his toes are connected with webs, ...”. The rest of the story […] (see 2nd task).

(Examples chosen by Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education EDK)