Home » Secularism training for teachers: an “absolutely necessary” initiative

Secularism training for teachers: an “absolutely necessary” initiative

by archyw

FOCUS – The announcement by the Minister of National Education of secular training for educational staff is welcomed by the director of the Education Observatory of the Jean Jaurès Foundation.

Self-censorship of teachers “to avoid incidents», «restraint, to use a euphemistic register“From the teaching staff,”disarray most often muffled»… Monday, June 14, Jean-Pierre Obin, former Inspector General of National Education, delivered an uncompromising report on the training of educational staff in the principles of secularism. Commissioned in February by Jean-Michel Blanquer, just a few weeks after the assassination of Samuel Paty, this 19-page text points out the shortcomings of teachers in this area and the vital need to provide them with specific training.

An alarm signal seems to have been heard by the Minister of National Education, who announced in the wake of this document a four-year secularism training plan for all teachers. Thus, from the start of the school year in September, “1000 trainers from all academies and all departments will benefit from reinforced and intensive training“, Promised the resident of the rue de Grenelle in a press release. “This network of trainers will then organize training in each school, college or high school, for all staff, regardless of their status.“, He added, without specifying the terms of this new device.

Fight against self-censorship

«The observation [du rapport] is the right one», Congratulates the Figaro Rémy Sirvent, national secretary of the SE-Unsa union in the secularism, school and society sector. The situation is indeed critical: the trade unionist recalls that in 2018, a survey was conducted among teachers on their relationship to secularism and the way in which they were made aware of the issue. Result: “94% of them admitted that they had never taken continuing training and 74% had never received initial trainingHe remembers. A lack of knowledge of the subject which “favors situations of great prudence, even self-censorship“, according to him.

“Put the teacher face to face with real situations, postural and substantive speeches”

Iannis Roder, Director of the Education Observatory of the Jean Jaurès Foundation

This self-censorship, Iannis Roder, member of the Council of Wise Men of Secularism and director of the Education Observatory of the Jean Jaurès Foundation, had also pointed it out at the beginning of the year in an alarming investigation that he had led to the foundation. It was revealed that 27% of teachers censored themselves “regularly” or “sometimes“. For this associate professor of history, teacher since 1999 in a high school in ZEP in Seine-Saint-Denis, this phenomenon is first of all linked to “not being insured on its scientific and educational bases“. The training will then have a real impact: that of “put the teacher in front of real situations, postural and substantive speeches».

«I often see young colleagues who tell me, especially in sensitive establishments: “I do not feel capable, because I have not been trained”», Confides Iannis Roder. Jean-Michel Blanquer’s initiative will therefore give them the necessary tools to deal with their most recalcitrant students. “I don’t know if we’ll solve all the problems, but we have to train them [les enseignants]“, Insists the professor, himself a trainer, before adding:”I’m not saying it’ll be the absolute miracle, but it’s absolutely necessary».

Take into account the “Diversity»

For Rémy Sirvent, the government must however go much further during training, by exploring two other parameters. First, “social diversity at school». «More and more, we realize that young people are separated on the basis of their skin color, religion, education or wealth.», Confides the trade unionist to Figaro, alerting to the real threat of “segregation“. An observation shared by Iannis Roder: “Social mix, which today equates to cultural mix, pushes students to a confrontation, with different visions of the world». «This is the problem of ghettoization, when only the teacher becomes the bearer of a different vision», Summarizes the teacher to the Figaro. For him, “the school must be a space of confrontation between the visions of the world of the pupils».

But reflections already exist on this subject, indicates Iannis Roder. Experiments are being carried out, for example, in the Academy of Paris, at the college, but also in the new procedure of assignment to the high school in the second class. An experiment “by cohorts“Is thus carried out in the colleges of the 18th arrondissement of the capital:”the 6th grade in one district all go to the same college, the 5th grade to another, etc.»Explains the teacher. “For the high school, it is about creating social mix by allowing scholarship students, therefore from working-class neighborhoods, to access renowned high schools.He adds.

Another key point in the fight for secularism, according to Rémy Sirvent: “the question of poverty». «It will be very difficult to ask students who eat poorly or little, who are poorly groomed and poorly dressed, to embrace the Republic.“, Argues the trade unionist, recalling in passing that one in ten students lives below the poverty line.


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