Why are the French so elite

The French want an elite

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Frédéric Auria, a protesting German teacher from Lyon, thinks the number of hours is too few to learn a language and worries that teaching positions will be cut. The teachers would sometimes have to commute back and forth between three different schools in order to ensure the German offer. He says that classes bilangues would have proven themselves at all levels, educationally, socially and also the students would appreciate them. "It is completely absurd to dissolve them. On the contrary, they should be introduced for all students."

In addition, the French association of German teachers, ADEAF, fears that this policy will massively weaken the attractiveness of German lessons. Almost 90 percent of the students who have decided to take German lessons do so as part of the classes bilangues. Indeed, a pilot reform project in Toulouse led to a significant decline in German learners. Because German is considered exhausting. The ADEAF already has more than 40,000 signatures for the receipt of the classes bilangues collected in an online petition.

In recent weeks, philosophers, mathematicians, historians and sociologists of all stripes have expressed criticism of the school reform, because not only German teachers fear that the level of all students would be lowered if the demanding subjects were reduced.

Latin and ancient Greek are now only interdisciplinary

At the center of the reform of the socialist minister are new pedagogical ideas that rely on interdisciplinarity. Subjects such as Latin and Ancient Greek, for example, should disappear as independent disciplines and instead be combined in the subject "Language and cultures of antiquity". "To give up Latin and ancient Greek seems to me to be a cardinal mistake," says Alain Bentolila, linguist and professor at the Sorbonne, who in 2014 published a book with the programmatic title How could we be so stupid? published. He blames the pedagogy of the nineties for the 20 percent of French schoolchildren who can barely read in the 6th grade. During that time, experiments were carried out with various methods that had turned out to be ineffective. He says: "Both Latin and ancient Greek enable students to understand the coherence of our language."

But the minister of education declared all of the critics to be "pseudo-intellectuals". Now Jean-Pierre Chevènement, who in turn is education minister under François Mitterrand, is inviting the minister to reflect on her plans: leveling out is not a solution, he says on the radio France Inter. "Inequality is conjured up in order to destroy what is left of the school. I have nothing against interdisciplinarity, but only when the basic knowledge is available."

So far, however, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has insisted on her reform, supported by President Hollande and Prime Minister Valls. A risky game by the social-liberal government. For many French people, school is a symbol of the republican achievement society. Beyond the classic political fronts, they want to cling to a French elite. According to a survey, 61 percent of the French are against the reform. The protests this Tuesday are undoubtedly a first warning shot.