Archive for reformation

la remise en cause des mathématiques comme outil exclusif de reproduction de la bourgeoisie

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2021 by xi'an

A tribune that was published by Le Monde a few days ago celebrates the end of the “dominance of mathematics [in high school programs] as the unique reproduction medium of the bourgeoisie”, in  connection with a recent reformation of French high school programs where students have to specialise in only three topics in their final years. This change has led to a major drop both in the number of students studying maths and in the contents of the maths curriculum. As a result, there will less students entering university with a basic maths background and an overall regression in their level. At a time when international scores show French pupils are on average the worst ones in Europe and when the French government has huge ambitions to develop national AI companies,  this drift should be most concerning… But not for the author of the tribune, a high school professor of history and geography, who is most happy in the rise of students specialising in his subject, with a caricaturesque opinion on the inegalitarian role of mathematics:

“[la réforme] devait dès lors permettre, par le jeu des nouvelles spécialités, l’expression d’aptitudes plus diverses et d’en finir avec la prééminence systématique des mathématiques comme instrument de sélection scolaire et sociale.” [the reformation should then allow through new specialties to account for a wider range of abilities and to end the systemic preeminence of mathematics as a tool for school and social selection]

“[les mathématiques] demeurent le choix privilégié des mâles CSP + soucieux de préserver leur rang social” [mathematics still are the favoured option of higher class males afraid to loose their social position]

“[la spécialité histoire-géographie-sciences politiques] doit contribuer à la promotion sociale des plus défavorisés et à la remise en cause des mathématiques comme outil exclusif de reproduction de la bourgeoisie.” [the history, geography and political science specialty must contribute to the social promotion of the least favoured and to the demotion of mathematics as the unique instrument of preservation of the bourgeoisie]

If it was not so sadly representative of a general perception of mathematics within the global population and among the high administration of the Education Ministry, the outdated ideological tone of the tribune would have been quite hilarious.

“Les universités dans un cul de fac”

Posted in University life with tags , , on May 14, 2009 by xi'an

This was the headline of Libération on Tuesday and, while the pun is difficult to translate (cul-de-sac turned into cul-de-fac for faculties, maybe Universities imteached would make sense…), it conveys both the feeling of the reform of faculty status, having reached a dead end and the terrible impact on the image of French universities (at least nationwide). As posted in earlier posts, the government and in particular the ministers for education and universities just botched their attempt at reforming the status of faculty members. Following Sarkozy’s principles of “ça passe ou ça casse!“, they first announced a whole range of radical changes without first discussing with anyone, then, faced with widespread protests, they started discussions and gradually removed items from this reform to the point it is now mostly empty… This was a recipe for a disaster that indeed happened: giving up in front of the protests lead to wider demands and the university protests have now reached such a wide scale of demands that (a) they obviously cannot be met and (b) as put by Libération, everyone is a loser. The reformation has not taken place, [some] teachers and researchers have not taught nor done any research for [most of] a semester, [some] students have not had classes for [most of] a semester, the lackluster French universities are even less appealing to prospective French students [as compared with engineer and business schools] and to Erasmus visiting students, and, in the end, the move towards a more autonomous and more efficient university governance has been stopped at an early stage, once again for ideological reasons. The situation is that hopeless that yesterday students started fighting other students who were picketing the entrance to Saint Etienne university… The last time I saw students fighting, it was on the UCV campus in Caracas, it figures!

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