“Every student counts”: When writing is a militant act

The school is doing its job. This is one of the messages conveyed by Fabrice Krot, Caroline Latournerie and Marguerite Graff. All three teachers, they participated in the writing of “Each pupil counts” (Editions de l’Atelier). Caroline and Marguerite are history and geography teachers at the Auguste-Renoir high school in Asnières-sur-Seine. Fabrice Krot, now retired, was a teacher, then educational adviser at Châtenay-Malabry. Each in their own way, they have innovated pedagogically for the success of their students, so that “every student counts”. So that The Educational Café continues, take advantage of our offer and receive this book as a gift!

To be a teacher for Caroline and Marguerite is to occupy a privileged place with young people, a place nourished by almost daily meetings, in any case weekly. “And this place with young people is a privilege, because it connects the present and the future with hope. We are teachers because we deeply believe in this youth. And it’s a privilege, because youth is beautiful! She can be noisy, tiring, restive, often fragile, but she asks for proposals and answers. His expectations compel us. We teachers have a taste for youth in all its glory. We meet them at a time in their life when they are under construction and we are there to help them fulfill themselves, to feel they belong”. For Fabrice Krot, being a teacher, “is not about delivering a masterful word carried with arguments of authority, it is on the contrary helping students to progress towards a real understanding of the world around them in a way that is affordable and will allow them to surpass themselves to make a conceptual leap”. These three visions of the profession are far from that advocated by the penultimate occupant of the rue de Grenelle. Far from the vision of the school of Épinal, where the students waited wisely for knowledge to be delivered to them. For these three teachers, teaching means questioning oneself, renewing oneself daily to allow students to develop their critical thinking, to emancipate themselves…

The pleasure of teaching

And being a teacher also means “giving students back their pride so that they can straighten up. The moments of grace when we allowed a student to experience something that moved him, a light that is exchanged by the look, because an idea made sense, or because a word, an encouragement put him back on the path” explain Caroline Latournerie and Margueritte Graff. For them, teaching brings small daily joys, that of the individual successes of the students, but also of the collective. “You can experience with a whole class great moments of gaiety, when the course works”. The intellectual pleasure is not left out in the act of teaching according to them. “Pedagogy and constant learning nourish us. When you rack your brains to put this or that question or notion to music or when you imagine strategies to bring an idea to fruition”.

Fabrice Krot, now retired, loved everything about the teaching profession, “the relationship with students, educational freedom, teamwork, educational research, the constant questioning of his work…” . He is not, however, nostalgic “for the red tape, the ignorance of the school system among many school players, the unbearable weight of the hierarchy and the incompetence of certain hierarchs”.

Collaborate on “Each student counts”, a need for the three teachers

For the three teachers, participating in the writing of “every student counts” responded to the need to change the way we look at public schools and especially students from working-class neighborhoods. “When I was a pedagogical adviser, I ran the Maison des sciences. A place designed to compensate for the lack of scientific activities in the classes in my district,” explains Fabrice Krot, who presented the educational value of this approach in one of the chapters of the book. “It was a question of showing that in the face of social determinism – of class, of neighbourhood…, there are actions that can be carried out and which bear fruit. Pupils from working-class neighborhoods are therefore capable of succeeding like the others, you just have to make up for the initial cultural gap, and this, from nursery school onwards”.

Caroline Latournerie and Marguerite Graff recounted the debates on secularism that they led in class after the 2015 attacks. “Young people expect the school to explain difficult situations to them. They come with the hope of having answers. If they already knew everything or if they agreed on everything, then the school would be of no use and neither would we! It is good to allow them to construct their own reflection, to exercise their free will, to offer them the possibility of taking steps aside, of testing the debate, that is to say the possibility of expressing their opinions, but also to accept different opinions, in this sense, the school is a unique place. So yes, in order to address the lively issues that are straining society, it is necessary for us teachers to prepare ourselves, to have established relationships of trust with the students and a reassuring climate in the classes. When these conditions are met, the courses around living issues are the most exciting courses,” they comment.

A republican school that “does the job”

because-every-student-counts The authors brought together by Mohand-Kamel Chabane and Benoît Falaize all share a desire to “bridge the widening gulf between what we experience on a daily basis and defeatist, even deadly discourse. Yes, the difficulties exist, but so do the solutions. We want to testify that the republican school, despite the alarmist speeches, “does the job” and sometimes in a marvelous way, firstly because it welcomes all children, whoever they are. And together, every day, we make society, we make a republic. The school often achieves this better than the rest of society… it can be proud to show the way,” say Caroline and Marguerite. And for the two teachers, teaching with students labeled as “difficult” means living beautiful moments. “We also make them understand this very simple and yet essential thing: “here, today, during this course, I am happy to be with you”. Taking a positive look at them, believing in them, taking an interest in their history, in the history of these disparaged neighborhoods is a key. They must feel that we do this job with our heart and our sincerity. Depending on the class, building a relationship of trust can take time, sometimes several months, during which the students test our solidity, our consistency and our fairness towards everyone, as well as our requirement vis-à-vis us- ourselves and our commitment to them. Once trust reigns, we have a magic wand in our hands: then, yes, almost anything is possible! »

“Each student counts” is the refusal of a country that mistrusts its youth, which is bogged down in a negative view of its school. It is to believe in the educability of all students.

Lilia Ben Hamouda

Kamel Chabane and Benoît Falaize, Because every student counts. Teach in popular neighborhoods. ISBN: 9782708253933

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“Every student counts”: When writing is a militant act