Steiner, Saint

The blind spot of educational policies? While the latest figures from the Ministry of National Education establish an increase in attacks on secularism in October, Marie-Françoise Chavanne warns of the abuses of private schools outside the contract. Long dean of the inspectors of the Versailles Academy, she had, in 2016, written a report, consulted by Marianne, which highlighted serious flaws in the teachings and the transmission of the values ​​of the Republic within private schools. Eight years later, under the right to education, it calls for strengthening the training of inspectors in the control of these schools.

Marianne: How did you come to be interested in off-contract?

Marie-Francoise Chavanne: As dean of the second degree inspectors of the Versailles Academy, from 2002 to 2014, I was confronted with this question. First, through the monitoring of the education of children educated at home, we were able to observe the abuses and deprivations of education of more and more children. If among the more than three hundred young people received each year during the skills acquisition checks, some were educated, we were faced with a very large majority of young people who were lost, failed, socially isolated or withdrawn from the school system for ideological and religious or under the influence of sectarian groups. Then in 2013, the General Inspectorate, in conjunction with Miviludes [Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires]asked me to go and inspect a Steiner-Waldorf school [la Fédération des écoles Steiner-Waldorf se présente comme un réseau d’écoles prônant une pédagogie alternative, mais se fonde sur les préceptes de Rudolf Steiner, un occultiste allemand fondateur d’un courant ésotérique, l’anthroposophie]

And what did you discover there?

I was accompanied by eleven inspectors from different disciplines. The visit had to be unannounced in order to avoid courses planned especially for the controls. Divided into teams, we attended several sessions and visited the premises. The children were extremely courteous. But we have seen courses based on beliefs and not on knowledge. We haven’t seen a single course, even in history or physics, that provides reliable information. Everything there was esoteric with a permanent confusion between facts and myths. During “eurhythmy” sessions, a practice combining dance and meditation, students stood in a circle and uttered chants.

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This is not an isolated case: you were then responsible for controlling other non-contract schools, of all types, marked by excesses.

Always with groups of first and second degree inspectors and often technical advisers, we inspected private schools outside the contract for three years in the academy of Versailles. We controlled radical Catholic establishments of the Society of Saint Pius X [un courant catholique intégriste en rupture avec le Vatican], and Muslim schools. In almost all cases, we have made alarming findings. In one of the Saint-Pie-X schools reserved for girls, the sister who ran the establishment wanted to refuse our visit when she saw that I was arriving with male inspectors. The letter of referral overcame his resistance.

“Many media denigrate the Public School to praise “new” pedagogies dating from the 1930s to the 1970s. »

What particular things have you noticed in the schools of the Society of Saint Pius X?

In a primary school of the controlled Saint-Pie-X fraternity, we found books with profoundly racist, Pétainist and creationist orientations. In civic education, the role of women was instructive: ” Mom always has a smile, the meal is always ready on time “. Surprising that the students don’t ask any questions, a Dominican sister answered me: ” Yes, but the Church having given answers, we give the answers of the Church “. In one of the schools, it was found that the pages of textbooks devoted to sexuality education were stuck… but the young girls were able to attend a conference on love, by a speaker, who presented in a language that wanted to be branch the body as the place of temptation, saved by the heart and the brain.

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Finally, what common traits emerge from all these different failing non-contract schools?

The education provided does not respect the right to education as defined by the Constitution, nor the values ​​of the Republic, or even opposes them. It does not guarantee the conditions for acquiring the skills of the common base. At best, the “citizen” education offered concerns the organization of society, the rules of life, in connection with religious principles, without ever mentioning secularism. Critical thinking, questioning, debate are excluded. There is a lot of learning “by heart” without questioning or dialogue: the students are prepared for an ideological conformity that is not conducive to open and civic thinking and when we read ” how to behave with an inferior ” Where ” how to recognize the white race “, It is urgent to take action. Conveying prejudices or misleading information is likely to harm the acquisition of values ​​and to oppose the acquisition of intellectual tools allowing the moral autonomy of students.

Marked by what you have seen in these schools, you decide on your own initiative to write a report to demonstrate that it is possible to observe and prove the deprivation of education. In 2016, you handed it over to various institutional players. How was it received? Do you feel, although you are now retired, that the situation has improved?

This report was made for the Ministry of Education, Miviludes, and the Ministry of the Interior. It was used in certain academies and mentioned in the press in 2017. A Steiner school was closed the following year… Then there was the Gatel law in 2018, which has since better regulated the opening of schools outside the contract and imposes controls. But drifts continue, flaws remain. Since then, it seems that my report has been “blocked”, hence my surprise to be questioned several times this year by inspectors general who were looking for this report… Today, it is urgent to strengthen the training of inspectors on these issues and more particularly on the control protocol. This is all the more urgent in that there is a worrying global context with the denial of historical facts, of scientific knowledge, the contestation of the values ​​of the Republic and the enthusiasm for so-called “natural” virtues, beliefs and opinions in the broad sense that tend to question knowledge.

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You also denounce the indulgence enjoyed by certain schools outside of contracts in the media.

I have seen for years the repeated attacks on the part of many media which denigrate the public school to praise pedagogies ” new dating from the 1930s to 1970s. Discovery, craze, mirage or propaganda? We can cite Telerama and the Montessori method, The world and his very indulgent record on anthroposophy Where Le Figaro Magazine and his attacks on the public school which ” would indoctrinate » children! During a seminar at the Dauphine University on alternative schools and new pedagogies, I was surprised at the systematic denigration of public schools – described in turn as classic, ordinary or traditional – the argument being that the public school could not take care of children when they have difficulties or are intellectually precocious, or give them a high level moral education.

Steiner, Saint-Pie-X… A former inspector testifies on the abuses of private schools without contract