Monday, October 15, 2007

Vive la résistance!

One thing Sarkozy kept saying during the election campaign was that schools should be free to try out new ideas and ways of teaching. Yet, as I briefly mentioned in my last post, he also decreed that next Monday, Guy Môquet's final letter has to be read out to every pupil in a lycée (high school).

Guy Môquet was a Communist and WWII resistance fighter whom the Vichy Government handed over to a German firing squad and he was executed on 22 October 1941, aged only 17. He became a symbol for the resistance when his final letter to his family was brought to public knowledge. Sarkozy, apparently, was so moved by the letter that he decided that every French teenager should have it read to them every year on the anniversary of Môquet's execution.

This has seriously annoyed a lot of teachers, many of whom don't trust Sarkozy anyway. Anyone with more than a smattering of French will see that the letter is a private one. You may think it moving and powerful, but it doesn't really tell us anything about the war, occupation or resistance. I'm not sure what the kids are supposed to make of it, and I can't see what educational value it has. I suspect that this is more about trying to get the pupils to feel something rather than learn something. The trouble is that just because something moves the President to tears doesn't mean others are going to feel likewise.

Fortunately for the teachers who plan to boycott the reading, there won't be any sanctions for anyone who chooses not to read out the letter. So they have to read it out, but if they resist, noone's actually going to say or do anything. So teachers are free to do as Sarkozy tells them, but if they don't, that's OK too.

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Anonymous said...

I thought that was the whole idea behind Montessori?

El Gringo Vasco said...

so how are your classes going?

fairly smoothly, I hope.

M. le Prof d'Anglais said...

Well, Gringo, I've been meaning to blog about the actual classes for a while but real life keeps getting in the way. I've got several posts brewing, I'll serve them up when they're sufficiently fermented.

El Gringo Vasco said...

I look forward to it, sincerely.