From the many conversations I had with my students in class, two phrases stuck in my memory: “We feel neglected” and “We are never taken seriously”, two sharp knives of the truth. Whose fault is it ? Ours. All of us. I have always been told that there is no book for parenting, but that a parent should become a guide to his child. I now ask myself, who is more anxious, the parents in their role of guide or the children who blindly look for the instructions for use?
COVID-19 may have its backs wide, but we are unequivocally above an abyss and the fall is nigh. The education system has become a diploma factory with no real need for pedagogical education. And I weigh my words on “educational”. As a non-law graduate teacher, which I was until last week before I fell head over heels for this artifice that is high school, I dare to allow myself here some thoughts that permanent teachers cannot formulate in the public square. Allow me the pleasure of presenting to you the open secrets of this locomotive which is the ministerial education system.
About the French language
Many times I have heard the government and people of Quebec revolt against the poor state of the French language in Canada and internationally. However, the majority of pupils in the fifth year of secondary education must have the language skills of a pupil from the end of primary education, the beginning of secondary education. “Come on, you’re generalizing! you’re going to say. Well, if it’s not in French that your child is being outclassed, it’s probably in another subject.
It is not well seen to sink a student
Everyone knows that sinking a student would cost the state of Quebec way too much. Come on, boom! Take it to the next level and solve your problems! How do you expect young people to be curious in the classroom when they are not even at their real academic level? What will happen to CEGEP? Why is there so much fear of failure? Who should take on the task of making a classroom a pleasant place to learn?
This is where the teachers come in. We are asked to give a topic that the students don’t even understand and then tell them that everything will be fine. And if we are unlucky enough to sink a student for any reason, well the parents, administration and school board, we can even say the company, will immediately protest to blame us and make us feel like it to accuse us of not having offered the fruit of our knowledge by the proper method.
Either way, even if we decide to sink your kid into our subject, he will still get through his year and go to the next level as if nothing happened. Thus he will follow the wave of a so-called uneducated youth.
High school is a daycare center
To instruct or to teach, what is the role of the school in society? What is the role of parents, of the family, in education? One day one of my colleagues told me that a parent had called the school to ask her child (in external suspension) not to stay at home because she would not be there. Aside from this glaring lack of self-confidence, I find that my young people have never developed certain skills that are crucial to their progress through the various stages of human development. Autonomy, sense of responsibility and initiative have become rare commodities, if not unknown to young people. Not to mention the lack of effort and inability to solve problems.
In my view, the cause of all this can be summed up in one word: infantilization. We are infantilizing today’s youth. People assume that all these skills are only developed in school. If this is the case, tell yourself one thing, the school of life will seem much harder for them once they have their high school diploma in their pockets.
The conservative education system is an old factory of the industrial age in which we continue to invest in a vacuum in the belief that it will one day pay off. This is no longer the case. It rusts by accumulating intellectual dust and expense, while keeping warm by burning the potential of many. Life is not a school.
The Blinding Ego
Our ego blinds us, preventing us from looking at young people living in a world more evolved than our own. How can we take our responsibilities seriously and stop letting go of what should have happened a long time ago? The consequences of this lack of humility leave room for a generation disappointed and disinterested in its upbringing. The school should be avant-garde, not intellectual purgatory. The tools offered in the classroom should amaze at the infinite possibilities that education could bring, if we collectively put a little effort into it. It is the grace I wish for all Quebec students, especially mine, to whom I dedicate this text.