World News: Bullying, Suicide, and The French School System

Confronted with the dramatic consequences of a new case of harassment, the National Education officials can no longer postpone their update to the realities of its time and to those that interrupt the daily life of school.

Did it take until the suicide of Nicolas, on September 5, a 15-year-old high school student, that the omerta on school bullying that plagues schools was finally lifted? Some hope so, just as many are horrified by the fatal gesture of a teenager pushed to the limit within an institution, namely the National Education officials, at best, overwhelmed by this reality, at worst totally blind.

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State within the State, irreformable mammoth for Claude Allègre, ephemeral Minister of National Education in the Government of Lionel Jospin (1997 - 2002), institution as sacred as criticized, National Education is today in turmoil. First, because of the letter written by the Pôle Versailles to Nicolas' parents (see article in the newspaper Le Monde dated September 17) then, and more generally because the institution struggles every day a little more, to meet the demands of the time.

Everyday Realities

Fixed, not to say stubborn, on texts that have become obsolete and anachronistic, national education today seems to be at the end of its limits and its means.

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Obsessed by the idea that each student leaves middle or high school with a diploma, regardless of the level of the student in question, the National Education has cut itself off not only from the contemporary realities of its time but also from the realities that make up its own daily life: harassment, overcrowded classes, difficult inclusion of students too out of step with the expectations expressed in each level, teachers under tension, recurrent lack of teachers, verbal and physical violence towards teachers... The problems pile up and worse! are steadily increasing.

So, once the observation is drawn up, it is time for solutions, at least proposals supposed to improve the French education system. And it is clear that the project is huge. But one of the first solutions would perhaps be for the National Education officials to come out of its ivory tower to see first-hand and in situ what it means to teach today and what realities students, teachers and educational communities face.

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Pell-mell, parents more and more aggressive and demanding, and this for no real reason at the risk of exacerbating existing tensions; students overprotected by an extreme benevolence that borders on pedagogical assistantship and who espouse the parental scheme, transforming the School into a pharmacy; schoolyards where there are sometimes real settling of scores between students heated to white because of an unfortunate word on social networks; multiple cases of harassment deliberately silenced on both sides to avoid any turmoil at the risk of exposing victims to extreme situations such as that of young Nicolas.

And the list is unfortunately long because the world of education, exposed by its function to all social realities, turns out to be an infinite field of solutions and questions. However, if the National Education were to undertake its transformation in the moment, it would go through an inevitable plunge into the daily life of the school and stop traveling in the spheres of the world of Education. Is that too much to ask?

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Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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