Issue n° 17

Opening, Sylvie Courtine-Denamy (CNRS)

Moral chronicle : Citizens, minors and non-minors, Hubert Vincent (IUFM Nord-Pas-de-Calais)

The essay takes off from the claim on the part of unemployed people’s associations to have received a Christmas present from the government. Hubert Vincent analyses this situation rich as it is in irony, raising questions about the law, gratitude, and political responsibility. He sees many helpful starting points in this for citizenship education in schools, especially as regards the following topic : how can legitimate authority in the shape of teachers bring pupils in a non-demagogic way to participate rationally in decision making however absurd the pupils’ demands may sometimes seem ?

Notion : Professional deontology, François Jacquet-Francillon (INRP)

Certain professions have set up their own deontological codes of practice. These are both an expression and a statement of public morality in some of its forms. Given this, the author distinguishes duties of general morality (being honest, respecting others) from other duties to do with professional awareness on the one hand and a professional ethic on the other. He explores and analyses the forms these duties take and what they involve. This leads him into such difficult questions as : what goods, ideals and values lie behind these issues at the deepest level ? But this kind of investigation into professional practice also opens up the topic of professional distress.

Report: Pupils’ Love

Presentation, Alain Vergnioux (University of Caen)

Loving pupils is taboo, Pascal Bouchard (writer, journalist)

The author hypothesises a ‘teacher being’ who comes to be seen, in the light of collective behaviour, often of an unyielding sort, as an unwitting creator of ‘mythologies’, precepts, frameworks for interpreting reality. This ‘teacher being’ denies, in particular, that desire can play any part in the life of a school class. Pascal Bouchard questions this belief, showing that adolescents need both to experience this desire (which mediates their relationship to learning) and also to be protected from it.

What will family relationships be like in future ?, Boris Cyrulnik (ethologue)

What will tomorrow’s children be like? To answer this question, one has first to identify the economic, social and biological changes which are reshaping the family: not only new kinds of work and virtual telecommunication, but also new shapers of our existence as physical beings – as childbearing is technically controlled and the deteriorations of old age are pushed back later and later. New social structures concerned with children’s upbringing provide them with new mentors, with new affective guidelines. ‘Fatherhood’ and ‘motherhood’ are appearing in multiple new guises. Will children be happier, better loved ? The author refrains from making any predictions.

The teacher-pupil relation : a subtle perversion is always at work, Daniel Marcelli (CHU-CHR Poitiers)

After a detour through the institutionalised homosexualitv of ancient Greek education, the author analyses the subtle interconnections found in the teaching relationship between knowledge and perversion. There are two paths aheal for the child – the first emancipatory, based on sublimation and an acceptance of castration, the second regressive and described by the author in terms of ‘epistomania’. But the deficiency is also on the part of the teacher, divided between the picture of the child as on the one hand ignorant and needing to be filled with knowledge and on the other as a potential omnipotent genius confronted with whom his professional activity can make little headway. If the two images of teacher and pupil match each other, the fetish passes from the one to the other in a shared and perverse pleasure. If they do not, violence, rebellion and humiliation are the result.

`Who really loves, really punishes’. The teacher and the child’s body in nineteenth century France, Jean-Claude Caron (University of Franche-Comté)

Despite the ban on corporal punishment in force since the founding of the napoleonic university, nineteenth century literature pays abundant witness to the violence shown by schools towards their pupils. But, on the evidence of medical texts and legal archives, families did not lag behind in this. The end of the century saw the first prosecutions for paedophilia, an issue previously swept under the carpet, but these generally took a lenient attitude to the adults involved. That children were physically abused is undeniable : their bodies constitute, as it were, a record of moral evolution.

`Such a little child and such a great sinner’, Jean-Marc Lamarre (IUFM Pays de Loire)

Judging by the rights it grants them, the International Convention of Children’s Rights considers children as on all fours with adults, that is, as full citizens. Isn’t there a paradox in this ? Should we see in this attitude a desire to redress an all too entrenched negative picture of childhood – a picture that our intellectual traditions trace back to St Augustine ? J-M Lamarre devotes this essay to re-examining this augustinian view of the child. He shows that Augustine’s reflections on childhood, far from burdening it with the weight of original sin, see it as a metaphor for the irremediable weakness of human being : the child is so thoroughly human ! If children are to be loved, this should be, in Hans Jonas’s words, love of a responsible kind, not redemptive or condescending.

Mentor’s charter, Marie-Louise Martinez (CNEFEI)

Studies : Inspector General Jules Lachelier confronting anticlericalism : unpublished material from 1889 on the `Jules Thomas affair’, Laurent Fedi (college of Douai)

In 1889 Jules Thomas, a young republican teacher, published a handbook of moral philosophy which criticised Christian morality on grounds of its heteronomy. This badly upset the establishment of the day and gave rise to a report by Inspector General J. Lachelier. Based on an examination of unpublished archive material, this essay throws light on Lachelier’s religious beliefs and his links with the Church, Renouvier’s place in the philosophical debates of the period, and the obstacles faced by secular philosophy teaching in the difficult circumstances of the beginmnis of the Third Republic.

Actuality : Alfred Binet, `Mystery Man’, Elisabeth Chapuis (University Paris XIII)

1999 marked the centenary of the Alfred Binet Society. Elisabeth Chapuis paints the portrait of a man who lived as a marginal figure in his own time and was in many respects an enigmatic one. Well-known to posterity as the inventor of psychometry, and also the person who first introduced psychology as a school subject while working at Grange-aux-Belles school in Paris, Binet was also a tireless and bold experimenter, whose creative talent issued in variety shows and in writing hit plays for the Grand Guignol.

Practices : `Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens, Patrick Thierry (IUFM de Versailles)

Dickens’s novel Hard Times was written in 1854. It is a sarcastic onslaught on the positivist education of the day, in thrall as it was to ‘facts’. But the underlying target was the utilitarian philosophy of Bentham and Mill. We include extracts from the first two chapters. Patrick Thierry’s commentary places them in their historical context and suggests a match between what happened to Dickens’s hero and J.S.Mill’s account of his early life in his Autobiography – in each case a kind of heroic catastrophe.