Issue n° 22

Opening : Cyberculture breaths, Jean-Louis Weissberg (University of Paris XIII)

Moral chronicle, Alain Vergnioux (University of Caen)

The production of music and its dissemination falls into two complementary areas : walkman music and world music. On the one hand, we find cellular fragmentation, on the other, global uniformity. The author recalls a third possibility : free music. A small group of jazzmen from the 60s and 70s working in this area achieved a high degree of incandescent power.

Notion : Proof, Maris-Clotilde Pirot (University of Rennes II)

Providing a proof, accepting one, refuting or repudiating one…, problems are raised by all these diverse notions. Drawing on juridical and ethnological practices, where issues about establishing proof appear in all their complexity, the author engages in a many-sided and nuanced epistemological investigation of the idea of proof. On the way, she deals with the notions of testimony, demonstration, knowledge and certainty.

Report: Education and media

Presentation, Dominique Ottavi (University of Paris VIII)

Television, schools and symbolic function, Dany-Robert Dufour

Neo-liberal society not only alters people’s behaviour and thought, it also brings about a new form of subjectivity. Dany-Robert Dufour sees television and schools as important contributors to this process. They have disrupted man’s age-old relationship to signifiers, fables, images. The development of means of communication and of sensory prosthetic devices can be harmful for some children : while those whose symbolic structures are well in place can cope without difficulty, for others they help to disrupt still further their powers of thought and their personality. The crisis of authority in schools is linked with something even worse : in developed countries, the failure of some young people to respond to teaching leads to outbursts of violence, while the recycling of libertarian ideas from the 60s has the effect of covering up this malaise within the system.

News pictures and media education, Serge Tisseron (University of Paris X)

In his essay Serge Tisseron reflects on the events of 9/11 and tries to assess the media impact on young people. In the light of theories presented in his last work Children under influence : is television making children violent ?, he analyses the mental and emotional confusion brought about by these incredible, yet realistic, scenes of destruction. Children’s ability to assimilate them was not helped by the absence on television of precise information about New York City and about what exactly was going on in the pictures. This means that adults need to be understandingly tolerant towards children’s reactions as well as vigilant.

Sociology of knowledge and radio/television, Jean Cazeneuve

In this 1962 essay, Jean Cazeneuve describes the distinctive features of televisual communication as compared with writing, still photography, cinema and radio, so as to identify some of the ‘particularities of the culture which it generates’. It is true that television can have an educational function, both for children and for adults. This is shown by surveys of viewers’ reactions and by studies of programme content. At the same time, as J. Cazeneuve stresses, television is a powerful medium in the fascination it exerts, the sensory overload that it produces, and the tendency for those who appear on it to be made into stars. All these things serve to depress intellectual activity and favour regression towards more primitive forms of thought.

Learning-through-play CD roms, Sébastien Pezous (Bayard Publishing)

Learning-through-play CD roms are commercial products which seek to bring together playing and learning, and are intended for children as well as parents. Sébastien Pezous discusses the interesting features of these games, as well as their limitations. How can they be assessed in terms of learning ? It seems from careful examination of these CD roms that some of them fall short in being too imprecise in their content. It is an important task to marry together the play aspect and the intellectual, mindful that there is an ethical dimension to this as well.

Television and school learning, Maguy Chailley (IUFM of Versailles)

Young people are as keen as ever on television despite the emergence of new media. The author reflects on the relationship between television and learning, despite the fact that it is often linked with leisure and recreation – unlike the computer, which is seen as more ‘serious’. Television’s contribution to learning can be seen in what goes on in schools. It is used in class teaching, usually in the shape of documentary material; but it is the TV viewing in which pupils engage in their daily lives that is the richest source of learning, especially if teachers encourage children to reflect on what they have been watching. Although the work teachers do here is indirect, it is certainly very fruitful. Some examples are provided in this essay.

Government priorities in ICT, Hélène Ormières (Technology Authority – French Department of Education)

The Ministry of National Education has launched a number of measures aimed at integrating new ICT developments in education as these affect both staff and students. This article focuses on schools. It looks at various initiatives designed to promote new kinds of pedagogical practice : networks, new programmes, a college certificate in computer science, databases. The ‘information environment’ of pupils and teachers is a new concept and its potentialities go beyond technical matters. The article also examines the creation of new kinds of pedagogical equipment and the ways in which people can link up with outside enterprises ; and it discusses the legal aspects of the use of ICT and partnerships with educational bodies and national public institutions. As well as discussing the various issues involved, the article is a useful practical guide.

Correspondence : The relationship between work and education, Carlo Pancera (University of Ferrare)

Work is cultural production and helps to shape the culture. It can be both action on matter and a source of distress. C. Pancera casts doubt on the idea that leisure (scholè) has been the main necessary condition of intellectual work : a sounder dichotomy is between economic activities in the private domain and public activities : on the one hand, technical knowledge ; on the other, abstractions. The aim of education is the transmission of these different kinds of experience, which, as they become diversified and more distant, produce a ‘world-labyrinth’. When it is put to the test, work becomes charged with spirituality, forms a part of moral education and regulates human affairs. In a society marked by leisure and by fragmentation, education is given a new responsibility to work for the creation of a common and open culture.

Correspondence : The first lesson in morality : an interpretation of the episode in Rousseau’s Emile about planting beans, Maria de Fatima Simoes Francisco (University of Sao Paulo)

The episode about planting beans in Emile is presented both as the first lesson in morality and as a defence of private property. In the light of the denunciation of the latter in the Discourse on Inequality, how can we explain this paradox ? The author’s interpretation consists in showing that the birth of the moral sentiment requires an awareness of the other person and that Rousseau’s account is significant because this awareness comes about via a conflict situation. Pedagogically, the passage reminds us that learning must be based as much on emotion as on reflection ; and that, contra received wisdom about Rousseau as the apostle of non-directiveness, the tutor intervenes with great precision as a situation unfolds which he has been careful to initiate.