Issue n° 43

Opening, Denis Kambouchner

Moral chronicle : Each individual is another access to the world, Charles Gardou (Lyon II University)

It should be recognized that people with disabilities (hearing impaired, with sight issues, physically handicapped) simply maintain another relationship to the world, they are not different but ‘ourselves’. They express acutely the ‘polyphonic’ character of the human condition; their individuality has a universal scope. It is therefore less a questions of integrating them but of trying to meet their specific needs, and responding through the idea of an ‘inclusive’ society to the demands of a ‘common’ world in an equality of all with all.

Notion : Authority, Anne-Claire Husser (ENS Lyon)

Starting, on the one hand, from an institutional and symbolic erosion of authority and, on the other hand, from the need for critical thinking about it, Claire A Husser recalls the firstly two dimensions, establishing and constraining, of the notions auctoritas and potestas. To break this antagonism, the exercise of authority requires trust and recognition, but also asymmetry if it is to provide control functions and the regulation of social relations. From the educational point of view, authority must seek the autonomy of, and acceptance of accountability by, the child, but there must also be discipline (Kant) and dependence in respect of things (Rousseau). In the final section, the article critically analyzes the theories of AS Neill on the deconstruction of adult authority in favor of a community of equals, to highlight their paradoxes. The challenge today is to articulate rights of the subject, the expression of desire, the social capacity of individuals to value emancipatory, and educative acculturation.

Report: Public School and Emancipation

Presentation, Frédéric Mole and Philippe Foray

Republican schooling: emancipation and meritocracy, Philippe Foray (Saint Etienne University)

The author identifies the different traditions implied by the idea of ‘republicanism’. The first (Aristotle) considers citizenship as a collective participation in the development of the ‘good life’, the second (Machiavelli) conceives it as the readiness to be vigilant in the preservation of civil liberties. The emancipation promised by the school, meanwhile, consists in educating political citizens within a ‘liberal’ perspective. This means that it is centered on the principle of meritocracy and of equal opportunities and as a result emancipation is understood as a process that is primarily individual. In the classical model, political emancipation and the selection of elites are compatible if not completely accepted. Republican equality implies that there is a place for everyone and the system of social inequality keeps everyone in his or her place. But the widespread institutional (via the single school) promotion of equality of opportunity produces setbacks and inequalities and conflicts with the goal of emancipation both politically and socially.

The uncertainties of emancipation, Emmanuel Brassat (IUFM of Versailles)

To define the notion of emancipation, the author introduces the dialectic between freedom and submission to authority and the distinction between freedom and emancipation, the latter characterized by universal access to the exercise of freedom before the law. Modernity essentially thus binds emancipation, education and, in its republican form, universal schooling. The intellectual and political program, however, faces a number of difficulties, particularly the guiding principle of making the practice of civil and political rights subordinate to the exercise of rational thought and critical judgment. Indeed, individual independence seems to be acquired by means other than those of the school; the new audio-visual and digital media with their modes of communication and symbolic authority marginalize the culture of the school. Therefore, to determine whether the public school is still an instance of emancipation becomes a large and problematic issue.

The school and the crisis of ‘configurations of subjection’, Jean-François Nordmann (IUFM of Versailles)

The idea of ​​emancipation indicates that the individual can overcome the constraints of his environment, authorities or external guides and finally his own opinions or prejudices, which require on his part the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes, etc. The author interprets the acquisition processes, even the production of rational subjects, autonomous and moral citizens, as processes of subjection. The notion of ‘configuration of subjection’ refers to structured sets that produce these individual and collective processes of subjectivation, processes that present themselves as seeking the ‘good’ of individuals. The author shows, in five points, that is indeed the case for the school and for all forms social functioning. But he proposes the hypothesis of their systemic crisis, the main forms of which he describes. The article concludes with a reflection on the possible evolutions of the crisis and its possible resolution.

Secular morality and identity in the school, Geneviève Zoïa (Montpellier II University)

This article explores the concept of secularism as tool to explore identities in the school. The author uses an anthropological method conducted in French working class neighborhoods. French secularism, from its origins, is conceived as a higher form of social bond in the service of emancipation and in the formation of a critical spirit and in the promotion of universal values. It is, however, necessary to state that it is now understood and used in public debates as defending a particular form of majoritarian identity especially in contrast with the Islamic religion. Faced with the difficulties of defining a contemporary model of social bond that can integrate moral pluralism, secularism today embodies today an increasingly clandestine version of identity. Thus, calls for secular morality may take on a defensive or even hostile tone against school populations that have not received the secular legacy.

Can the school be emancipatory and compulsory?, Roger Monjo (Montpellier III University)

Obligatory or compulsory attendance is part of the organizing principles of the free and secular public schools in France. The author organizes his thinking by opposing the idea of ​​obligation with the ideas of equal opportunities and universal right to a basic education in order to articulate the many difficulties that arise. It is first necessary to see how the meaning and functions (social and political) of obligation evolved historically to problematize the concept of ‘covenant’, ‘contract’, ‘quasi-contract’ that bind the public school to the nation. Next it is necessary to measure the widening gap between and obligation stricto sensu and i) the duration of school life ii) the promise of the social and professional integration. Moreover, coping with absenteeism by ensuring that obligation to attend school is met requires policing and violates the principle that only a free will may be put under an obligation. Roger Monjo then suggests that models of social solidarity, theories of care or the idea of ​​universal benefit could today complement the universal right to basic education.

The school for all; individual or collective emancipation? Early twentieth century to the 1930s, Frédéric Mole (Saint Etienne University)

The Republican plan for the school aimed at the universal emancipation of individuals but it also had a political purpose. This was to find a way of selecting elites based solely on merit and thereby end the transfer of inheritance through social position. F. Mole analyses objections early in the twentieth century by the revolutionary teachers union who questioned whether the reforms announced met the needs of the working class, or whether they were the defensive measures of the bourgeoisie to maintain its hegemony. In his response Ferdinand Buisson holds firm to the idea of ​​a single school. But the controversy remained alive between two conceptions of the role of the school: whether it should be considered a tool of collective social emancipation or of individual intellectual emancipation. At the end of the period, a compromise was reached around the idea of ​​democratization of education and mass education.

Studies : On useless knowledge. Creation, testing and the exercise of practical knowledge on the margins, Guillaume Sabin (University of Western Brittany)

Our time seems to be in thrall to instrumental knowledge: knowledge must be useful, profitable and measurable. At the same time, knowledge and information merge, it seems that we should no longer give expression to knowledge, but only absorb it. An experiment conducted in Buenos Aires between a movement of the unemployed and a group of ‘militant researchers’ confirms, however, the value of useless knowledge: it is a practice that prompts action, it is not detached from lived experience and refuses to allow itself to be contaminated by utilitarian reason. This experience recalls the links that connect knowledge to the human world, the character that is immanent in the creation of knowledge.

Studies : Feminism in and through education: perspectives on the feminist education of the daughters of Madeleine Pelletier (1914), Bérengère Kolly (Lisec, Lorraine)

In her paper of 1914, Madeleine Pelletier raises the question of an education that leads to a ‘real emancipation’ of women from the submission to which they are subject. Such education must be ‘feminist’, i.e., breaking with male society and organizing future solidarity between the currently oppressed. But both present difficulties and contradictions. Should not the break occur first within the community of women, the submission having been inculcated by them? Feminist education should then isolate the girl from her female contemporaries and affirm masculine models in a process of ‘civilization’ that promotes the emergence of new individuals. Or should the task be envisaged as being primarily a political (collective and social) one that is realized through the establishment of a limited number of ‘feminist schools’? Or else should the task be one of generalizing the ‘feminist spirit’ be undertaken by teachers in public schools who are themselves feminists? Feminist education would then be paradoxical and ‘in reverse’, favoring individual liberty before future solidarity and collective emancipation.