Alain Bentolila

All about scholl Publication date : October 24, 2004

How did the French school system, originally based on the principles of French Republicanism and endowed with strong political and social goals, come to represent little or nothing not only in the eyes of the students enrolled in it, but also in the eyes of the teachers? Can the factors that contributed to sap the foundations of its real mission be identified? Should responsibility be attributed to television, the Internet or the educational reforms that have followed one another for the past twenty years? Is it possible today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, for school to remain a space where learning, thinking, debating and, sometimes, insubordination can take place? What can be done to re-inject life and meaning into the school system, which forms the daily environment of millions of young people?

This is a brilliant, clearly argued demonstration of how the inability of the school system to evolve and develop a critical spirit may lead to the general failure of our entire society.

Alain Bentolila reminds us, powerfully and incisively, that we have a duty to say “no”, and that it must be rehabilitated in its noble, active form among young people. He argues in favour of a series of specific measures that he believes will pull the school system out of its lethargy and shake students out of their passivity.

Alain Bentolila, a linguist specialising in the French language, teaches at the University of Paris-V. He is the author of De l'illettrisme en générale et de l'école en particulier (Plon, 1996), Le Propre de l'homme: Lire, parler, écrire (Plon, 2000), Profession parents (Nathan, 2000) and Le Robert et Nathan: Orthographe, Conjugaison, Vocabulaire, Grammaire (Nathan, 2001).