Alain Bentolila

Reforming Nursery School Education Publication date : January 8, 2009

“French nursery-school education has deluded us — but how much longer can the delusion last?

“It deludes parents, who see in it only what the schools are most skilful at showing: benevolence, participation in the social fabric, a type of supervision, an attractive display of pupils' efforts. It deludes those teachers who believe they can develop an active and effective pedagogy based on interaction, participation and classroom activities. And, finally, it deludes the educational institution itself, which does not have the courage to evaluate today's nursery schools in terms of knowledge acquisition and learning skills.

“In trying too hard to make nursery schools different from the rest of the school system, haven't we turned them into anything but a school?” writes Alain Bentolila.

The author proposes a plan of action to renew nursery schools and to make them an integral part of the school system. He offers concrete proposals to redefine new goals, new tasks and new functions; to re-examine and overhaul educational programmes; and to provide teachers with thorough, intensive training.

Alain Bentolila, the author of a highly regarded report on the teaching of grammar in French schools, is the founder of the Observatoire National de la Lecture (an organisation that evaluates reading skills in France) and a professor of linguistics at the University of Paris V-Sorbonne. His works include Tout sur l'école (2004), Apprendre à lire (1998), L'Orthographe pour tous. Bescherelle (1986) and La Grammaire pour tous. Bescherelle (1984).