Member of the national secretariat of Snes-FSU (first secondary school union), Claire Guéville is also, like Samuel Paty, professor of history and geography. She is therefore also led to take EMC (Moral and Civic Education) courses for her students. Between astonishment, sadness and anger, she was kind enough to tell us about these fears and her expectations after the murder of her colleague.
What do you think when you have to take moral and civic education courses and know that you will have to continue after what has just happened?
Claire Guéville: First we say to ourselves: “But hey, he was just doing his job!” “. We history and geography teachers have all already done this sequence on freedom of expression. I approach it in particular with the second classes, in the context of press freedom, often at the time of Press Week at school. In general I devote a session to the so-called satirical press – but by disconnecting it from the news. My purpose is not to discuss blasphemy or not, for example. It is about showing the diversity of the press, in a context of freedom of expression. But freedom of expression cannot be taught: it is practiced. It is therefore a matter of showing and practicing, to educate in the exercise of this freedom. It can be learned: the techniques of debate, the evacuation of physical violence … We try to put this in place, with the means at our disposal, which are increasingly reduced including, quite simply, in terms of time that we have to do it. But when we project these images, caricatures or not, we always place them in a long time, taking a step aside.
What do you fear after the murder of your colleague?
Claire Guéville: I fear the temptation to reduce our educational freedom, and that we will be deprived of it in the name of a form of political instrumentalisation. When you are a history and geography teacher, you are subjected from all sides to permanent injunctions to teach as necessary, a form of political control over what we do – which can go as far as preventing the exercise of our profession. We have a government and a minister who are only in the begging of the bill: injunction to freedom, injunction to secularism … Personally, I’m a little tired of seeing politicians telling us how to prepare an educational sequence, without even think about consistency with school curricula. They are never in the implementation. But this is the daily life of our courses. We need to prepare our students to become free and empowered citizens. Any history and geography teacher, and even any teacher, is an activist of that. Fear does not guide us at all.
Are teachers sufficiently trained to deal with such topics in class?
Claire Guéville: No. Not only is the continuing education of teachers reduced to nothing, but it is also totally dependent on reforms rejected by the entire profession. And even when we have trainers who do a good job, it only affects a very small audience anyway.
Have you, yourself, had any problems bringing up these topics in class?
Claire Guéville: There are daily difficulties, yes, but they relate more to what constrains us in our daily practice: the lack of time, the lack of spaces for expression – with parents, in particular. I have personally taught in areas where certain subjects such as the extermination of the Jews of Europe, the Algerian war could, for example, pose a problem. But I never had any problems with the students. School is still a place where everyone can benefit from a space of freedom. It is a place where we come, precisely, to learn to be free. What is wrong, however, is that many politicians have played with fire by hitting teachers. With colleagues we remember the bac strike, which we had to take in June 2019 to protest against the reform: at that time, it was the President of the Republic himself who treated us as “takers.” hostages ”, and then there was a whole rampage where we were downright compared to terrorists. We can’t help but remember that today. I am also thinking of the four colleagues from Melle, in Deux-Sèvres, who went to a disciplinary council this week for protesting against the E3C (see L’Humanité of October 15) … Our own institution has us in the sights, we consider them enemies, discredit our word. It pays off after a while. Our function and our position in society are weakened because we are stigmatized, including by our own employer.
What avenues can we open to remedy this?
Claire Guéville: If we want to mobilize around this tragic moment, it is by putting public school at the center of all concerns. This should be the first thing on the government program, instead of selling off the school for the benefit of private pharmacies, instead of reducing its means and still planning massive job cuts as is the case in the second degree . If the visible emotion of Jean-Michel Blanquer, this Saturday, could lead to a change of policy, but let’s go! School must be given the means to function properly for all students.