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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Violence scolaire : ce que veulent les professeurs

by Laurent Mouloud

Violence in the Schools: What the teachers want.

Translated Sunday 11 April 2010, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Gene Zbikowski

A special assembly to discuss security in the schools is opening in Paris today. On this occasion, teachers express their doubts and their expectations on this subject, which has been over-exploited by the Minister of Education, Luc Chatel.

Supervision of students, tailored teaching... As the special assembly on security in the schools opens, teachers put forward their solutions.

“Stable teaching teams and adapted pedagogy” – Camille Jouve, teacher of history and geography, Henri-Wallon lycée in Aubervilliers, five miles north of Paris.

“My students don’t leave their economic and family problems or the neighborhood fights behind when they enter the school gate. That’s the basic problem. And I’m not sure the government wants to focus on that. Having said that, there are also things that can be done within the school. You have to know that the violent students are, most often, failing in school. You see them arrive in junior high mainly filled with good will. Then the bad grades start piling up and they begin thinking of themselves as dunces. And sometimes they wind up becoming violent, as a reaction to this school system which is violent towards them. So the answer we need has to also be a pedagogical one. We need to manage to adapt ourselves better to the needs of these failing students, and to practice tailored teaching in small groups. That’s a pious wish so long as we are teaching overcrowded groups of 25 students... Next, the stability of the teaching teams is extremely important. When you know the students, their families, their brothers and sisters and the neighborhood well, that makes it possible to see situations differently and to find the right solution.”

“The school has to supervise students better.” Christine Lichenauer, teacher of French, history and geography at Adolphe-Chérioux lycée in Vitry-sur-Seine, seven miles southeast of Paris.

“I don’t expect anything from this special assembly because I don’t believe that the government is ready to change its policy of budget reductions. Whether you like it or not, the question of human resources is crucial. Today, the schools where the most violence is occurring are the ones where there is a lack of supervisors, of educational counselors, of psychologists, and school nurses... That’s the reality. The schools have to supervise the students better on a daily basis and make up for what the families aren’t providing. Next, this violence on the part of students doesn’t just fall from the sky. It is directly linked to the social violence that undermines life outside the schools. If the government doesn’t take on that problem and just limits itself to security measures (video surveillance, electronic gates...), there won’t be any reason for the antisocial behavior of some students to disappear.”

“Favor less violent communication.” Delphine Weill, teacher of French and history at Les Hauts-de-Flandre technical high school in Seclin (nine miles south of Lille).

“Responding correctly to small acts of violence, daily irritation and disorderly classes requires a certain maturity in teaching practices. When I was a young teacher, I wasn’t too sure how to handle a student who got out of hand in class. I tended to overplay firmness: ‘that’s not the way things are going to be! You can’t talk to me like that!” And then, little by little, I learned to use different orders, a less violent form of communication. Now, I say instead that I understand his irritation but that we’ll discuss it after class. By putting it off to later, it allows the tension to fall. He himself feels less under attack. You have to know that the difficult students are often failing at school, and have complex personal situations that make life difficult. And the teacher is seen as one more authority that has to be put up with.”

The figures.

10.5 serious incidents for every 1,000 students in the junior and senior high schools were recorded in 2008-2009, compared with 11.6 in 2007-2008, according to the figures of the Ministry of Education.

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