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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Des élèves de Saint-Denis interrogent la notion d’amour

by Caroline Constant

High-school Students in Saint-Denis Study the Concept of Love

Translated Friday 19 August 2016, by Henry Crapo

In the framework of the project "Interclass" on Radio France-Inter, the class of troisième [1] at the Collège Geyter, in Saint-Denis [2], produced four reports on "Love", a theme voted upon by the class.

"If one were to live without love, it would be like living with but half a heart." One must be a child to give voice to such discourse with such spontaneity. This testimony was gathered, amongst others, by students of the troisième at the middle school Pierre-de-Geyter,in Saint-Denis.Saint-Denis, a city cruelly tested last November, and Pierre-de-Geyter, the establishment that gave birth to the project "Interclass" of France-Inter, a project that permits the students to create newspaper reports, with the help of professionals, in order to push back against the idea of conspiracy, and to open a critical eye in the face of information.

The students of Pierre-de-Geyter chose to work on the subject of Love, central to the life of an adolescent of 15 years of age. They posed themselves four basic questions for their reports. On the first question: "May one love whomever one likes?", they decided, after much discussion, to concentrate on religious differences, by going to meet a rabbi, a priest, an imam, and a sociologist. The responses they received, embossed with humanity, still move them today. A second team chose to meet people close to prisoners; how do they live their love, maternal, fraternal, conjugal, when the bars of prisons separate them? A young adolescent tells of this experience, to the microphone, saying to what point the confidences imparted to him had upset him. A third report concerned love on social networks. And a final report, absolutely delicious, about love at any age. These students not only visited their former primary school, but also went to a retirement home. The results are so marked with vivacity, with humor, with humanity, that one says, when listening to these works, that "Interclass" is certainly a wager that has completely succeeded.

The project "Interclass" concerned five classes in middle schools in "zones of priority education" [3]. The management of France Inter launched the project at the beginning of the school year, last fall, in response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. The result, on the life of the children, as well as on their work, is absolutely mind-boggling. It proves, once more, the necessity of circulating speech and knowledge in the society, all the while having trust in the intelligence of the youth.

[1For students of some 14 years of age, the troisième is the final year of middle school (or collège), before entering the three-year high school (or lycée), so it roughly coincides (except for content) with the first year in North American high schools.

[2a close suburb to the north of Paris, home to the newspaper l’Humanité

[3ie: schools of "under-privileged", receiving special government funding.

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