School does not prepare for life, it is life
A chronicle by Christophe Dechêne. Teacher, primary school director.
Medhi’s class in fifth primary and Issam’s class in first work in tutoring. Élisa turns 8 and shares a homemade cake with the students in her class. At noon time, Lina, like other sixth graders, helps her 6-year-old goddaughter to read better. Hansel joined the climbing workshops, Kaïs the Spanish ones. The 17 children of the School Council are working on new projects related to the climate. Those of the higher degree finalize their ten-day trip to Aubrac. These realities experienced by children go back a year already, just before the first suspension of classes in schools. Today, for students, the majority of school life projects have come to a standstill. “Houston, we have a problem.” Given the complexity of the health situation, decisions are difficult for our policies to take, yet we have to make choices.
But aren’t our children of primary school age less impacted than their elders since classes take place face-to-face every day and they come without a mask?
Not so sure. So what do our 10-12 year-olds really think, who like us come up against the limits imposed by health rules when they want to give meaning to unifying projects that promote the development of a collective fabric? Here is the most significant feedback from 120 children, expressed through 4 open questions. They express with accuracy and nuance what they live and that calls out.
For many of them, “It’s a very hard and sad time at the same time. The Covid is rotting all our days. I’m sick of it! life sucks “. The deterioration of their relationship worries them: “We can’t be so close to our friends anymore. Our teacher wears a mask, it’s ugly. It doesn’t make sense not to be able to change places while we play together in the courtyard! noon are taken in class and no longer in the refectory, it is less good. I miss taking care of the little ones ! We can’t kiss anymore. “
On the other hand, what delights them the most, it is of course the friends. They insist that “in life, you need contacts. It’s important to meet other people “. They specify that “living alone is not easy, you have to help each other” and stress that they now take better care of others.
Autonomy and awareness
If they put forward their respect for sanitary measures, they above all share this intimate conviction that school is meaningful: “I learn new things there. Our teachers motivate us! We laugh there. It’s better to be at school than at home. We are lucky to be able to go there.” They testify to the acquired autonomy: “Confined, I learned to do better with my homework. became more independent than before. “
For some, another maturity has won them over: “In life, there are obstacles, like the Covid, we have to overcome them. It is not because there is the virus that everything stops. We protect ourselves, we must continue to live. never give up, even in difficult times, it there is always a solution. Life can always be worse. You have to stay strong. “
This awareness of an interdependent world, they express it perfectly: “Overnight, new pandemics can happen. We must always be prepared for something, to the i unforeseen. “ Finally, the words that have marked us the most have a philosophical significance: “It’s good that school continues but we still have the impression of not being able to be free. There are no more school trips and other gatherings. “
This debate between health and freedoms was therefore not the prerogative of our circles of friends! Thinking that children can take hold of these questions appeals to us. To educate is to bring up the child, to lead him to build this notion of freedom which only becomes meaningful if several choices are made and everyone can participate. So, for them and for our future, let us dare to relax certain rules, particularly those which allow the construction of collective and solidarity participations. School does not prepare for life, it is life. This pedagogy where you learn with and from your peers is essential and is available with the required caution but otherwise than in code red.