Terrorism and classrooms

During the 2015 attacks, the issue of terrorism was linked to school. How can we explain that paroxysmal violence, with no apparent link to the educational system, ended up having repercussions on it, or even destabilizing it??

On January 7, 2015, the Kouachi brothers entered the premises of Charlie Hebdo and massacre those present. On January 22, the Minister of National Education, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, announced the mobilization of the school for the values ​​of the Republic. How can an event and an institution having no a priori no connection could they have come so close, and been brought together, at this bloody start to 2015? This is the question that Emmanuel Saint-Fuscien, specialist in the First World War and education under the Third Republic, addresses.

THE guilty trials intend school

A historian, Saint-Fuscien here also becomes a sociologist to understand how the school was hit in every sense of the term by the Islamist attacks of January and November 2015. The author draws on both his work relating to the effect of armed conflicts on educational systems and on a resolutely interdisciplinary bibliography. Its material is plural: two written questionnaires (one with 36 educational staff shortly after the events, another with 158 middle school students two years later), interviews (10 conducted by the author, 5 conducted as part of his seminar there).EHESS) and an exploitation of institutional production and online testimonies.

As Saint-Fuscien points out (p. 12), the link made in a few days between school and Islamist terrorism, apart from questioning it, is specific to France in 2015. In no other European country is the victim of such acts and the list is unfortunately long , this was not established and even less mentioned. Certainly, the author reminds us throughout the work, the importance of the educational institution for the French republican project is known.

However, disturbing to say the least, when three Jewish children were shot dead in cold blood in a schoolyard in 2012 by the same Islamist terrorism, this was not seen from this angle an attack on the educational institution, including a posteriori in 2015 (p. 73). Therefore, how can we explain that paroxysmal armed violence, unrelated to the educational system, ended up calling the latter into question, destabilizing it and even making it react??

Saint-Fuscien recalls the sequence of events which paved the way between January 7 and the disruption of the educational institution, while immediately noting (p.19-20) that it would be vain to hope to have an exhaustive vision of an institution employing more than a million agents ( e)s and educating ten times more children. The author recalls the pieces of guilty trials went to the French school.

like Khaled Kelkal in 1995 or Mohammed Merah in 2012, the academic failure of the Kouachi brothers reflects on a supposed school bankrupt. This perception juxtaposes that, existing since the beginning of the 2000s, of lost territories of the Republic reconquer in working-class neighborhoods and their schools.

The counterexample from November 2015

Certain minutes of silence in schools on January 8 were disrupted (200 according to the Ministry of National Education). These disturbances led to a national controversy and, on January 22, a senatorial commission was organized by Franoise Cartron and Jacques Grosperrin, whose report was delivered on January 1.erJuly. It is the school which is now indicted, despite the feedback from numerous educational actors who emphasize (p. 48-49) that it had no role in the radical deviation of the terrorists of January 2015.

In the opposite direction, the attacks of November 2015, by mobilizing more explicitly in the political and media world the lexical field of war culture (p. 57), leave school aside. On the contrary, the educational system is seen as a place of harmony of a united nation, engaged in a military struggle against those responsible for the killings on the terraces and at the Bataclan. The fact that the Stade de France was targeted seems to have particularly shocked and marked the students, as football arouses the support and identification of many of them, beyond ethnic, religious or territorial divisions.

The author also highlights the different stages of administrative mobilization of the educational system, from its summits to school establishments. It draws on its practices in the contexts of past conflicts (First World War, occupation and reconstruction, colonial repression, p. 84-88).

Three issues then appear. The first is that of the structuring of a dedicated administrative apparatus (the historian Benot Falaize is recruited on questions of the values ​​of the Republic within the Dgesco, the education administration of the minister). The second is securing schools. The third is the intense placement of secularity on the national education agenda, inextricably linking regulatory dimensions and pedagogical will (p. 105-111).

Limperative of the extra-program

The final stage of the work, the consequences of the attacks locally both revealed underlying fissures in the educational community and brought to light new dynamics within it. Thus, the personality and actions of the heads of establishment appear particularly evident in the interviews and responses to questionnaires. Are opposed to goodcapable of managing the event efficiently and humanely, and badwhich led to the isolation of teaching staff in the aftermath of the tragedies (p. 111-116).

The reactions put the other in mirror (pp. 141-148). Thus, the students saw teachers moved, even in tears, many of the latter having grown up with Charlie Hebdo an intimacy that the students did not share. Likewise, fears are present in some of the responses. Even more difficult, the pedagogical response seems difficult. Faced with the unexpected, and even bloodier,imperative of the extra-programaccording to the author's pretty formula (p. 159-167), led the practices and tinkering carried out in the emergency the day after the attacks.

It should also be emphasized that, according to the book, this improvisation was clearer in January than in November, when the response modalities and the educational resources were already more proven (especially since a weekend had passed between November 13 and the resumption of classes). Monday classes in a large part of the second degree). One of the educational techniques that seems to have been favored was class debate, an exercise that is both widespread and feared (p. 167-174).

Indeed, while the institutional desire was to calm a conflictual climate, the student's words and their reception revealed ambivalent relationships with the institution, in particular, as numerous other studies show, the discriminatory feeling on the part of young people from working-class and cultural neighborhoods. Muslim (pp. 171-172).

There pedagogization of lacity

Three reflections can guide the reading of this useful and up-to-date work, ranging from the most general to the most localized in the educational system. The first point is underlined by the author himself: How, in this context, could the school become a battlefield put out the fire? (p. 196). The process of pedagogization, already described by Jacky Beillerot in 1982, results in entrusting the educational system with an increasing number of tasks and objectives to resolve.

Now does not such an expectation risk containing within itself its failure?? Does it not put excessive pressure on educational staff, while expecting the impossible here, to repair and prevent a society from which Islamist terrorists have emerged??

The second questioning concerns the continued growth in the evocation of secularism, values ​​of the Republic and citizenship in the missions and objectives themselves as an extension of the educational system. This pedagogization of lacity was particularly reinforced following the attacks of January 2015. This was clear within the framework of theEMC (moral and civic education) which were finalized precisely in 2015.

Now what can we expect from such an extension, beyond a better understanding of the laconic principle? This prioritization cannot be an end in itself, except considering that secularism could completely resolve the disorders of the educational or, more generally, social fabric.

Finally, the book highlights how, under the fire of the attacks, the school was affected by emotions, feelings and sometimes contradictory perceptions. If, as the author notes, its crisis after the attacks appears to be largely an excessive conclusion, School under fire shows that January and November 2015 had an impact even in the classrooms.