Following the terrorist outrages of November 13th , French sociologist Francois Dubet reflected on the Café Pedagogique website on the impact of such atrocities on the work of schools and on the role of schools in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
Should the education system take some responsibility?
“What happened is not a symptom of a French social or educational problem. You don’t kill over 100 people because of social exclusion or poor education. We have to stop pointing the finger at schools when seeking to blame or explain. Education is not responsible for what has happened and cannot on its own stop murder in the streets.
“Educational failure is not an explanation. We need to remember that the perpetrators of 9/11 were brilliant engineers. We need to understand that this terrorism is first and foremost the manifestation of a war.
“We need to challenge educational inequality and segregation but it’s absurd to imagine that these cause terrorism. The causes are to be found in Syria.
What role should schools play following these attacks?
“The role of the school should be to offer a place of safety and calm. School should be a place where life is normal.
“The role of teachers is to resist, to explain that these acts target everyone indiscriminately. They do not in any way call into question the cultural diversity of our country.
“Schools must guard against the stigmatising of any community. If we allow France to be divided by this, there will be serious consequences for the whole of society. If there is a retreat from reason and whole communities are blamed, the terrorists will have won. That is precisely what they want.
“If, on the other hand, we argue that extremists should not be allowed to say whatever they want and that we should ensure the police are able to do their job, those are matters for debate.
“I’m tending towards the pessimistic because I worry that people will connect these acts to the idea of defending oneself against a community and I fear that politicians will play this card for cynical reasons.”
Francois Dubet was speaking to Francois Jarraud in Café Pedagogique 23/11/2015