The Pupils and the Republic Well-Being, Emulation and Selection in the (Re) Construction of an Educational System

Jean Louis Fabiani, Central European University

In the first decades of the Third Republic in France, from 1880 to WW1, the educational system was refunded by the French government in two ways: 1) aligning it with the ideological meritocratic motive of the times; 2) trying to restore a scientific and intellectual potential that the Franco-Prussian War had proved to be in great danger. The presentation aims to analyze the “moral mobilization” that allowed educators to require more efforts from the pupils while taking care of the needs of a new audience, particularly in primary schools. A new pedagogy was required, and the “science of education” appeared as a very active sub-discipline, shaping new careers, particularly for philosophy teachers. Durkheim was appointed as a pedagogist at the Sorbonne in 1906. Education was supposed to be the main tool for the modernization of France, to turn peasants into Frenchmen, as Eugen Weber wrote. Through the re-reading of classical pedagogical text (Durkheim, Binet, Buisson and others), I will try to shed new light on the place of the pupil in the reconstructed system. Analyzing parliamentary debates during the frequent legislative changes that occurred during the first part of the Third Republic, I will contribute to the social history of the birth of modern pedagogy, at the intersection of moralization and evaluation, of the political and the pedagogical. I will end my presentation by a reassessment of the notion of crisis, which is paradoxically omnipresent in a context of expansion. What was feared in a context of republican social optimism? We may evoke the resilience of conservative ideology or, on the contrary, the inability of the system to adjust to its new users.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 155. Educational Institutions and Student Well-Being