I remember my first day of class very well. I left my mother’s petticoats to enter a class where the teacher, Mrs. Toupin, was gradually teaching us to live independently, by instilling in us the values of the time. “I bawned one shot “, As Georges Dor would say in a controversial work that I published, years later.
I also remember my first day as a high school teacher at a school in Saint-Hyacinthe. The values had changed, and how! The Quiet Revolution had taken us a long way, transforming “the relationship that its institutions maintain with the sacred”. I had no teaching experience, only what was called at the time a C certificate, which was equivalent to the rhetoric of the classical course, that is 13 years of schooling, and I had the impression of entering the pit lions, where I had to fight with the thirty young strangers in front of me. Back home, at the end of the day, I had bawled one shot.
Gradually, unfortunately, “the democratic values of freedom, equality and justice” which have prevailed in the vast world of education since the Quiet Revolution seem to have given way to the values of personal and spiritual growth specific to New Age, laments Eftihia Mihelakis at the start of the book.
Humanize the teacher
Without claiming to be the only truth, these dialogues between four people, three women and one man, three of whom were born in the early 1980s, intend to humanize this teaching profession which very often seems to us obliterated by those who, civil servants, administrators and ministerial staff, carry out reforms after reforms in an arbitrary manner and try to combine the acquisition of knowledge with the needs of industry. “Where does education start? We wonder. During early childhood? During teenagehood ? Or adulthood?
Learn-teach would be as twins as read-write. One cannot go without the other, says Catherine Mavrikakis, who is known above all for his novels. “For me,” she said, “there is an obvious continuum between learning and passing on. “And she will have this Lacanian phrase to explain her teaching profession:” To teach is to offer something that one does not want to someone that one does not have. […] It is this mixture of desire and refusal that allows everyone to learn. “
At a time of confinement and the obligation to study via the Internet, alone, Mavrikakis recalls that teaching is nevertheless a team sport. Going to class, among the student community, is like going to the theater, she says.
To Jérémie McEwen, professor of philosophy at the college level, who asks her what makes her angry today, Eftihia Mihelakis answers: the neoliberal education system which tends to impose itself everywhere. To think that everything must be done according to the needs of the labor market. That education, ultimately, must make us good consumers, without critical thinking. This anger is also shared by McEwen who deplores the conservatism of his fellow philosophers. He admits that the professor, after a certain time, must renew himself, even if it means taking a break.
In their discussions, it is of course a question of success. McEwen feels he was successful when his students remember his lessons ten years later. The only discordant note for me is that it offers history teaching that would not promote national identity. What we unfortunately do not do today, with the results we know.
Here are dynamic exchanges, which do not neglect any aspect of the noble teaching profession.