The “countercurrent” ideas launched by Gregory Charles in recent days to rethink the education system have surprised many stakeholders. In an interview with The press, he says it is based on his experience as a teacher with hanging students as well as the show Star Academy. Here’s what the experts think of some of your suggestions.
Photo QMI Agency, Joël Lemay
Separate girls and boys
Gregory Charles suggests putting boys and girls in separate classes because he finds that they learn differently.
All the actors agree that the low graduation rate of boys is a problem in Quebec, but they do not believe that this solution is the right one.
“There’s no added value to that,” says Égide Royer, a professor of education at Laval University.
In fact, research shows that there are more differences within a gender than between genders, says Isabelle Plante, a UQAM professor and head of the Canadian Research Chair in Gender Differences at School.
“Not all boys like robotics. And there are girls who like robotics, ”he explains.
By separating ourselves according to gender, we deprive some students of what they really need, several speakers point out.
In addition, the problem of abandonment of boys refers to disadvantaged environments, while in privileged environments we do not observe the same gender difference in this regard, he adds to show the complexity of this issue.
Also, there are only a handful of schools that are still for girls or only for boys, lists David Bowles, president of the Federation of Private Educational Institutions.
In the last 20 years, most universities have become mixed. In general, it was a question of meeting the demand of families who wanted their children of both sexes to go to the same school, says Mr. Bowles.
Schools that have made the leap to co-education have not noticed a drop in their academic results, he notes.
School closes in January
Gregory Charles suggests rethinking the school calendar so that school starts earlier in August and students have January off.
Several stakeholders also note that young people are tired in January, but find it hard to imagine how school could be left during this month.
“Mr Charles says schools should not be seen as daycare centers [qui ne font que répondre aux besoins des parents qui travaillent]recalled Sylvain Martel of the Regroupement des Comités de Parents Autonomes du Québec.
But wouldn’t the risk be that, for lack of courses, young people end up in daycare for a month? he analyzes.
A challenge of free education
In The press, Gregory Charles questions free public schooling by comparing the value of education to that of a ticket to a show that loses its appeal if sold at a ridiculous price.
“Free education is a core value in Quebec,” says Égide Royer.
“We’re rather trying to limit rising costs,” also notes David Bowles of the Federation of Private Educational Institutions.
In addition, he does not believe that it is the fact that parents pay for the main success factor of private schools. “We think it’s our autonomy, our agility in the decision-making process, when it comes time to direct our budgets and programs to the needs of students.”
Score above 100%
Gregory Charles suggests being able to score students above 100% in order to stimulate the most gifted, which raises the eyebrows of the educational community.
“Will the student really be more motivated? Although we give it 139% in French … ”, jokes Égide Royer.
“Personally, I don’t see the added value,” said David Bowles.
At Paul Arcand’s microphone yesterday, Gregory Charles criticized the selection system that makes even for the public, private programs concentrate students who have ease.
In this regard, the interested parties agree with Mr. Charles. “For years, the selection has been said to have led to a three-speed school system,” said Josée Scalabrini of the Federation of Teachers’ Unions.
“This fruit is ripe,” says Stéphane Vigneault, of the École’s ensemble movement, which is fighting for an end to “school segregation.” The idea of making concrete programs more accessible and restoring neighborhood schools to their core mission is gaining ground, he says.
A Gregory Charles effect?
Gregory Charles relates that he taught history to second-timers. In ten years, no student has dropped out of school, he says The press.
Isabelle Plante, a professor of didactics at UQAM, has no doubt that Gregory Charles is an inspiring professor. “Professors like Gregory Charles, we wish there were many.”
“The ‘teacher effect’ is extremely powerful,” he explains.
The “teacher effect” is a difficult phenomenon to pinpoint that manifests itself when one teacher manages to do “miracles” with his students, while another teacher who uses similar methods fails, summarizes M.jo Plant.
That is why it is risky to generalize the experience of a single teacher to all of them. “That doesn’t mean your experience isn’t valuable,” he says, only that it’s hard to replicate.
Therefore, it reminds us of the importance of research in education when making decisions. “The average teacher, not bad, but average, also needs to be able to apply all of that.”
“We think it’s great that a person with so much sympathy is pushing us to think about it,” says Sylvain Martel of the Regroupement des comités de parents autonomes du Québec.
“It simply came to our notice then […] I don’t think we should take their proposals for real value, “he added. Martel.
“His analysis is necessarily incomplete because he lacks a detailed understanding of the reality of public schools,” says Sylvain Mallette of the Independent Education Federation, which also celebrates Gregory Charles ’interest in the school public.
However, teachers must be absolutely part of this conversation, the unions agree.
“There are more than 150,000 teachers in Quebec. They have to have something to say about it, ”jokes Josée Scalabrini.