Files of the week

Open School

Whoever wants to enter a school now has to show their credentials most of the time. If you're not a teacher or a student, the check will be a little tighter, but in any case one will be identified and most often filmed. The situation is not so different in companies today; if you aren't recognized, you can at least be identified. We are a long way from the village school where everyone was recognized.

One might think that this is the way the times want it, but the reasons are a little more concrete: the size of schools is commonly more than 1000 students and it becomes humanly difficult at the reception desk to recognize each individual; to this is added the mobility of people, variable schedules and programmed changes at very short notice. It is difficult to know if a person belongs or not in groups that have become heterogeneous, and broken families do not help to find one's way around; belonging to a group is no longer assured in a very consistent manner. Finally, in widespread anonymity and connectivity, any institution must enforce a basic standard of safety or risk being targeted.

The school climate is necessarily transformed. Some would argue that these controls make the school look like a prison, but they are not at all. School is no different from most public places: places of work, entertainment, lodging, commerce. The ubiquity of surveillance encourages everyone to conform to the rules. In this, school is a social construct and is a perfect preparation for an organized and complex society. "If you follow the rules, you will be left alone."

That these rules have not been discussed or updated does not prevent them from being put in place, but it can undermine their effectiveness. In a hopefully open school, the answer lies in tolerance. In sum, it is not so much the presence of control as its effect that counts, an effect on human relationships and especially on learning, the essential mandate of the school. Those who control control can change, it is better to mark out its use and to know how to question it. An open school must have certain characteristics, tolerance is one of them.

In this edition, several approaches to openness are presented. An open school is always more interesting, both for students and teachers.

Denys Lamontagne - [email protected]

Illustration: DépositPhotos - Jesussanz

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