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Do We Need To Overhaul Schools From Top To Bottom?

Schools were created for a specific purpose, and it’s not necessarily the one you think. The purpose of school is to create citizens. In short, the subjects studied are often no more than a pretext for inculcating in pupils the citizen’s behavior needed to create a nation. Without schools, there are no citizens, without citizens, there is no nation, no people willing to die for the flag, no one to keep the country’s economy going, no one to represent you.

The Nation Is A Legal Person With Millions Of Delegates.

If you take away the people who make up a nation, you have an empty shell, a vague concept, an illusion, a memory of the past. What would Rome have been without the Romans, or Athens without the Athenians? Nothing. It was the Romans who made Rome, just as it is today’s citizens who make France, Italy or any other nation. This is why the school is of particular interest: it’s this very institution that guarantees the survival of national existence. But is it still as relevant today as it was then, in the age of social networks and the digital identity they engender?

Back To The Origins Of The Modern School

The notion of teaching or schooling has been around for a long time. However, schooling has only recently been made accessible to the masses. Before the 20th century, schooling was reserved for a tiny fraction of the population, for political, economic and intellectual leaders and elites. The notion of citizenship was in its infancy, and people tended to refer to themselves as subjects of the king or emperor. Industrialization profoundly altered the appeal of school.

Industrialization As A New Civilizational Paradigm

Demography has always been a power issue. If you can win the loyalty of millions of people through a narrative that serves you (religion, national identity, etc.), you become powerful. Industrialization made agricultural work less labour-intensive: a machine and oil could replace the work of a hundred men. What was to be done with this surplus labor? They had to be assigned to workshops and factories, which were located in towns and cities. What’s the difference between the countryside and the city? Culture.

The School Made It Possible To Do Several Things: To Keep The Children And To Inculcate An Urban Culture In The Children.

Children’s allegiance to their parents is total on a family farm. When parents are in the factory and children are in school, family allegiance is more tenuous. Children become aware of their belonging to the nation, which may call them to arms when they grow up to defend their homeland. School is the place where a culture (and often a language) foreign to the countryside is taught. From then on, children were no longer the sons of their parents, but of the fatherland (as the Marseillaise proclaims: “Allons enfants de la patrie …”). This cultural gap widens over time, and ultimately becomes the reason for future conflicts of allegiance. With parents working, it’s essential to find a place for the children to stay, while at the same time optimizing the time they spend away from their parents. School is a great solution to this problem.

Schools Teach Docility

The hallmark of today’s schools is student passivity. They are expected to be passive, because passivity is synonymous with docility. A docile pupil will be a docile future citizen who will follow the clear-cut path shown to him or her. Nothing is left to chance. What may seem like an aberration to you is in fact well thought-out, because it serves purposes of which you are not aware. In principle, school is there to elevate students’ minds and make them self-reliant. But what if its hidden purpose is exactly the opposite? Unfortunately, the reality of the situation leads me to consider this second possibility.

National Allegiance Exists, But Supranational Links Are Increasingly Strong

Technology and capital have no borders. If you’re very rich, you can live anywhere you like. Your loyalty will have more to do with the capital you want to protect than with national allegiance. Of course, there are exceptions, and perhaps national loyalty on the part of the very wealthy is even greater than I think. Communication technology is breaking down barriers and borders: we are increasingly brothers and sisters in humanity, in all four corners of the globe. We get to know those who live far from us, and we notice that they’re not so different; they have the same aspirations. So what’s the point of cultivating national identity, especially since war is an archaic way of resolving international tensions – albeit one that is still used today?

The School As We Know It Must Disappear

Today’s schools are modeled on factories: the teacher is a foreman with the clock ticking, and the pupils are workers or employees in the making. To succeed in the knowledge economy, you don’t need to know things (because knowledge is paradoxically accessible and cheap), you need to invent new things. To invent, you need to assimilate knowledge and learn from an early age to work in “project mode”. The future is in project mode; it has to be created and thought out on the basis of real-life experience. Schools have also been designed to save human resources (teachers). We need to divide the number of teaching hours while doubling the number of teachers per class (or doubling the number of classes), which means not increasing the national education budget. The rest of the time, children should be autonomous, working on specific projects of their own choosing, which could solve tomorrow’s (or today’s) problems.

Schools Must Prepare For A World Without Work

The exponential productivity gains offered by mechanization, automation, robotization and artificial intelligence will make employment scarce, despite the principle of creative destruction – new labor needs will be so highly skilled that only a tiny fraction of the population will be able to fill them (source: A World Without Work, Daniel Susskind, 2020). The future no longer lies in a world based on full employment, but in the quest for harmony, starting with the preservation of ecosystems. Wealth will increase, but we’ll need less manpower. Inactive people will be tasked with several essential yet economically unquantified tasks: preserving the environment, improving their mental health and that of others, cultivating harmony in all its forms (diet, writing essays on the subject, etc.). It may sound like utopia, but we need to work towards this ideal of harmony – it’s the only way out in a world increasingly plagued by doubt and fatalism.

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