France is preparing to commemorate the assassination of Samuel Paty, the professor beheaded on leaving his school by an Islamist, on October 16, 2020. The teacher had shown caricatures of Muhammad during a course on freedom of ‘expression (in EMC, Moral and Civic Education). Ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, October 15, 2021, in schools throughout France, and Saturday in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, in its former college.
A year after the immense emotion provoked by this tragedy, it is with “more conviction” that Véronique, professor of history-geography and moral and civic education in Nice, continue her teaching. “Above all, I must continue to do it”, assures the teacher. Some say they are a little more cautious. “When I show Charlie Hebdo cartoons, maybe I put more quotes in them”, confides Philippe, teacher in Toulon, “because you can’t help but think about what happened to Samuel Paty.”
Other teachers evoke a more in-depth dialogue with the parents of pupils: more explanation to avoid misunderstandings. Because, sometimes, questions arise from elementary school. Véronique, a teacher for 20 years in the Var, notes more verbal violence, as if a dike had blown. “It’s anxiety-provoking, even for the most experienced, she says, when it is discussed in schools, colleagues are not very comfortable with having to bring up the subject. “
“Everything in the cultural fields, for example we are Provençal, and we wonder if we can do the Marcel Pagnol circuit and go see a Provençal crèche. But what are we going to tell me? afraid of what someone will tell me and not want to get into the debate, well I don’t. “Véronique, teacher in the Var
Today, the official instructions of national education are clear: do not let anything go, and report any attack on secularism. At the last score, 547 reports were made in three months (between December 2020 and March 2021), about religious signs or clothing, or challenges to teachings. But their number has not really changed for a year. On the other hand, requests for advice from teachers to their hierarchy are more numerous. “There is a demand”, confirme Nathalie Fetnant, technical advisor to the rector of Nice: “How could I go about it? How do I give the floor? How do I introduce the subject? What can I lean on? “, teachers ask him.
To be better equipped on these questions of secularism, teachers are strongly encouraged to receive training. The ministry’s goal is for 100% of adults in schools to be adults within four years.
Education and secularism: the report by Noémie Bonnin