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Return to normal? Really?

Is a return to normal in education desirable? Our collaborator Marc-André Girard gives us his point of view on this subject.

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To reread the part 1: a spring like no other and part 2: arrive at Christmas on my knees

We don't quite know yet what 2021 has in store for us, but I don't expect things to return to normal in the coming months. Moreover, this return to normal so much hoped for, is it desirable? Do we really want to come back to it after what we've been through? It seems to me that collectively, we have come to several observations:

  1. Education is an essential service.
  2. Parents recognize more than ever the complexity of the act of teaching.
  3. They appreciate the importance of the school and recognize the work done, especially in terms of the implementation of health measures.
  4. ICT can cement social relationships rather than undermine them.
  5. Benevolence and the development of so-called “human” skills is more important than what can be included in the program.
  6. Etc. 

The normal in education has exposed us all our fragility. The pandemic has revealed (as if we did not already know it!) The dilapidated state of several schools, questions on the quality of the air, on the size of the classes, on the quantity of teachers, on school transport. , etc. Do we really want to get back to normal when we are witnessing what is unacceptable? By answering yes to this question, we go from witnesses to accomplices. We must refuse a possible return to normalcy and reinvent the school and all its facets, ranging from daycare to the architecture of schools, from school transport to teacher training. Everything must be reviewed and consultation activities leading to reform must be put in place quickly. 

We must also replenish our faculties of education and make the teaching profession attractive despite everything. Teaching is about creating possibilities, it is a way of contributing directly to society and culture. However, education must absolutely become THE government priority and that investments be made to renovate our schools and build new ones at the cutting edge of humanity. These schools must contain all the necessary tools so that the teachers can carry out the task entrusted to them simultaneously and that the pupils can feel good there. Schools in line with the social imperatives of the 21ste century and not those from the Parent Report.

It is a profession that can be thankless at times, like any profession in essential public services, such as nurses, doctors, police, etc. Even without a pandemic, teaching is a complex mission, because it is to offer students what they often do not realize they need.

For those who claim that the vaccine is offered as a priority to school personnel, know that I disagree. I will not rush to get the vaccine and I will patiently wait my turn. The vaccine must be offered urgently to those who are weakened by the virus, mainly the elderly. Also to those who work directly with infected people in hospitals and residential and long-term care centers. 

Things will still be unstable for a few months. I work to accept this instability and turn it into opportunities for my students and for myself. The situation will have been good: our young people are learning to tolerate ambiguity and we, education professionals, must seize the opportunities to redefine ourselves professionally: “the world is uncertain only for those who need certainty. For the others, it is only the world of always with the risks and the chances of its chances ”. (Sérieyx, 2003)

About the Author

Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard holds a bachelor's degree in social studies education (1999), a master's degree in history education (2003), a master's degree in education management (2013) and a doctorate in education (2022). He specializes in school-based change management and educational leadership. He is also interested in the 21st century competencies to be developed in education. He is a principal in a public high school and gives conferences on educational leadership, pedagogical approaches, change in schools and the professionalization of teaching. He has participated in educational expeditions in France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Morocco. In September 2014, he published the book "Le changement en milieu scolaire québécois" with Éditions Reynald Goulet and, in 2019, he published a trilogy on the 21st century school with the same publisher. He is a frequent contributor to L'École branchée on educational issues. He is very involved in everything that surrounds the professional development of teachers and principals as well as the integration of ICT in education. In March 2016, he received a CHAPO award from AQUOPS for his overall involvement. He is a recipient of the Régent-Fortin 2022 scholarship awarded by ADERAE for the significant contribution of his doctoral studies to the development of practice and knowledge in educational administration.

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