The skills to be privileged in the era of abundance of information

Guy Rocher, Quebec sociologist, recalls the changes experienced by our education system in the 20th century and suggests skills to be favored today.

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Guy Rocher, Quebec sociologist, recalls the changes experienced by our education system in the 20e century and offers skills to be privileged today.

Photo : Simon Villeneuve - CC BY-SA 3.0

Guy Rocher was invited to deliver the opening conference on 4e International conference on education, held in Montreal on May 18 and 19. Quebec sociologist born April 20, 1924, this man was a member of what is commonly called the Parent Commission, but whose official name is Royal Commission on Education in the Province of Quebec. Both an intellectual and a man of action, he defended the welfare state and was an important actor in the Quiet Revolution.

Here are some notes taken during his conference.

In the first half of this' 20e century assassin ”(exact expression used by Mr. Rocher), education and health in Quebec were reserved for the elite. Until the Second World War, we met a lot of illiterates. However, in the 1950s, new ideas were circulating within societies. Quebec's education system was no longer adapted to the post-war social structure.

The “Parent Commission”, which led to the establishment of the Department of Education and compulsory education up to age 16, was influenced by the thinking of James Bryant Donner, a chemist who served as president of the University. Harvard and author of the preface to the report General Education in a Free Society, published in 1950 by Harvard University Press.

At that time, an immense social and human revolution took place in Quebec, a tsunami whose influence has not yet been completely absorbed more than 50 years later. Our education system has evolved from an elite-only system to a mass education system. This was the era of the creation of high school comprehensive and democratic CEGEPs, which replaced the elitist “classic courses”.

The creation of CEGEPs was a revolution. Our post-secondary education system has gone from a private system to a public system, from a religious system to a secular system, from a paid system to a free system, from a system of gender segregation to a system where boys and girls were in the same classes.

The religious, who once had full authority in the matter, accepted these drastic changes in the name of democracy. The nuns who had only taught girls suddenly found themselves teaching teenagers and young men. It was a shock.

The University of Montreal was bourgeois in design, at the top of the mountain, adjacent to the upscale Outremont district. UQÀM, for its part, wanted to be a popular, accessible university, housed in the city center. The democratization of education has also seen universities set up in the regions. The network of the University of Quebec has allowed the creation of a class of Quebec intellectuals, those people who earn their living by the work of intelligence and teaching.

It was about an important phenomenon of civilization, a sociological phenomenon of convergence between utilitarianism and humanism. However, believes Mr. Rocher, this education system has not completed its evolution. Our society must face the impact of the technological revolution which is transforming the world of work, communications and culture.


Focus on new skills in the era of information abundance

We live in an era of both wealth and information poverty, he says. All knowledge is at your fingertips, but does being know how to orient itself on this “sea of information”? In this context, he believes it is important to reassess the initial and in-service training of teachers. Indeed, intellectual probity, a critical attitude as well as a desire for permanent education become skills to be favored, according to Mr. Rocher.

"When we finish our studies, the studies are not finished", he concluded, wishing us "a happy life because we are curious" ...


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About the Author

Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise LePage is a pedagogue and museologist who recently came out of premature retirement to be reborn as an educational designation. She has taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke in science education, in addition to working at the Canadian Heritage Information Network as a museology consultant. She also writes for our French friends at Ludomag. She also invites all interested to contact her so that she can talk about you, your students, your school and your particular experiences in digital and computer education.

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