As part of the “Reading the City” action 1, the Regional Center for Educational Documentation Crete organized a colloquium entitled “Reading the City: Language Learning, Culture and Integration” on June 15 and 16 at the Grande Arche de la Defense. .
At this symbolic crossroads of the city, teachers, librarians, librarians and elected representatives of local authorities, who came in large numbers, discussed with experts the means to be used to create the best conditions for an effective fight against exclusion.
Language and city
The city has a role in the evolution of language, more precisely language, said Louis-Jean Calvet, professor of linguistics at the Sorbonne. The place of convergence 2 is the linguistic microcosm that catalyzes the main issues of communication through its action on the form of language. At the same time, in order to communicate, you need a common language, lingua franca.
Today’s economic problems exacerbate the issue of integration. Young people no longer dominate the culture of their parents (mother tongues are rarely transmitted in France) and no longer dominate the culture of their host country. Faced with an identity that shows its difference by abandoning French as a language of communication 3, Louis-Jean Calvet, for whom integration does not mean erasing differences, wonders about the role of the school of the Republic. How, in the current climate of great concern, at the risk of nationalist slippage, to restore a positive image of the French language? For him, learning and re-evaluating the language of the culture of origin are essential factors in the fight against exclusion: “Bilingualism has never made people stupid.”
School integration and citizenship
After noticing the collapse of the image of academic success, the collapse of it due to the economic crisis, Yves Botin, academic inspector of the Seine Saint-Denis, reaffirmed the primary role of the school, which assigns two main tasks: language acquisition and education. Patrick Bouveau, from the University of Lille 2, answered him with a series of questions. Faced with a complex situation due to social heterogeneity, what does the school do in relation to its environment? How does the school / city connection work? How to resolve the contradiction between the closed world of education and the necessary openness to the outside world? He then raised the issue of school readability by parents, insisting on the need for a realistic reflection on the way the school is interpreted 4.
Jacqueline Airault, of the DRAC (Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs) of Ile-de-France, painted the cultural practice of young people, emphasizing their interest in painting, their taste in comics and science fiction and the great importance they attach to music, reading “Classic” is related only to school. She insisted that writing a diary or a song, intended for herself, be experienced as a lonely activity without the intention of communicating.
A writing workshop as a training offer can help show that writing is a pleasure that encourages discussion. Writing with writers in a place other than school allows for the actual unlocking and discovery of certain students by their teachers, especially on disadvantaged sites. The practice of writing transforms the view of writing, revives the book and restores the taste for literature.
The transformation of the language of young people was mentioned by Christian Bachmann, from the University of Paris KSIII. This language, which is practiced by a highly marginalized part of the population, uses special, coded semantic fields, and includes elements borrowed from multiple languages and elements of language integrated into gestures.
In circles that, due to the duration of the crisis, are becoming increasingly impoverished, different cultural values and behaviors are emerging. What might emerge as a temporary way of expression risks crystallizing into a way of life. Christian Bachmann ended by asking about the pedagogical consequences that the perpetuation of this type of culture would have on the school and the need to reconsider pedagogical practices.
School, city, reading
For Marie-Claire Millet, from the Department of Books and Reading, writing is, in a school context, a means of evaluation. The great happiness of the library is that access to reading is free for all readings and without evaluation. Free wandering leads young people to a variety of reading experiences that are all languages to enter into communication. Libraries display books, they are a place of reception, advice, discovery of contemporary literature, training.
But in order to fully fulfill these roles, they must adjust their ways of working and openness (without financial obstacles, wide time intervals). In cooperation with the school, libraries offer various actions that revive books and activate young people: reading commissions, meetings with writers, writing workshops. Through a variety of reading access offers, they affirm themselves as a central pillar of the school-city partnership.
The study, conducted with difficult sixth-grade readers, led Gerard Shaw, a researcher at the National Institute for Educational Research, to note that they did not necessarily experience rejection of written things, but a sense of deep failure due to lack of competence. which are read by teachers. “
Several figures – testifying to educational, cultural and political issues – illustrate the theme of social division. From the preparatory course, 4 or 5% of children from privileged backgrounds were reported to have difficulties, compared to 33% in a working environment. In the 2nd grade of primary school, 18% of children outside the ZEP sector do not master the basics of reading, compared to 37% of children in the ZEP sector. So we need to redouble our efforts around writing. The democratization of cultural practices in and out of school takes place through the implementation of actions that are focused on writing. It is necessary, he says, to promote intellectual development, happiness of learning, understanding.
Young people are all potential readers, but the conditions for becoming one are related to very strong social factors. Ivan Šenuf, from the French Readers’ Association, evoked the notion of writing that everyone carries within themselves. Today, the social body can no longer delegate to school the role of an exclusive approach to reading. It is necessary to develop actions in partnership, ie to work in complementarity with the school around writing.
For Philip Merrier, from the University of Lyon 2, learning to read is not only learning to master codes, but also part of culture.
Reading is not only deciphering, but also constructing meaning. Reading the text requires a personal investment; but in order for this investment to exist, it is necessary to master the minimum code, without which there is no communication. Failure often occurs because the young person does not make sense of the reading or because it makes too much sense by sticking to details that do not match the text. We need to help young people to structure themselves, to orient themselves.
Similarly, we do not read only for functional reasons. Writing also helps to find answers to the basic questions that men ask themselves. Questions, anthropological invariants, that young people always ask: “Where do I come from? Who I am ? Reading can allow me to discover a secret that tells me about myself. In order to maintain the connection between the generations, it is necessary to devise an ethic of educational activities that has, for perspectives, arranging spaces that are possible places for learning, discovering new things. We must not put ourselves in the place of young people, but allow them to find a place for themselves.