“Teaching in college is one of the most beautiful things that has happened to me”, ignites Mara Goyet

She has been a history-geo teacher for a quarter of a century and never tires of her job. In Finishing a teacher, can we reconcile with college? which appears this Thursday, Mara Goyet enthusiastically describes the different facets of her profession. Without erasing the difficulties experienced by the teachers: the lack of means from which the establishments suffer, the complex management of the educational continuity during the Covid crisis, the trauma of the death of Samuel Paty… ““Finishing a teacher” sounds like a threat ; this is a chance for me,” she wrote. A book that comes at the right time as the Minister of Education, Pap Ndiaye, has just announced new measures for the college.

In the midst of a teacher recruitment crisis, your book sounds like a call for vocations. After 25 years of practice, how do you explain that your profession still fascinates you so much?

Teaching in college is one of the best things that has happened to me. And my job excites me even more today. At the beginning of my career, I especially appreciated the transmission, the perpetuation of culture… And I exercised my profession with great seriousness. But little by little, I freed myself from a number of injunctions. And in this profession, you always have the possibility of progressing, which is very stimulating.

You say you are “closer to codes, social networks, new words”. Does teaching teenagers make it possible to age less quickly?

It even keeps you childish! Teenagers are in constant turmoil, they are constantly changing and have an inexhaustible vitality.

You do not hesitate to tell anecdotes in class, to use humor in your lessons. Is this your secret to capturing the attention of your students?

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This is my technique for the transmission of knowledge to be the most effective. When teaching, you have to be ready to improvise and be creative. Humor is a great way to convey information. As the programs change little, I try each year to proceed differently, depending on my age and adapting to my students. Otherwise, I’ll be bored! You have to take pains not to fall into a routine.

You write: “The older I get, the nicer I am to the students”. One would have thought, on the contrary, that the teachers became less patient with the experience…

No, because after 25 years of teaching, I am no longer afraid of my students. I don’t need to be grumpy to avoid overflows. I also have the impression of better understanding middle school students, their troubles, their confusion…

“Being a college teacher guarantees to arouse little admiration”, you write. How to explain the lack of social recognition suffered by teachers?

First, by their low salaries. Then, because the mythology around the college teacher is often negative. He is often described as lazy, overwhelmed… And many adults have bad memories of their college years.

Why do you define the college as “the unloved of the institution”?

I defend the idea of ​​a single college. The problem is that it is considered “a small high school”. However, some students are already in serious academic difficulties when they enter. And we don’t have the human resources to help them enough. Moreover, the way schooling is designed during these years does not take into account the fact that middle school is a corridor between childhood and adolescence. School requirements are sometimes too high for those who have difficulty getting through this age.

According to you, the number of students on the verge of dropping out has increased significantly in recent years. For what reasons ?

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I notice that there are more and more students without vitality, who work little, who don’t talk much. This is due to their way of life, their dependence on mobile phones, the lack of communication with adults, the anxiety-provoking climate in which they grew up with the attacks and the climate crisis… And when they were already doing badly, the Covid knocked them down. Their parents are distraught and ask for our help, but we have a hard time getting them.

Do you think that Pap Ndiaye’s announcement this Wednesday, to set up an extra hour of lessons per week in French or maths for 6th graders in order to strengthen their skills, is a step in the right direction?

One hour of support will not be enough to change the situation. It’s a lazy solution.

You evoke the death of Samuel Paty as a collective trauma. What has changed in your way of teaching and in that of your colleagues?

Some censor themselves out of tact towards students or out of fear. They have understood that what they say in class can escape them completely and be misunderstood or distorted. And that this can have consequences for their safety. For my part, I do not censor myself, but I often wonder when I get home if my course was well received.

According to you, “secularism has been devalued and exploited”. How can it be better understood by students?

Secularism is unloved. It is necessary to discuss it from an early age with the pupils to show them the interest for them of evolving in a secular framework.

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You are talking about “earthenware” relationships between teachers and parents of students, that is to say?

Parent-teacher WhatsApp groups are flourishing. A small incident in class can very quickly take on major proportions. Both teachers and parents must make an effort to re-establish mutual trust.

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