Interview with psychologist and former teacher Rebecca Duvillié. She gives lots of advice ...
1. What do you think are the causes of school failure?
There are three major causes for school failure.
- First, the economic causes: a child from a disadvantaged social background will be more likely to be in school failure. These are the great ideas of sociologists Bourdieu and Passeron.
- Then the second cause of school failure is the disease: dyslexia or hyperactivity for example.
- And finally, the third cause is the institution that does not adapt to children with disabilities. For a long time, the school made the child feel guilty if he did not work well at school, either because he was lazy or because parents were not present enough. But she never asked herself what she could do to reconcile the child with the school system.
2. How could the school adapt to the child?
Already, I think that we should avoid inadvertent repetition. There are children who redouble unnecessarily and who are psychologically defeated. They then let go, are demotivated. One would have to wonder why this child is failing, and especially to give him the means to catch up at school. For example, if a child has not done enough math work, there should be math classes in the evening at school so that he can catch up, and move on to the next class.
Statistics in Sweden have shown that a schoolchild who was redoubling had more difficulty than the child who was in the upper class. I think we should also involve parents a little more in the school, especially for the most disadvantaged groups. The problem is that parents sometimes resign and have some resistance in school.
3. Does repetition seem to be an appropriate solution?
Not necessarily. Unless the child is in very great difficulty, that he has been ill for most of the year. The narcissistic image of the child who redoubles is "I am a bad child, I am a bad student", he becomes discouraged and does nothing. Whereas if we encourage him, and we offer him the means to get there, he progresses.
4. As a teacher, what do you do when a child has difficulty assimilating what you are teaching him? What is your approach?
When a child does not understand, I wonder if my method of teaching is the right one, and if this method is really adapted to this child. Learning is something that is done to two. After I wonder, if there is a malfunction to detect: dyslexia, dysorthography. And if I do not know how to detect the causes of this failure I call on specialists.
I can invite parents to do a checkup at the speech therapist. There are many reasons for a child to pick up, it can be a problem of maturity. Psychological time does not necessarily correspond to school time.
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5. Do you think the school is able to find effective answers to the problem of school failure?
She has the ability but does not necessarily ask the right questions. It does not take into account the distress of the parents of children who are failing school, pedagogy adapted to the child, it makes decisions untimely without asking preliminary questions, without knowing who is wrong with the child.
I think that children should be left in their age group to avoid feeling stigmatized.
6. What do you think of the hours of support put in place?
The idea was good, but it's pretty disappointing, not enough. These are hours of support that are done at times when students are tired, either at the end of the day or between noon and 2 pm.
Teachers have not been trained in this, they are often content to continue the course that was done during the day, while there should be other methods more fun to teach the child. I also think that these hours of support have the effect of stigmatizing a little more these children, who have the impression of being punished with these extra 2 hours.
Good students who do well will have a lean school, while others will have 2 extra hours.
I think that we should introduce specialists in schools, speech therapists, psychologists, who are trained in the difficulty, and that it is these people who take charge of students during hours of support.
7. What advice would you give to parents who feel somewhat overwhelmed by their child's school failure?
There is no inevitability to school failure, there is always something to do. Parents must not give up, otherwise the child will tend to become discouraged. The first thing to do is to meet the teacher, to ask questions, to ask him what he thinks of the child's difficulties.
Then, do not hesitate to consult a specialist. Parents can first talk to their general practitioner or school doctor, then consult a specialist according to the child's difficulties.
It is essential to play down and try to solve the problems. You do not have to confront the child too much with his grades and his classification in the class. This attitude would be depressing for the child. We must not forget that the school is a place of life, no marginalization.
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