Special Education in Bordeaux, France
I met Mrs. Françoise Mevel, the head of St. Joseph school located in the center of Bordeaux in France. St Joseph School has 67 children, primarily girls, from 6 to 17 years. Educators, social workers, head, administrator, speech therapist and psychologists work together in this school which is part of the Medico Pedagogical Institution (IMP) that provides services for children who suffer from mental disorders.
Ms. Françoise Mevel, 52, has been the school head for 10 years. Her background includes a study of philosophy, teaching in elementary schools and later becoming a trained educational psychologist, working with very small groups of children who had learning difficulties. She began to work with her husband, a psychiatrist who works with families with very young children later working with psychoanalyst René Kaës, in Lyon for 4 years.
The following is an interview between Myriam Pichon (MP) and Francoise Mevel (FM).
MP: What do you think about our French educational system? Do you think we could improve it?
FM: Yes. I think our elementary system is good, but I think the propositions we offer for the handicapped children are too complex and heads are not well trained. I think the head enables the team to be the best. Another point is it would be efficient to have two more teachers in a team working in a specialized school to help children who need more attention, and extra time to progress.
MP: What do you think about the last violent events in our inner suburbs?
FM: I think today we are in a political system which chooses to use repression and abandon the educational system. Our problem has existed for many years. The immigrants were useful to build back France after WWII, but we did not have the ability to fit them in our society. So now their children are in a very difficult situation in a society that increases the failures that teenagers cannot manage psychologically. Then the French school is not adapted enough to the problems of different cultures. We feel that teenagers’ violence is against schools because they burnt many schools. Teenagers hold resentment against a school that does not help them to fit into our society. There is also family responsibility.
MP: About the teachers training, which are the points we could improve?
FM: Teacher training makes engineers of knowledge. The contents are very numerous; they study languages, history, geography, sciences. Maybe that profession that works with human beings needs to think of group management; teachers need to think about their way of teaching. Very often new teachers repeat what their teachers did, they repeat the system they knew when they were students. They need to learn how to meet families.
To conclude we can say today France really needs to do something concrete to give to our children a future. They need to feel we support them. That is not the case at the present time. The very sad events which happened a few months ago, prove to us the feeling of uneasiness of our young people.#