Saturday, 22 August 2009

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

Putting (French) values into practice

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the real secret of success turns out to be surprisingly simple, it hinges on in people’s life stories and particularly the culture they belong to. At the heart of recent educational dialogue is a need to value individual learning journeys by personalizing teaching methods through more inclusive practice. It was particularly pertinent to me, as a French woman, to look at how values translate into practice in the context of French teaching. I lived in France until I was 12, and have always believed that my culture has had a huge influence on my own ideas. To write a paper on teaching French in an inclusive way was an ideal opportunity to explore these issues, and in a very real way exemplified the tension between personal and public thought and action.

Loosely based on the themes of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, I developed my ideas to explore the links between the purpose and belief that underpin French culture and inclusion. Firstly, I defined inclusive practice to provide a background to educational change from a French perspective. This also helped to strengthen an argument for developing teaching methods that do more to reflect the cultural ideas expressed through language. It also meant I could address ‘social change’ throughout the document, a key idea underpinning the deeper understanding in the evolution of inclusive practice. From the language development perspective, being able to share ideas with others needs an awareness of social context, it needs more that the skills associated with the acquisition of words. Therefore, each section, Citoyenneté, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, and Happiness are broad themes used to explore specific aspects of French culture that illustrate ideas behind a national search for equality and social change. Ending on happiness gave me a chance to look at social issues dealt with through addressing educational purpose: the need to continually re-evaluate practice in order to insure it delivers to learner’s contemporary requirements.