Changing schools

I’m just trying to work out what will now happen to the hypothetical French girl whose parents tattoo “Dubya is Love” on her forehead at birth. Will she be able to attend school normally, or will she have to wear the hijab? An interesting interim solution would be to let everyone wear what the hell they like, close schools that fail, and redistribute their denizens among other better establishments, but that’s not going to happen until the French change the way they are governed.
French education has been centralised and statist right back to Charlemagne, writes J David Markham, and Napoleon was simply providing an update when in 1807 he said that

Of all our institutions public education is the most important. Everything depends on it, the present and the future. It is essential that the morals and political ideas of the generation which is now growing up should no longer be dependent upon the news of the day or the circumstances of the moment. Above all we must secure unity: we must be able to cast a whole generation in the same mould.

There’s another scary quote from the Great Amputee in Alistair Horne’s Seven Ages of Paris:

Up to the present the only good education we have met with is that of the ecclesiastical bodies. I would rather see the children of the village in the hands of a man who knows only his catechism, but whose principles are known to me, than of some half-baked man of learning who has no foundation for his morality and no fixed ideas.

The most exuberant exposition of the correct solution to the problem is by Hans Magnus Enzensberger in the chapter in his Politische Brosamen (1982) entitled A Plea for the Home Tutor: A Little Bit of Education Policy. Enzensberger may have lost the plot slightly after 1989, but these recommendations are a classic antidote to poorly-read polemicists on the left and the right who would typecast him as a left-winger:

  1. Compulsory school attendance to be abolished
  2. All school property to be sold or re-used, with the exception of a few buildings to be retained for pupil-teacher conferences
  3. All bureaucrats to be fired.
  4. All teachers to be re-deployed as home tutors
  5. Unpopular teachers to be sacked.

If HME had been living in the Anglosphere then he might have started discussing vouchers at this point, but instead he devotes some space to worries re equality of access and how to stop the dentists keeping their kids together. Life was different then.

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