Last week, at the completion of their high school studies, 750,000 students in France took the baccalauréat exam in philosophy, or “bac philo,” as it is called. Meanwhile, worries about reforms to the baccalauréat system have some teachers threatening to strike.
The Times describes the exam:
In an ordeal that has changed little since Napoleon Bonaparte introduced the baccalaureate in 1808, the students wrestled with choosing a single question from a limited selection. These included “Is desire the mark of our imperfection?” and “Can experience be misleading?”. They had the alternative of critiquing texts from Schopenhauer, Mill or Montesquieu.
It is a four hour exam in which, according to philosophy teacher Marie Perret, quoted at France 24, “students aren’t just asked to display their knowledge but to think about a problem themselves by using the notions they studied during the year.”
The set of exams comprising the baccalauréat is due for on overhaul for 2021, with a reduction in exam subjects. The Times reports that philosophy will still be required, however, the amount of time dedicated to philosophy lessons in high school will be cut in half, from eight hours per week to four.
Arguing that “Four hours a week is far too little to learn the skills demanded of la philosophie… More than 120 teachers signed a protest letter to Jean-Michel Blanquer, the education minister, last month and hardline defenders of philosophy are talking of strike action.”
Further details here.
- “Why British Pupils Should Study Philosophy” in The Guardian
- “The Growth of Pre-College Philosophy in Ireland“