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Does the grand oral of the bac reinforce inequalities?

One of the three tests maintained in face-to-face despite the Covid-19, with philosophy and French, the grand oral will enter the baccalaureate in 2021, from June 21 to July 2. And like any new method of assessment, the exam does not escape, even before the first session, fears of making it the bed of inequalities between students.

→ READ. Bac 2021: with the grand oral, the French school wants to catch up

On the “big O ‘” program: 20 minutes of preparation followed by the development of one of the two questions chosen in advance, an exchange with the jury then the presentation of a professional project. “This test was not designed to reduce inequalities but to develop skills deemed essential in students, distinguishes the sociologist of education Marie Duru-Bellat. Nothing is known about its tendency to reduce inequalities or not. As at Sciences Po, will lower-class students do better than in writing, because they are less complex when speaking? This is an empirical question: we cannot know until the tests are held. “

Language differences from 2 years old

From “Essential skills” appreciated by the grand oral, National Education quotes the “Mastery of a personal, structured and argued word” or capacity “To dialogue and debate”. The topics of discussion being known to the student, his ease in speaking in front of a small audience will therefore determine a good part of his mark. And could offer a less rigid assessment framework than tabletop events.

“Spelling and grammatical correction are extremely discriminatory in terms of social class, recalls Isabelle Collet, professor of education at the University of Geneva. Speaking allows you to overcome these rules and to promote other skills, such as ability in public. Be careful not to be angelic either: a child of the CSPstudents who read a lot will have more vocabulary. “ A study, published by INED in 2018, finds disparities in language development from 2 years old, depending in particular on the socio-economic background of parents.

“Girls suffer from a lack of legitimacy”

Inequalities would not only hold family capital. During several investigations, Isabelle Collet has documented differences in oral language according to gender.“Girls generally do less well in spontaneous group speaking, where ‘chatting’ is more of a socialization activity for boys., she notes. They suffer from a lack of legitimacy, with the desire to do well in areas that they master. “

→ PRACTICAL. Bac 2021: six tips to prepare for the grand oral

Before the first assessments of the great oral, Isabelle Collet draws the typical portrait of the “Disadvantaged population” : “Girls from the working classes. They do not necessarily have the extensive vocabulary of senior CSPs, nor the habit of speaking in public. A possible colloquial language will also have a more negative connotation in girls than in boys. He will be funny, she will be vulgar. “

“It’s the crash-test year”

For this first year, could the Covid-19 widen the inequalities a little more in the face of the grand oral, an ordeal that teachers discovered with their students? “We are going through a catastrophic year, but this period also allowed new experiences, positive the sociologist Marie Duru-Bellat. Students have come together in a network to prepare for this test and practice speaking. “

REPORTAGE. Bac 2021: high school girls prepare for the grand oral with specialists in eloquence

Isabelle Collet is no more convinced by the “Covid effect”: “ Epidemic or not, this is the crash test year! On this test, we are less demanding a background of considerable general culture than an ability to express oneself. So not sure that the preparation at home, place of construction of discrimination, is so decisive. “


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