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High school: the real false return of math in the common core in first

► Why did you reinforce the place of maths in first?

The high school reform, introduced in 2019, has so far given little choice: to pursue maths as one of the three specialties (four hours a week in first, then six hours for those who keep it in final year), or else give up this discipline at the end of the second.

The share of students studying math until the end of high school has therefore fallen. The architects of the reform may have argued that it was preferable to have fewer but more motivated high school students in this subject, but the system came up against growing criticism, especially during the presidential election.

Also, just re-elected, Emmanuel Macron announced at the beginning of June the launch, for this start of the new school year, of a new maths course, at the rate of an hour and a half per week for first-year pupils who do not have chose this discipline as a specialty.

Emmanuel Macron would have reintroduced math into the common core right now. But the time was too short. This measure will wait until September 2023, he hinted. For the time being, only volunteer students benefit from it. It is therefore a return to “optional” maths in the common core, in addition to the two hours of compulsory scientific teaching per week.

► Has this math “option” found takers?

It is early to have an exhaustive vision. The high school students targeted by this scheme have often only benefited from a few days of reflection, at the very end of the school year. In this month of September, some establishments are offering them a second chance..

This is the case of the François-Joseph-Talma high school, in Brunoy (Essonne). “This course has only 11 registered students out of the approximately 200 students who could follow it”, regrets Olivier Beaufrère, his headmaster, national secretary of the SNPDEN union. On Friday, September 2, this headteacher went around the classes to offer this option again. “I could see from their reaction that the students were not interested. In their minds, math is already a thing of the past. »

From one establishment to another, however, the contrast is strong. At La Providence, in Saint-Malo, the maths option met with real interest. “More than one in two pupils concerned chose this option”indicates its head of establishment, Vivien Joby, president of Snceel (1).

► What does this new teaching bring?

This option is evaluated in continuous control. The grades are not specifically taken into account but are included in the average for science education.

The aim is above all, says the ministry, “to acquire skills in the fields of the analysis of encrypted information, random phenomena and evolution phenomena (linear and exponential growth, variations)”.

But the program, assures Claire Piolti-Lamorthe, president of the Association of Mathematics Teachers in Public Education, obeys “two injunctions difficult to reconcile” : on the one hand, to be accessible to all; on the other hand, preparing students to follow, for those who wish, the complementary maths option in terminale.

Complementary maths (three hours per week) has so far been aimed mainly at high school students who have stopped the maths specialty at the end of the first year but who want to continue, at a lower dose, the study of this discipline to give themselves a better chance of join certain higher education courses (psychology, Staps, even economics or medicine).

“In terms of orientation, the first option only brings added value if you continue – with good grades – in complementary maths in terminale”considers Vivien Joby.

► Does having taken the maths option allow you to succeed in complementary maths?

One can wonder if pupils who have only followed an hour and a half of maths per week as an option can, in the final year, rise to the level of comrades who have benefited in “special” from four hours of weekly lessons. “In complementary maths, the teacher chooses six modules out of nine to adapt to the level and to the different wishes of the students to pursue their studies”tries to reassure Charles Torossian, dean of the general inspection of mathematics.

Some establishments, such as La Providence, in Saint-Malo, have chosen to offer two complementary math groups in the final year: one for those who have abandoned the maths “special” at the end of first year; another for those who haven’t followed it.


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