Life Style

New baccalaureate, a very contrasting assessment for the humanities



Three years after its appearance, students and teachers have adopted the acronym. HLP, three letters for one of the thirteen specialty courses which, in the new high school architecture, complete the common core. HLP for humanities, literature and philosophy, a set on which some of the baccalaureate candidates are preparing to work between May 11 and 13 (read bottom of article).

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The opportunity to observe whether each of them has achieved the objectives assigned to this new “spé”, objectives that Pierre Mathiot, the father of the reform of the baccalaureate, summarizes in a few words: “to cultivate oneself, to learn to write and to reason”. For someone who is also the director of Sciences Po Lille, the term “humanities” returns “to the culture of the honest man, not necessarily to a fascination for Homer and Virgil, which has become quite rare among young people”.

Alliance of letters and philosophy

Lou, she chose this “special” out of curiosity for philosophy. “In second, I asked to attend a philosophy course, with a final year class. It was about the unconscious, about dreams. I immediately hooked”says the one who is now following a first year of a Japanese license at “Langues O’”, in Paris. “The challenge will have been above all to know how much philosophy to inject into literary homework and vice versa”she analyzes.

HLP combines, in fact, two fairly close disciplines, philosophy and literature. With a more or less close cooperation of the teachers concerned, as noted by Pierre Mathiot. “In some cases, the teachers have thought out their evaluations together or practice co-intervention. In others, they simply shared the weekly timetable, four hours in première, six in terminale. »

One in two students drop out in the final year

“The program, which focuses on speech, representations of the world, human limits and the self, is really interesting”, greets Jean-Rémi Girard, president of the National Union of High Schools and Colleges (Snalc). But, according to him, the expected effects are not there. “Under the old system, good literary profiles often went into scientific, or possibly economic and social, courses, deemed better than the L series, which represented just over 15% of general baccalaureate holders”recalls this French teacher, who himself teaches HLP. “But today, this specialty, followed by 20% of first year students, is abandoned in one out of two cases for the final year. (1). With the argument, often put forward, that of not having to study philosophy seven hours a week (2). » Result: in his high school at the Versailles Academy, out of a thousand students, only 12 follow HLP in the final year, where there were previously two L series classes…

“The HLP specialty has found its place”nevertheless assures Édouard Geffray, the director general of school education. “Of the fifteen most requested doublets in senior year, three combine this spec with another. We must also not lose sight of the fact that the humanities are at the heart of other specialties such as “history-geo, geopolitics and political science”, “languages, literature and foreign and regional cultures” or even “arts”.he insists.

A precise choice of orientation

In any case, a recent report from the general inspectorate shows that high school students who have followed HLP are very largely heading towards training related to this specialty, licenses in letters or languages, or even literary preparation. Possible sign that they had a precise orientation project at the time of the choice of this “spec”.

“Until the reform, my Parisian high school received 25% of scientific baccalaureate holders in its literary preparationtestifies Damien Framery, president of the Association of teachers of first and higher letters. Today, we welcome almost only candidates who have followed literary specialties. »

But mentalities sometimes evolve slowly, deplores Pierre Mathiot. “Some teachers, including in some very popular literary preparatory courses, have in mind a form of tacit hierarchy between specialties: maths, physics, history-geo, geopolitics and political science would thus be better perceived and more valued than languages, SVT or HLP, chosen more by children from modest backgrounds…”

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The specialties of the bac finally evaluated in final control

During the two previous sessions, the specialty lessons had been validated on the basis of continuous assessment. This year, still due to the pandemic, the exams, initially scheduled for mid-March to be taken into account in Parcoursup, finally take place between May 11 and 13.

Each candidate works on both specialties kept in terminal.

Last year, the most chosen “spé” were maths (37%), economics and social sciences (35%) and physics-chemistry (31%). HLP (humanities, literature and philosophy) came in 7th position (10%).

Terminal finals continue with philosophy, June 15, and the great oral, between June 20 and July 1.

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