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Should you take the maths option first?

Choose or not math as an option? This is the question for second-year students, a few days before the end of classes. Since the abolition of the sectors in 2019, high school students had no other choice, to continue studying maths in first year, than to choose this discipline among their three specialties, in addition to a common core. Result: a third of the pupils completely abandoned this subject at the end of the second.

In accordance with a campaign promise, Emmanuel Macron has reviewed his copy. Thus, at the start of the school year, maths will always be outside the common core, but those who have not chosen them as a specialty (four hours a week, with a level similar to that of the old S series) will be able to learn mathematics. , an hour and a half per week, optional.

Above all, those who have opted for this new teaching will be able, in the final year, to benefit from the “additional maths” option (three hours per week), reserved until now for students who have abandoned the “special” maths at the end of first.

In short, this option will allow them to keep the door open to maths until the end of the year. However, we do not yet know the outlines: a presentation is scheduled for June 20 before the Higher Council of Education before a promulgation – very late – by the Minister.

“Pretend there is no math option”

What put the heads of establishment in the embarrassment: “In video, yesterday, I flatly advised the parents of second-year students to act as if there was no maths option”admits Bruno Bobkiewicz, general secretary of the SNPDEN trade union. “In any case, I dissuaded those who had already chosen maths as a specialty to reconsider their choice to follow this discipline in its version light, optional. A fortiori if maths occupies a place of choice in the higher education courses of which their children think, continues this principal, stationed in Vincennes.

Clearly, we will not be able to settle for a maths option in the first year and additional maths in the final year if we want to join an engineering school or a scientific course. But what will be the attitude of those in charge of training (sociology, psychology, economics, etc.) in which maths is frequently used, without however requiring a stratospheric level?

“Keeping a little math until the end of high school will be beneficial because our training includes a part of statistics and risk assessment”, reacts Jacques Arènes, director of the School of practicing psychologists, in Paris. An evolution that is all the more positive as he often encounters among candidates “a kind of aversion, even a phobia, towards mathematics”. Nevertheless, having followed this path “will not determine entry” in his establishment. “Much more decisive in our eyes remains the ability to express oneself in writing”he says.

Towards an integration of maths in the common core?

The situation is different at Iéseg, one of the main post-baccalaureate business schools, located in Lille and Paris. “Before the high school reform, our students came almost equally from the S and ES streams”says Céline Verdrière, head of the recruitment and competition department. “Today, 60% of our candidates have taken the complementary maths option in the final year and not the maths specialty. »

The math test in the competition (coefficient 8 out of 17) has been adapted to this new situation. A refresher course is also planned at the start of the first year. This has allowed some students who stopped math in the second to integrate the school. “But at the cost of enormous personal work or private lessons”insists Céline Verdrière.

“I carefully study each file, paying particular attention to the level of candidates in maths”, says Catherine Dedourge, educational manager of the management license at the Catho de Lille. Last year, his training, too, had accepted a few candidates who had stopped math in second. “But getting them back into a habit of mathematical reasoning takes a lot of energy.she breathes. This year, we are being more selective. » Way of saying that it is good to continue, one way or another, maths until the end of high school.

“The choice could no longer be posed next year”, predicts Pierre Mathiot, director of Sciences Po Lille and father of the high school reform. The first year maths option, the creation of which was announced in extremis at the beginning of June, constitutes in his view a measure “transient”. Before a possible integration of maths in the common core of first and final at the start of the 2023 school year.


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