Montaigne’s PowerPoints – Jeune Afrique

What if one of the main exponents of humanistic thought attended an international meeting on education in Africa today?

A few days ago I attended a symposium on education and teaching at an elite African university. Experts and practitioners followed one another to make speeches that were perfectly reasonable but sometimes seemed to err on the side of technical jargon.

“Benchmark”, “Data Onboarding”…

I’m far from an expert in this field, but it seems to me that you shouldn’t start your speech with “benchmark”, “data onboarding”, “KPI indicator”, “quick win” or “CSP”. need to deal with it makes sense.

We do not find any of these terms in the tries from Montaigne. The great humanist was turned away at the entrance to the symposium – “Don’t have your personal branded QR code? – and thus missed the best conference of the day. It would have been enough for Montaigne to read chapter 26 of the tries, entitled “On the Education of Children”. Here’s the PowerPoint presentation he wasn’t allowed to do. He gave it to us when he found out it was for JA.

PP1 “Knowing by heart does not mean knowing. When I consider that most of our universities still cram and some stupidly repeat phrases that they don’t understand because that’s the only way to get a good grade…

Did what I learned in school help me live a full, balanced, and satisfying life?

PP2 “Only fools are sure and determined. We must replace dogma with doubt, moving forward only by agreeing in advance that we may be wrong and that we accept scrutiny from others.

PP3 “Life evaluates teaching. In other words, has what I learned in school helped me lead a rich, balanced, and fulfilling life?

PP4 “The world is the actual book. » The student must actually or virtually travel. He must be roused from the sleepy comforts of his village, his canton, his country. When will there be an Erasmus program for African countries?

PP5 “Neither coercion nor violence in bringing up children. And Montaigne quotes himself: “I don’t want us to give up [les enfants] to the melancholy character of a mad schoolmaster. »

Phil playful

PP6 “Philosophy from an early age. Here’s what will terrify more than one: Montaigne says you have to start teaching kids as soon as they’re old enough to have a discussion. My little niece (five years old) recently asked her parents, “Why are we alive? In other words, little Lina had discovered for herself the most fundamental question in philosophy, the Leibniz question: Why is there something and not nothing?

For Montaigne it is not sober material that bores the reader with repulsive terms like “ontology” or “hermeneutics”. For him she is cheerful, lively, almost boisterous.

Ask a child, as I recently did, if a cat can lie

Elsewhere, Montaigne defends his famous thesis that “to philosophize is to learn to die”; but for kids, he seems to say it’s more like “learning to live”…and having fun doing it. Ask a child, as I recently did, if a cat can lie. And you will see after the first fits of laughter how this can lead to an exciting reflection on articulation language, instinct and consciousness etc.

On the question of authority, Montaigne criticizes those who put masters and students on the same level (which causes confusion), but at the same time urges the master “not to be one of those whose authority harms those who want to learn.

In short, what are we waiting for to translate Chapter 26 into all our African languages ​​and make it our educational charter?

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