We, the presidents

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutors: Camila ARÉas, Damien Larrouqué, LAURENT TRIBOULET, AURÉLIE VITTOT/ political scientists

Project manager: Stéphane Coulaud

 

Objectives:
For French citizens old enough to vote, 2017 gave them the chance to take part in another presidential election. The students use this opportunity to conduct a survey into the issues at stake and presidential powers, to learn about the candidates and above all, analyse their programmes. This project included exploring the media to gather information and observe the various ways the event was covered. 

Workshops:
The project begins with an explanatory reading of the 1958 Constitution. This involves studying a founding text that, despite the major amendments made to it over the years, has determined France’s political and institutional life for almost six decades. The students then examine the new organisation to designate presidential candidates in the form of primary elections. The contributor explains the ideological agreements and disagreements that differentiate French political parties, looking at the entire range of parties from the left to right. This stage triggered initial discussions formulated by the students about the contents and ideas put forward by candidates.
The students were then able to get to grips with the programmes. To flesh out their knowledge, the contributor prepared sessions by bringing into the classroom daily, weekly and monthly newspapers (Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, Courrier international, New Yorker, etc.) and online articles such as Mediapart, Slate, Huffington Post, etc. This analytical reading of the French and foreign press was also used as an education into the media, with one of its objectives being to offer a better understanding of the political orientations of media groups.
Once the candidates’ profiles had been outlined, the fact that there were a fairly large number of them meant it was necessary to make an arbitrary and argued selection (due to the number of hours and for efficiency’s sake) of the programmes to be studied.  The programmes of five candidates (François FIllon, Benoît Hamon, Marine Le Pen, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon) were chosen to be studied in more detail.
The contributor picked out five themes: education, the environment, health, employment and security. The various propositions were read, analysed and put into perspective by the students. As well as prompting debates between students in the same class, one of the project’s aims was also to encourage the students to hold debates with all the other students at school and explain the different candidates’ positions on the chosen topics.

Outcome:
The elections were reproduced to mirror the electoral calendar. In their respective schools, the students gave oral presentations of the candidates’ programmes the week before the 1st round, then of the programmes of the two finalists during the fortnight before the 2nd round, and eventually they presented the winner’s programme.
A display was set up presenting the faces of the 5 candidates, and under the portraits were descriptions of their propositions for the chosen topics - education, the environment, health, employment and security. For each topic, a few key proposals were selected and the students debated the programmes with their fellow pupils.   

Acknowledgements:
Margarete Sturm-Foucault, Project Manager, Sciences Po Paris, Mr Michel Pajon, MP, Seine-Saint-Denis, Mrs Marie-Georges Buffet, MP, Seine-Saint-Denis

 

Outings (selection):
- Trip to the Institute of Political Studies, Sciences Po, Paris
- Trips to the National Assembly and the Senate 

Participating schools: 
- class 3e, collège FRANÇOIS MITTERRAND, NOISY-LE-GRAND
- class 4e SEGPA, COLLÈGE CLOS-SAINT-VINCENT, NOISY-LE-GRAND
- class 6E, COLLÈGE JOLIOT CURIE, STAINS
- class 3e, COLLÈGE FRANÇOISE DOLTO, VILLEPINTE

 

Scenography: ELODIE DESCOUBES

Photos:  STÉPHANE COULAUD; PIERRE ANTOINE

We, the presidents
We, the presidents