Gil Bartholins: ‘Dear teachers, we have the weekend to breathe and blow matches’

During these back-to-school seasons, historian and author Gil Bartholins picks up his pen and writes to teachers and one teacher in particular.

Dear Teachers, Dear School and University Professors,

The start of the school year doesn’t fail to excite us, it’s true, but also frustrates us. It is not known whether the required 400 posts for Maths, English or History teachers have been filled. Occupations are very scarce with market gardeners, carpenters, and academics. there”Industrial crisis“The said will be resolved by re-evaluation, we promise”The most beautiful job in the world“. Well, it’s not a sure thing. Bad wage index in the face of inflation. Chronic staff workload. Ever-increasing classes. And this new assessment system? Do we have to reach results to avoid punishment? Are you held accountable for academic failure? However, for academic genius and happy success. We know there is no mechanical connection.”Oh, and that teacher gives points!“, we’re going to hear it.

In the university, courses that are considered useless disappear, with very few students here or there. Everything should be profitable. It’s global: Japan, the US, Switzerland are eliminating dozens of humanities and social science faculties. We must abandon Aristotle and Montaigne and make employment the goal. Society has needs! But which society are we talking about? Requirements should be met as soon as possible. However, the Bologna Reform increased the number of years of study from 4 to 5, and to the dismay of the Marcourt Order, some took 7 years to complete. All this, as you know, on a fixed budget. Students are forced to work: more than 70 percent of them now. Fewer benefits are lost to university youth. One in ten people have already thought about ending their life.

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So, dear teachers, you are equals. Now I remember my high school history teacher. He bought books and books, entire collections, facsimiles of codices, everything he needed, everything his students needed. He began a thesis on racism in Hollywood Westerns, and he gave us investigations: the Salem witch trials (did the company fabricate its targets?), the Battle of Little Bighorn (the Sioux finally won), incredible myths of Amazonian societies. (No, we don’t have a monopoly on culture). Students went to his house, many of them. They read and wrote, immersed in the wonder and wonder of learning about the limitless world. An infinite library that no school can provide. No doubt due to absence. But he bought, we learned, he got into debt, we armed with intelligence, he ruined himself, we ignored him. The loan company was harassing him. Bailiffs came to take everything away. “They don’t get my skin, these pickles. They will have nothing“. So he surrendered everything to the Free University of Brussels and committed suicide. With the instrument of his interest in the Aztec culture and the Inca world – a replica of a dagger brought back from a trip. At home, kneeling on its carpet, on his stomach.

Dear teachers, this professor has proved today’s egalitarians right: why pay you better, it’s a passion, a belief, isn’t that the best salary? This professor, with little regard for his work, forsakes retirement; But in the not-so-distant past, there was something at the end of kindness and tolerance. Whereas, dear teachers, you – and I am a teacher, hour after hour – have almost no rest.

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before he comes back”8 am on Monday.“, breathe, blow matches, the weekend is here.

Gil Bartholins

I dedicate this letter to Claude-René De Winter.

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