Defending Secondary Education to Save Latin: The Lost Wager of the Franco-Ancienne Teachers’ Association (1946-1978)

By Clémence Cardon-Quint

Specialist associations and teachers’ unions are usually studied separately, a fact that tends to lend credence to the assertion that these categories of groups have separate functions. The history of the Franco-Ancienne, an association of teachers of French and classical letters, from its reconstitution in 1946, until it became the “Association des Professeurs de Lettres” in 1978, reveals intricate and overlapping functions, reflecting the leading role of “multi-positional” stakeholders, as well as the strategy used to protect and promote classical studies. By claiming that humanities and traditional secondary education were inseparable, the Franco-Ancienne’s leaders effectively defended the teaching of Latin for a long time. However, after being one of the Franco-Ancienne’s strengths, this stance became a weakness after educational reforms and changes in the teaching corps meant that this traditional conception of secondary education was a minority viewpoint.

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