The star teacher of the Star Academy – whose finale is Sunday night – has been teaching for 35 years. His opinion on our education? “I am desperate.” He wants reform. He has a lot of ideas. And “it’s not against the idea” to get into politics.
Posted at 5:00
Alexandre Pratt Print
The scene takes place in the mid-1990s. Gregory Charles was a very busy man at the time. He runs a night program at Télé-Métropole daily and also runs a singing school. His schedule is as busy as the prime minister’s. Between two meetings, he manages to cram a conference at a high school in a disadvantaged area of Montreal.
It’s dark in the school hallways. Spaces, dilapidated. Mushrooms grow in the air ducts. The director is worried. According to inventory? Yes. But especially the boys who leave the classes by the dozens.
“It was like a scene from the movie Schindler’s List,” recalls Gregory Charles. When Oskar Schindler looks at his ring and thinks that it could have saved more people by selling it. »
It moves me because I know that good teachers approach teaching that way. They wondered how many young people they could put in a moving boat.
A few weeks later, Gregory Charles returns to class. But not as a speaker. As a history teacher with second-year students at a community center in the Saint-Henri district. Several mornings a week. No patent. His bet: to teach differently by offering his students a solution to the puzzles. Great success. No teenager has left his class in 10 years, he notes proudly. “Zero as absolute zero.” »
“And what has this experience brought you the most?
“Some kind of despair about education”
“I’m not against the idea of going into politics”
You know Gregory Charles, the host, well. musician. Singer. A one-member band that performed 43 times at the Bell Center and participated in the Celine Dion World Tour. His career is so dazzling that we have forgotten the constant in his career: teaching.
He started as a teenager as a church director. Then he was an observer in the science camps. Popularizer in Les Débrouillards. Teacher with apostates. Professor at Virtuos, Mélomaniaques and Star Académie – whose season ends this Sunday. He founded Gregory Academy, where he educated hundreds of pianists. In 2007, he even tried to open a new primary school in Laval. His plan: to teach only one subject. Story. “We buried a lot of money there,” he says.
The project was abandoned at the last minute. But Gregory Charles continued to be interested in education.
So much so that when we met at his office near Peel Basin, he talked to me about it for two and a half hours. No breaks. This was the only topic of conversation.
PHOTO by DAVID BOILY, PRESS
He talks about it with the stars in his eyes when he talks about the glasses for the blind that his second-year students put up. With admiration for the teachers to whom he has “the greatest respect”. But above all, with courage. And sometimes anger. He punches the table irritably several times during the conversation.
“There are elements that I do not understand in our way of doing things. Take the library method. Educational programming. It’s the opposite. No child I know thinks that way. Especially not the boys! They think randomly. Disorganized. Chaotic. But there is no healthy child who would say during a date: I was thinking about my business. We do it at 9 o’clock. We’ll do it at 9:30. And by the way, it is essential to get to 150 skipping ropes. We’ll see! Teaching is treated as if it were a business plan. »
Even Gregory Charles doesn’t understand our obsession with wanting to teach boys and girls in the same class. “Again, no one in their right mind will tell you that at age 16, boys and girls are equally mature. […] I only taught boys. Just girls. Both at the same time. This is also the case with Star Academy this season. Differences, I see them! »
It seems terrible to me that for generations girls have been forbidden to emancipate. To seek education. It’s awful, awful, awful. But I can’t believe that now that we realize this huge mistake, we turn around and say to ourselves: we’re going to do a tutorial […]we go guys thoroughly ch ** r, and they pick up.
He does not blame any particular political party. However, he criticizes elected officials, collectively, for insufficient investment in education. “That should be our top priority.” I understand that this is already a post [de dépenses] important for the government. But much of the money is invested in bricks. »
“When we decided to exclude religious communities from education,” he continues, “it was the right decision. After the Great Darkness and a kind of conservatism in the religious environment, I understand. Addition [les gouvernements] they miscalculated their case. Your buildings don’t cost you anything. Your teachers don’t cost you anything. In addition, they were available 20 hours a day Yes, they did bad business. It is true. But the buildings … The staff … I don’t think the math was completely clear. »
Gregory Charles expresses half a dozen complaints like these. This is not the first time he has criticized our education. He also did this during an interview for Téléjournal in 2003 and also for Francs-Tireurs in 2016. This time, his criticism should be constructive. It connects ideas inspired by three decades in the field.
- Integrate day camps into schools.
- Close school in January.
- Start teaching in August.
- Allow gifted students to exceed 100%.
- Challenging free education.
The more Gregory Charles speaks, the clearer it becomes to me that he wants to be part of the solution.
“Are you considering going into politics? »
He leans back in his chair and tilts his head slightly. This question was asked 20 years ago. He then replied: “We make the biggest difference as Minister of Education, but as a teacher. His speech has been evolving ever since.
“My reaction to that is always weird and ambiguous.” I am not against the idea of going into politics. I am not saying this because I have the ambition to go into politics. I have no ambition to go into politics. But I don’t mind the idea. If someone told me: you are absolutely the one who takes it, I would not resist for commercial or personal reasons. »
“We really need to confront ideas. And sure, I would be confronted with ideas. In addition, my thoughts are not based solely on reading, but on decades of teaching. Would I say no? [à la politique] in principle? No. I would say basically yes. The only file I’m interested in is this one. Not that I have no other ideas for other portfolios. I do not have. But what educates us about the environment, if not education? What leads us to more sensible decisions in economics, if not education? »
PHOTO by DAVID BOILY, PRESS
No need to restart it, it continues its flight.
“I find it interesting what I have accomplished in my life. Some disks. Shows. With TV. Teaching. Being able to intervene in life is worth …