Until the last few decades, France had one of the most equitable education systems in the world. It also had one of the most coherent. It was world-famous for its determination to give the same education to all citizens, following the same curriculum in every school across the land. But from the sixties onwards, progressive ideas became more influential in the teacher training colleges. Although the curriculum remained the same at first, the methods used began to lead to greater gaps in achievement between different social classes. A more constructivist approach, with an emphasis on discovery learning and a move away from explicit instruction, meant that increasingly, those with the least cultural capital were not receiving the teacher input which would enable them to make good progress.
Ironically, the results of this first move towards progressive ideas was one of the pieces of evidence used by proponents of the 1989
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