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The Old Regime Collèges, 1789-1795

Local Initiatives in Recasting French Secondary Education

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Susan F. Bailey

This book demonstrates that the condition of the provincial French collèges during the Revolution contrasted sharply with the expectations of legislators sitting in Paris. The latter consistently endeavored to create a system of secondary education, but they succeeded only in establishing (after 1795) an inadequate number of écoles centrales. Meanwhile a majority of the collèges - faced with problems of divided administrators, insufficient money, scarce teachers, and vanishing students - ceased to operate. Yet, some local authorities reorganized their schools and provided for them a progressive new curriculum. In general, centralizing tendencies doomed important local attempts at reorganization, perhaps to the detriment of the future of French secondary education.