|The New Order school. The Ideological Battle about Education in Belgium during the Second World War|
|How did education become an issue during the Second World War? According to the occupier, what was the role of schools in the society he wanted to establish in the larger context of the education of the young? What were the values he wanted to instill in these young adults and, more to the point, how did this influence show in their courses and schooling?
To find an answer to these questions, we will examine the case of the secondary education of the State network in occupied Belgium and the impact of the preoccupations of the national socialist and new order movements on this network in the field of education of young people.
Indeed, during the occupation period, the traditional actors in the field of education in Belgium, the State and the Catholic Church, saw the arrival of the German military authorities and the New Order parties who established themselves as new players in education politics, wishing to impose their own agenda.
Contrary to the Catholic network (where, in spite of the German measures aimed at confining its expansion, the Church was able to hold on to the privileges of the freedom of education act as written in the Belgian constitution), new personnel, adepts of the new ideology, were positioned among the education personnel of the official network.
In the administration of the Education department, a progressive replacement of the executives was carried out. Notably, certain key positions, such as the Director of secondary education and the Director general of secondary and higher education came to members of the VNV, the Flemish nationalist and collaborationist party.
With the arrival of this new personnel, certain latent ideas about schooling and education policies, had now come to the foreground. The pedagogical debate was conducted publicly in meetings and in the press. In the schools and the administration, many disputes were opposing the new personnel to the old teachers and public servants.
In our presentation, we aim to shed light on this ideological conflict between the new order partisans on the one and the defenders of the liberal tradition in education on the other hand. To examine this question, we will present an overview of the changes in the didactical instruments and methods as well as in the education programme. We will equally look at the pedagogical magazines and the professional media where the objectives and the finalities of this ‘new education’ are expressed even more clearly.
To resume, our aim is not to present a political history stricto sensu of the power relations between the new and old order in the official secondary education, but, in the context of this occupied society, to call attention to the confrontation of several fundamentally different visions of young people, of the school and its objectives.