Boris Dolivet, a comic book artist, received a letter a few weeks ago to inform him of the upcoming visit scheduled by his daughter's public school in Montreal. The girl, 10 years old, and her companions would not go to a museum or a natural reserve, but to an Apple store. The complaints of this father of family have opened a debate in Quebec on this type of excursions of primary and secondary students.
Dolivet finds it difficult to think about the educational purposes of these visits; rather, it considers them an unfair advertising, according to the newspaper Le Journal de Montréal on the 20th. In fact, her daughter asked her to buy her an iPhone when she returned home at the end of the visit. The cartoonist also shows his disagreement with the way in which parents find out about these activities. "It is not a mandatory visit, but you receive a letter to authorize the exit when the children are already informed of the plan," explains Dolivet to EL PAÍS. The cartoonist gave his approval. "It's very hard to deny you, for students, it's like going to a Disney park, which seems like a very pernicious strategy," he adds. Another daughter of Dolivet had participated in the same activity months ago, but after the second letter she received from school, she lost patience.
The controversy surrounding these school trips, after the complaints of Dolivet, has found echo in different media in Quebec and has led to numerous reactions in social networks. Several parents defend the benefits of this activity for their children. However, others disapprove of teachers encouraging dynamics that can help promote Apple products.
On its website dedicated to these visits, the Californian company addresses teachers, and recommends them to invite students and colleagues to their stores to "live an unforgettable educational experience." "In this practical session, your group can unleash their imagination using Apple products," he says. Also, the page indicates that visitors can start in computer programming thanks to an application developed by the company.
These visits are not offered only in Canada. Teachers and students from the United States, Spain, Mexico and Brazil, among other countries, can make an appointment at an Apple store. France was part of this list, but the Ministry of Education banned such departures in May 2018, under the argument that the teachers violated the principle of neutrality of public service. Under the French precedent, political figures ask Quebec to do the same (in Canada, the educational sphere is provincial competence). Deputies of the opposition have indicated, among other points, that the teaching of technological contents must be carried out by independent experts, that a store is not the best place for educational outings and that schools should train citizens and not consumers .
Jean-François Roberge, Québec Education Minister, acknowledged his concern about the issue, but said it is necessary to know carefully if it is a pedagogical activity or a way to attract young people to Apple stores. The minister also expressed his opinion on Twitter: "While we have to give teachers the autonomy to choose activities for children, I have a clear preference for Apple professionals to visit schools and not vice versa." The Ministry of Education does not know the number of teaching centers that participate in these visits. "It is not the responsibility of the Ministry to approve these departures, since the Education Law establishes that the staff are free to choose activities after an internal approval process," says a Ministry worker.
A representative of Apple Canada declined to express the official position of the company. However, he invited to consult a section on the website of the company dedicated to education. "For 40 years, Apple has collaborated with teachers and schools fostering the creative potential of students, and today we do it in more ways: with incredible products, but also with tools, ideas and programs so that each class and each lesson can be converted in the most exciting of the games, "reads.
On the other hand, Charles Tanguay, spokesman for the Office for Consumer Protection of Quebec, says that, so far, your institution has not received any complaint about these educational outings. "This issue is of concern to the Office because of the provisions that prohibit commercial advertising for children under the age of 13. The Office intends to review this situation and will take, if appropriate and at the appropriate time, the appropriate actions," says Tanguay. .
Boris Dolivet says he just wanted to show his discontent in Le Journal de Montréal. "I'm not the leader of an insurrection movement," he says. "It's not about prohibiting children from acquiring technological knowledge, the point is that, for me, this should not be in charge of a brand, it does not matter if it's in store visits or if Apple goes to schools," he adds. Finally, what happened to the iPhone your daughter asked for? Dolivet responds: "Unfortunately, he had it as a gift, although it was second-hand, I was against it, but it is very hard to fight against family pressure, but I limit the time spent in front of my cell phone."