The article discusses one stage in the development of the French noun 'sélection' in relation to the changing social system of values, the manifestation of which can be seen in the evolution of the French educational system. A borrowing from English, made popular in the context of Darwin's theory, the noun originally had positive connotations. Selection was seen as tantamount to biological and - as it originally referred to the educational system - social progress: it helped shape the future social elite by discriminating between the children pursuing and not pursuing their education in secondary schools. The implementation of subsequent changes in the educational system was targeted at democratizing the school and raising the age of compulsory education. The policy of selection was gradually being replaced with that of preorientation, i.e. of varying pupils' educational careers depending on their talents. The semantics of the word 'sélection' underwent changes, one of which was a complete loss of positive connotations.
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