Allowing ourselves to think

08 April 2015
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French FlagJean-Pierre Quayret in the name of l'ANEN

The wave of horror caused by what happened on the 7th, 8th and 9th of January [the assault on the editors of  Charlie Hebdo and the nearby supermarket] has caused a crisis in our conscience, a crisis which, now the shock is over, now the terrible grief is over, must give us the opportunity to ask radical questions about our lives together, and also our ways of educating our children.

Since fundamental principles (the right to self-expression, tolerance . . . ) have been violated, let us ask ourselves how we put them into practice in our daily lives:

Do we, as parents, teachers and educators, always have the courage to speak out? To support others who speak out . . . and also those who are not able to do so ? Do we live in a way that adequately shows our children the tolerance and benevolence necessary for education for peace ? Do we dare to be honest with them ?

For many years individuals and movements have been working to produce a different kind of school, a different kind of education (Freinet, Pédagogie institutionnelle, Education nouvelle, GFEN,CEMEA, etc.). Let us listen to them, read what they have to say, discuss with them such themes as :

  • co-operation rather than blind competition, for example children tutoring each other rather than receiving marks and assessments, so those who understand can can help those who do not understand
  • Respect for others in their differences, by the participation of students in the democratic functioning of the school, for instance with student councils, elected representatives, regular meetings, etc.
  • alternatives to violence for the settling of problems, for instance the mediating technique of la Pédagogie Institutionnelle, contracts, reparation rather than punishments
  • indiviual initiative rather than conditioning, for example the students' own creations in drama, dance, song, poetry, newspapers etc. and also children taking charge of their own various projects, research, outings both rural and urban, lessons in different places, writing stories to read to younger children, etc,
  • the development of critical thought and communal life: student councils, joint assessments, philosophy workshops, etc.
  • the development of the spirit of solidarity, correspondence between schools, buddy schemes, demands for dignity (ATD Quart Monde and others)
  • etcetera

Obviously the most important thing is this 'etcetera.' Let us investigate, invent, create, experiment, try out methods in our classrooms, in our schools in our families, so that we can allow ourselves to think.
The work is immense, but so is our energy and our will to live

Jean-Pierre Quayret in the name of l'ANEN

A.N.E.N. stands for  'Association Nationale pour le Développement de l'Education Nouvelle, registered office: école La Prairie 1bis rue des Néfliers 31400 Toulouse. It is one of the laboratories where people test other ways of running a classroom and making school a place where children love to be.

At present it includes five educational establishments (two in Paris, two in Lyon and one in Toulouse) and involves slightly over 1000 pupils aged between 2 and 16.

Bibliography :

  • Ces enfants empêchés de penser  by Serge Boimare
  • Une journée dans une classe coopérative by René Laffitte
  • Copie non conforme  by Marie de Vals et alii

 

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