Alternative Schools: Is It Really Better?

Montessori, Steiner, Freinet, apprenticeship family ... More and more parents are choosing to educate their children differently. At issue: a republican school system that disappoints. At stake: the desire for an approach based on autonomy, the pleasure of learning, creativity, and also in line with the eco-citizen issues of the time. Renowned to be reserved for the privileged, these unusual pedagogies are they the future of the school?

Laurence Lemoine

"And on the instructions of the devil, we created the school, the child loves nature, we put it in closed rooms." The child likes to move: he was forced to stand He likes to manipulate objects: he was put in contact with ideas [...] He would like to reason: he was memorized, he would like to be enthusiastic: we invented punishments. " These words are from Adolphe Ferrière 1 , Swiss pedagogue and founder, in 1921, of the International League for New Education, whose congresses brought together Celestin Freinet, Maria Montessori , Roger Cousinet or Gisèle de Failly. They could be pronounced by all those, parents or teachers, who today make the choice of so-called "alternative" schools, pedagogies inspired by these good geniuses of education. More than academic success, they claim to target the overall development of the student: intellectual and manual, physical and emotional, artistic and citizen ... Originally designed for children from disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities, these methods currently, for the most part, are provided in private institutions. Families are ready to put the price on it, on the grounds, they told us, that "times are changing", that "we can not continue to format and crush children" or that "to change society you have to change your education. " What is happening in these out of the ordinary schools? Is it really better?

A bitter assessment, a need for renewal

Like many parents, if Roxana did for her children the choice of a different school, it is especially that "the primary of the district did not make us dream" . Harassment in school playgrounds, inappropriate school rhythms, anxiety-scoring system, drop in level, boredom ... The grievances against the standard school are not lacking. "Teachers, parents, children, everyone suffers! Verdiani 2 , Founder of the Spring of Education, lobbying for educational renewal When teachers are asked what they are going through, they describe an environment that is bristling with its methods, suspicious before novelty, they are overwhelmed by the program, by an evaluation system that creates pressure.And above all, they feel at odds with their values. "According to an Ifop survey of 2014 for the association SOS Education 3 , 54% of them have already experienced a burnout, 68% have already thought to change their profession, 51% advise against their child to do the same ...

Children's side, no better: a survey conducted in 2010 by the Student Foundation Association for the city (Afev) 4 , which fights against inequality in working-class neighborhoods, reveals that nearly three-quarters do not like going to school or college, nearly a quarter are bored, more than half have been In the most privileged circles, they are won over by the fear of not succeeding The number of 6-18 year olds who are cracking nervously is increasing, warns the psychotherapist Béatrice Millêtre 5 We are also starting to talk about burn-out about them.

Of course, many students and public institutions But even so, denounces Jean-Pierre Lepri 6 , a former teacher, fifty years in the National Education, "it is not a way of living to be, from the age of 6, sitting several hours a day at a place assigned to learn subjects for twelve or fifteen years. Do you realize what we give up growing up like this? To be oneself, simply "Anyway, parents concerned about their children's schooling are starting to change their strategy." Until then, they sought rather to put them in the private so that they are more "held". Today, they are turning more to alternative pedagogies, especially if they feel mistreated by the system, "says child psychiatrist Nicole Catheline, a specialist in suffering at school.

" When she entered the At the nursery school, we were looking for our daughter a place where we would not only welcome a pupil but a little person, where she would be respected for who she is, remembers Marie, 52 years old. And especially an establishment where one would not only learn with the head, where the sensory, the engine would also be solicited. "At the school Steiner Verrieres-le-Buisson (Essonne), his daughter Midori, 19 years old today he had the opportunity, from kindergarten to college, to learn about sewing, forging, wood, gardening, sculpture, theater, music ... Alternative schools are all different Some, like Steiner, put more emphasis on the arts, others, such as Freinet, on cooperation, and still others, like Living School, in Paris, or La Ferme des enfants, in Ardeche, on the Ecology and citizenship: their common points: "To base learning on the interests and questions of the child, to privilege active pedagogies (to do, to touch, to manipulate rather than to listen), to encourage multidisciplinarity, to accompany the explorations of the child, to induce its autonomy ", enumerates Marie-Laure Viaud, d Océnee in education sciences and specialist of alternative schools.The scholarly knowledge is not neglected, but the same importance is given to the know-how and the well-being.

1. In Montessori, Freinet, Steiner ... a different school for my child? by Marie-Laure Viaud (Nathan).

2. Antonella Verdiani, author of Those schools that make our children happy (Actes Sud).

3. "Opinion Survey of Secondary School Teachers", 2014.

4. "Annual Barometer of Report to the School of Children in Lower-Town Areas", 2010.

5. Beatrice Millêtre, author of Burn-Out of Children (Payot).

6. Jean-Pierre Lepri, author of The End of Education? (The present moment). His site: education-authentic. org


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