Ecole Moderne

Posted on February 3, 2011

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Elise and Celestin Freinet were communist educators active in France from the 1920s. Under the name Ecole Moderne, they and hundreds of students and educators across Europe produced a network of schools, each of which collectively owned and operated its own printing press. Students and teachers responded to the issues of their world through the collaborative production of newspapers, using it as the basis for learning skills in literacy, political analysis and transforming the relationships of their school. These papers were initiated by the creation of ‘textes libres’ or ‘free texts’ and collective discussion and disseminated for further response by students, teachers and other community members. It was of central importance to this movement that the production of language and analysis be connected to the production of new techniques for living. Parallel to the production of the papers, student-teacher councils reflected on the conditions of the production. They regularly changed roles to ensure that hierarchies and rigid group formations did not set in. Of central importance to practitioners of the Ecole Moderne was to disrupt the ‘dichotomies between manual and intellectual activity, between thought and action, fostered by the school and society.’ Newspapers, as tangible objects and records of participant  observation of the world were linked through an ‘inter-school correspondence’ network who shared principles of learning from experience and for social, anti-capitalist change.

From Ferdnand Oury and Anna Vasquez, The Educational Techniques of Freinet in Prospects for Education issue 1, published by Unesco in 1969. Available in pdf  at http://www.unesco.org
Posted in: 1. Ed Minus One