By Célestin Freinet in 1964
…It’s a new age of scholastic values that we would like to dedicate ourselves to establishing, without other bias that our concerns seek the truth from the enlightenment of experience and good sense. It is on the base of these principles that we make our unvariables, indisputable and sure, that we would like to accomplish a sort of pedagogical code…
Invariable #1 Children have the same nature as us
Invariable #2 Being greater doesn’t necessarily mean being above others.
Unvariable #3 The scholastic behavior of a child is crucial to his physiological, organic and constitutional states.
Invariable #4 Children, no more than adults like being commanded by authority.
Invariable #5 No one likes to align themselves for to do so is to passively obey an exterior order.
Invariable #6 No one likes to be constrained to do a certain task even If the task itself isn’t particularly unpleasant. It is the constraint that is paralyzing.
Invariable #7 Everyone likes to choose their work even if this choice isn’t advantageous.
Invariable #8 No one likes to run on empty. Acting like a robot, that is to say, acting on or bending to beliefs that are inscribed in the mechanisms of which one does not take part.
Invariable #9 We must motivate work.
Invariable #10 No more scholasticism
Invariable #10a Every individual wants to succeed. Failure creates inhibition, destructor of ambition and enthusiasm.
Invariable #10b It is not play that is natural to children but work.
Invariable #11 The natural path of acquisition is never observation, explanation and demonstration, the basic processes of schools, but trial and error experiments, the universally natural step.
Invariable #12 Memory, which school places so much importance on, is important only as it is truly useful in life.
Invariable #13 Acquisition is not gained as one would sometimes think, by study, rules and laws, but by experience. Studying first rules and laws in French, Art, Mathematics and Science is to put the cart before the horse.
Invariable #14 Intelligence isn’t, like scholastic teaching, a mental faculty specifically functioning as a closed circuit, independent of other, vital elements of the individual.
Invariable #15 School does not cultivate abstract intelligence that acts outside of living realities by an influx of words and ideas fixed by memory.
Invariable #16 Children do not like to listen to a lesson ex cathedra.
Invariable #17 The child will not tire of work which is relevant to his life, which is functional to him.
Invariable #18 No one, child or adult, likes control and sanctions. They are always considered an attack on his dignity above all when done in public.
Invariable #19 Grades and ranking are always erroneous.
Invariable #20 Speak as little as possible
Invariable #21 Children don’t like group work during which the individual should fold like a robot. He likes individual work or teamwork where he is part of a cooperative community.
Invariable #22 Order and discipline are necessary in class.
Invariable #23 Punishments are always erroneous. They are humiliating for everyone and never accomplish that which they set out to do. They are only a last resort.
Invariable #24 The new school life presumes scholarly cooperation. That is to say, managed by all its users, including the educator, in life and scholarly work.
Invariable #25 Overcrowded classes are always a pedagogical error.
Invariable #26 The actual conception of great scholastic bodies succeeds only at the anonymity of its administration and students. It is, because of this, a mistake and an obstruction.
Invariable #27 We bring democracy tomorrow by bringing democracy to school. An authoritarian regime at school will not create democratic citizens.
Invariable #28 We can only educate with dignity. Respect the children. This before asking them to respect their administrators is one of the first conditions of renovating schools.
Invariable #29 Opposing pedagogical reaction, an element of social and political reaction is also a variable which we will have to count in without being able to correct or avoid it ourselves.
Invariable #30 There is also a variable which justifies all our trial and error methods and authorizes our actions… The optimist’s hope in life.
Translation by Kristen BINI