Some important dates of Célestin Freinet's itinerary and the Movement he initiated...
(Automatic translation with DeepL Traducteur)
1918: After the First World War, many pacifist teachers were marked in their flesh and conscience. Revolutionary trade unionists grouped together in the Federation of Members of Education, they fight to ensure that the massacre of 14-18 does not happen again, to put an end to capitalist exploitation and to build a more just and humane society. Within the pedagogical commission and in their review "The Emancipated School" they reflect on ways to promote a popular pedagogy through "The Active School" and "Interests"...
Their eyes turn to the great elders (Rabelais, Rousseau, Pestalozzi...), to the experiences of before 1914 such as those of Paul Robin at the public orphanage of Cempuis in the Oise (Integral Education), of Francisco Ferrer and his "Escuela Moderna" in Spain (Rationalist Education), and of Sébastien Faure at "La Ruche" near Rambouillet (Libertaire Education). Also towards the experiences of the New School of Faria de Vasconcellos near Brussels and Kirchstensteiner in Germany. They are also closely interested in the experiences of the 1920s in Switzerland (A. Ferrière), Belgium (O. Decroly), Italy (M. Montessori), the USA (J. Dewey, Dalton plan), Germany ... and of course the proletarian pedagogues of the USSR Young Labour School (Pistrak, Blonskij, Kroupskaïa ...).
- Célestin FREINET was born on 15 October 1896 into a modest family in Gars in the Alpes-Maritimes. He entered the École Normale d'Instituteurs de Nice in 1912, leaving it to be mobilized in 1915. As a young officer, he suffered serious gunshot wounds to his lung in October 1917 at Chemin des Dames.
1920: After a long convalescence, he was appointed to the Bar-sur-Loup in January 1920 where he remained for 8 years. Passionate about his profession and eager to change the school, Freinet took advantage of his holidays and met other pedagogues (Hamburg in 1922, Montreux in 1923, USSR in 1925). He collaborates in avant-garde journals ("Clarity", "The Emancipated School"), is a union and political activist and participates in many cooperative works ("Baroque Bee").
1924: He introduced a printing company to his modest rural class and reported on his experiences in various magazines.
1926: He began regular inter-school correspondence with René Daniel and his class in St-Philibert-en-Trégunc in Finistère, then launched a "Coopérative d'Entr'aide pédagogique" with a magazine "l'Imprimerie à l'École", setting up a network of "Livres de Vie" composed and printed by the schools working in the printing industry. He married Élise Lagier-Bruno, teacher and artist (Gustave Doré Prize for Engraving in 1927).
1927: In August, at the end of the Trade Union Congress of the Federation of Education (CGTU) in Tours, the first International Congress of Printing was held at the School with the presence of the majority of the first 40 active members, including a delegate from the Spanish Ministry of Public Instruction. In October, under the impetus of Rémy Boyau and teachers from Gironde, the "Cinémathèque Coopérative de l'Enseignement laïc" company was founded, which provides loans and sales of films, projectors and cameras and plans to produce educational films.
1928: At the second congress in Paris, the activities of printing and radio merged with those of cinema within the Société "Coopérative de l'Enseignement Laïc" (C.E.L.) whose journal is "l'Imprimerie à l'École". From the "unity of teaching" to the "natural methods of learning", the members of the CEL deepen their knowledge of new techniques and methods, and in the interest of pedagogical materialism will publish the "Enfantines", the "Fichiers Scolaires Coopératifs".
Célestin and Élise Freinet were appointed in Saint-Paul (de Vence) at the beginning of the school year.
1932: In February 1932, Freinet created a documentary brochure for children: the "Bibliothèque de Travail" (B.T.). In October 1932, the magazine "l'Imprimerie à l'École" became "l'Éducateur Prolétarien". CEL produces a short film "Prix et profits" directed by Yves Allégret with the Prévert brothers as actors...
1932-1934: In the midst of the rise of fascism and Nazism in Europe, the Printing at School Movement and its leader Freinet were the target of violent attacks by the far right. Charles Maurras launched a vast campaign against Freinet in the "Action Française". At 37 years old, Freinet leaves the National Education Department!
1935: Célestin and Élise Freinet open a "proletarian" private school with boarding school in Vence. During the Popular Front, Freinet proposed a "Children's Front" chaired by Romain Rolland, and addressed parents to promote popular education. It launches the Brochures of New Popular Education (BENP).
1937: His school welcomes many children victims of the civil war in Spain. A "Célestin Freinet" school is opened in Barcelona by the Generalitat of Catalonia.
1939-1944: During the Second World War, the activities of the Freinet Movement were interrupted. Freinet was arrested, interned in several camps and then placed under house arrest in the Hautes-Alpes. The school in Vence was closed and ransacked. CEL members were deported and perished (Burgundians, Torcatis, Boubou, Varenne, Ballon).
1945: At the Liberation, Freinet led the Departmental Liberation Committee in Gap and cared for child victims of the war. CEL restarted and moved to Cannes. "The Educator" reappeared in 1945 and the Vence school could reopen.
1947: The Freinet Movement developed rapidly, organizing itself in 1947 into the Institut Coopératif de l'École Moderne (ICEM). Faced with the slanders launched against him by the PCF, Freinet and Élise left the Party in 1948 after 22 years of membership.
1949: The film "L'École buissonnière" by J.P. Le Chanois was released, based on a screenplay by Élise Freinet, devoted to the innovative Freinet and the Saint-Paul affair. This popular film will be a success and will have a huge impact. It is also the year in which Élise Freinet's book "Naissance d'une pédagogie populaire" is published.
1950-1954: A virulent Stalinist campaign against Freinet attempts unsuccessfully to destabilize the ICEM and CEL.
1957: FIMEM (Fédération Internationale des Mouvements d'École Moderne) is created, bringing together the movements of ten countries and consecrating the international influence of Freinet pedagogy. New magazines: "Art enfantin" in 1950, "Techniques de vie" in 1959, "l'Éducateur second degré" in 1963, and many others... will be published.
1964: The Freinet school is recognized as an experimental school, and its teachers are supported by the Ministry of National Education. Its reputation attracts many trainees and visitors from all over the world, and every summer meetings called "Days of Vence" are held there with the participation of personalities and researchers from the world of education.
1966: Freinet's itinerary continued until his death at the age of 70 in 1966, under the sign of natural methods and experimental trial and error, but also battles over working conditions ( 25 students per class since 1953!), the defence of childhood and... of peace.
Élise Freinet will continue their work and manage the school until her death in 1981. Their daughter Madeleine Bens-Freinet took over until 1991, when the Freinet school, bought by the State, became a public school and is now part of the heritage, with serious guarantees of recognition for the work of Célestin and Élise Freinet.
1968: The Mouvement Freinet continues to pursue its path, and at Easter 1968 the ICEM adopts the "Charter of the Modern School".
1978: Boosted by May 68, the ICEM pédagogie Freinet published the "Perspectives d'Éducation Populaire" (PEP) in 1978.
1986: The economic context leaves little room for cooperative structures and CEL has to file for bankruptcy, but restarts with the S.A. des PEMF (Publications de l'École Moderne Française).
1996: UNESCO pays a solemn tribute to Freinet on the occasion of the celebration of its Centenary, welcoming 49 delegations of children from all over the world and practicing Freinet pedagogy.
The European Commission, the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Education are sponsoring this event.
Nowadays: The cooperative classes of the Modern School still work with the techniques of free expression and school newspaper, inter-school correspondence and networks, with the contribution of modern techniques such as computers, minitel, fax, video, Internet... As at its origins, the ICEM teachers are convinced that Freinet's pedagogy, alive and generous, is the bearer of a popular education synonymous with hope and modernity for the 21st century.