Celestin Freinet – a “reformative” schoolteacher
The famous schoolteacher and educator Célestin Freinet (1896-1966) taught in Saint-Paul de Vence between 1928 and 1933.
Célestin Freinet came to Saint-Paul de Vence in 1928. In letters that his wife Elise wrote to her parents, she says, among other things, that the school in Saint-Paul de Vence was an old building with a small playground and Virginia creeper (climbing wild wine), used for shade. The teacher’s home was upstairs in the classroom.
Celestin Freinet’s teaching method was based on autonomy and the students themselves played an active role, especially through teamwork.
Printed their own newspaper
Every afternoon he took the students on “educational walks” through the village or the forest and explained about flowers, trees and animals as well as the history of the houses and ramparts. With inspiration from these walks, the kids would write and better their styles. Using a printing press, students could print their own newspaper called “Les Remparts” (the ramparts). In it, they published their own drawings and texts.
Freinet also occasionally went down to the village fountain to hold his lessons; accompanied by water jugs, the students were set to solve mathematical problems.
His pedagogy based on children’s autonomy and the use of the printing press to produce texts was far from the normal French conception of secular schooling at the time. It therefore created great division in the city. So large that it also spread to other parts of France.
Started own school in Vence
He left Saint-Paul de Vence in 1933 to open his own school in Vence just 3 km away – the École Freinet de Vence.
The boys’ school in Saint-Paul de Vence was active until 1985.
OBS! Today, the building that housed the school can only be viewed from the outside and there is a large information board hanging outside.
By Tommy Sverre / 2021