Cooperative Learning & Social Change
Selected Writings of Celestin Freinet

Clandfield, David; Sivell, John (edited and translated by)
Publisher:  Our Schools/Our Selves & OISE Publishing
Year Published:  1990  
Pages:  146pp   ISBN:  ISBN 0-921908-07-5
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX4498

Abstract:  In reaction to the highly centralized and controlled French education system in the 1920s and 1930s, Celestin Freinet, a rural teacher in the south of France, pioneered an international movement for radical educational reform. Using a cooperative learning approach between pupil and pupil, teacher and parent, and pupil and community, Freinet emphasized creative and relevant schoolwork for children's learning that involved a direct appreciation of the natural world. The use of appropriate technologies were an essential part of classroom teaching.
In his innovative look at the modern school, Freinet believed that activities such as composition writing should not be done because the teacher has scheduled it into the classroom timetable but because the child has something to say and a burning need to say it. In this way, writing becomes a medium of communication with others and can reflect the expression of the child's inner self. Freinet spells out techniques for generating this 'free writing' in a primary school classroom.
In the technique of classroom printing, the children use an actual printing press to create text recounting the experience of a recent outing. Printing led to the development of a school magazine filled with the children's writing and was distributed to other schools in France.
Examples of Freinet's natural method at work for reading and writing, grammar and scientific enquiry are provided. Natural learning is an experimental process of learning through trial and error. The role of the teacher is to construct tasks that require cooperation and help learners see the point of activities expected of them in school.
Selections of Freinet's writing used in the book also reflect how a classroom should be organized and, curriculum planning based on both the needs of the pupil and work-based skills training.
The necessary linkage of such an education system to the surrounding community and to societal change is also addressed.
Introductory passages to each part of the book by the editors and translators provide a helpful understanding of the excerpts presented. This is the first English translation to bring a broad selection of Freinet's work to an English-speaking audience.