Historically, active pedagogy refers to Adolphe Ferrière who, at the beginning of the 20th century, was among the first to use the term active school in his publications. Pedagogues such as Pestalozzi, Decroly, Montessori, Gattegno and Freinet have also played an important role in establishing this new pedagogy. Our school is part of this movement and also refers to some of Jean Piaget’s work. There are many differences between the active pedagogy as it was at the beginning of the 20th century and what it is today. It has the particularity of being in constant evolution. Thus the work of current French speaking researchers or associations such as the AFL (Association Française pour la Lecture) and the GFEN (Groupe Français d’Education Nouvelle) and that of the Faculty of Education of the University of Geneva, continue to influence active pedagogy.
In 1972, Claude Ferrière, Robert Hacco, Michael Hubermann, Laurie Lamartine and Freddy Stauffer founded an association with the aim of promoting active pedagogy in Geneva. Faced with the difficulty of introducing a rapid change within the public education system, they opened a private school at Route de Malagnou in 1973. To do this, they called on various people already involved in active pedagogy, including Jean-Claude Brès and Ariane Ferrière. Over the years, the school has been managed by Maria Jimenez, Ariane Ferrière, Stéphane Michaud, Paule Watteau and Catherine Yersin. Today, Emmanuel Bouvier and Julie Bonin are in charge of the school.
In fact, at the time of its foundation, parents and teachers took all decisions together at the General Assembly. From 1979 onwards, two trends emerged and in August 1980, Ecole Active changed its statutes and was managed by a directorate.
We should actually speak of the active child. The aim of this pedagogy is to make the child active in his/her learning; the child builds his/her knowledge through research situations organized by the teachers.
In order to build up their knowledge, children learn through trial and error, formulate hypotheses and then check them. Imagine, for example, that a group of children has to answer the following question: What is the purpose of the letter s at the end of French words? The first answer will be: the s shows that the word is plural. They are given a text and told to underline all the words that end with an s and to arrange them into different groups. In this way, they will discover that the S in the French language has several roles (verb conjugation, plural, etc.) and will become aware of the rules instead of just being told about it. Far from being feared, errors are exploited as a formative tool. They are the source of reflections, arguments and experiments that lead to constructed knowledge.
Yes, it takes time, but we can’t do without. We want the child to develop an attitude of “searcher” when faced with new situations. The knowledge acquired in this way is long-lasting and will form a solid foundation. In the long term therefore, this approach saves time.
In order for a child to be motivated, it is necessary to offer him/her meaningful activities.
At Ecole Active, each child will follow a different path according to his/her interests and needs. A personal project is developed with the teacher. The challenge for the teacher will be to find what best suits each child or group of children.
At the classroom level, we practice, among other things, project-based learning.
A few years ago, for example, a project called “Container for Niger” allowed our students to correspond with children in Africa. Through this project, we worked on geography, history, environment, but also French and mathematics. A small group of students even went on a two-week camp in Niamey to meet the children of the Atlik school.
Creating a play in three languages from scratch, replacing salespeople to advise books in a city bookstore, finding ways to go scuba diving in the Mediterranean, creating a class newspaper… There are many possibilities that bring meaning and motivation to school work.
Project-based learning allows students to make links between the different subjects from their curriculum.
Not at all. We follow a program based on the PER (Plans d’Etudes Romand), with clear objectives to be reached for each level of learning. It is the paths leading to these objectives that can vary from student to student.
Yes, 3-year-olds can learn to dress themselves, put their shoes on, and gather the necessary materials for their work… It is by allowing them to acquire autonomy through simple daily tasks, that children will gradually become autonomous in more complex activities. In the same way, from the age of 3, children can take on responsibilities in various situations.
Our goal is for children to become socially and academically responsible students.
This means respect for others, adults and children alike, understanding class and school rules, being able to establish harmonious relationships etc…
For example, each new student will have a sponsor, at least for the first year at school, to help him/her to integrate successfully. Experience shows that the relationships between the older and younger children are strengthened by that bond.
Collaboration with parents is essential. We think it is important that there is a certain coherence between the family and the school on an educational level. One of the tools in place is the tripartite contract. Twice a year, the child, the parents and the teacher meet for an interview. During the first term, they establish a project for the child on academic and social levels. At the end of the year, there is an evaluation of the child’s progress.
Parents can also get involved in the life of the school (library, maintenance of games, garden, organization of parties, etc.) and/or via the APA Association des Parents Actifs.
Evaluation is absolutely essential for the child to progress. It is a reference point for everyone: child, teacher, parents. Formative assessment is used in the classroom. This takes into account the individual progress of each child and allows continuous adjustment to his/her needs.
Furthermore, this allows the children not to be ranked amongst each other.
Well. Generally speaking, children coming out of Ecole Active feel quite confident.
Of course, they might have the same fears as any child who approaches a new school or a new system. However, they have become accustomed to collaborating, asking questions, respecting others as well as to work autonomously. These are all skills which will allow them to settle in easily.
The teaching methods used at Ecole Active aim at the harmonious development of the child’s personality through the construction of academic skills, social intelligence, independence and critical thinking.
Children aged 3 to 10 (including 6P) benefit from a bilingual French-English immersion program