Things are moving in education. The cooperative approaches advocated for a long time by the OCCE (Office central de Coopération à L'Ecole : www2.occe.coop) and the ICEM (Institut coopératif de l'Ecole moderne : icem-pedagogic-freinet.org) seem to be gaining ground. I have just had two interesting experiences that attest to this:
I was invited to Epagny, near Annecy, to a training meeting for teachers organized by the SGEN-CFDT union with the participation of Sylvain Connac, researcher in educational sciences and lecturer at the University of Montpellier. It was the first time I met Sylvain Connac, but I already knew him through his books and mainly "Apprendre avec les pédagogies coopératives" (ESF 2009), a book which inspired me a lot and which shows the close links between cooperative pedagogies in formal education (school) and cooperative pedagogies in non-formal education (Scouting, CEMEA, Francas). I was struck by the deep interest shown by the fifty or so teachers present for the pedagogical approaches and Sylvain Connac is truly a master who knows, with modesty and moderation, how to enthrall his audience while making them participate actively. I had the opportunity to have a fruitful exchange with him and he is now listed on the Approches coopératives website.
Catherine Boucher, a teacher at the French high school in San Francisco, invited me to participate in the learning community that she leads, with the support of Julie Higounet of the French Secular Mission, a non-profit organization that supports a network of 109 French schools abroad. The goal of this community is to train teachers in the practice of Visible Thinking Routines developed by Professor David Perkins of Harvard University, Boston, USA. Visible Thinking Routines are cooperative exercises that aim to make visible the thought processes used by students in order to allow them to become aware of the efforts they need to make to access logical and critical thinking. On the cooperative approaches site, you can download a small book "Visible Thinking" which proposes a selection of the main thinking routines proposed by David Perkins and his team. If I'm not mistaken, this is the only French translation that exists at the moment. This learning community shows the interest of teachers in various countries to discover cooperative methods. They have understood that the transmissive approach (the frontal lecture) does not lead far and that it is necessary to engage children in an active and cooperative learning process, the only one that allows the teacher to help students learn to learn. Julie Higounet and Catherine Boucher are now also registered on the cooperative approaches site and we have begun to share our information and resources.
Nothing is more urgent today than to publicize and support the renewed interest in cooperative approaches that is increasingly evident in the world of education. The research undertaken by researchers such as Sylvain Connac can enrich the educational practices of formal education (the school world) as well as those of youth leaders and trainers in non-formal education.