Scientific article
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«Freinet Chimneys»: Experimenting with Emancipatory Public Education (Geneva in the 60s to 80s). Piaget's Dream of an Active School?

ContributorsHofstetter, Rita
Published inEspacio, Tiempo y Educación, vol. 7, no. 1, p. 89-115
Publication date2020

The emancipatory potential of the 1960s had a particular resonance in Swiss education in the French-speaking part of the country. Teachers, parents and unionists, all advocating Freinet pedagogy, demanded that the demonised public education be reformed. Retracing the main steps of their successes and setbacks in the sector of Geneva public education, this article enquires into the rhetorical strategies and tactical alliances the reformists mobilised in order to promote «schools open to life», respectful of the natural longing to learn thanks to educational streams in primary schools dedicated to their cause (the «Freinet chimneys» implemented for a while at the turn of the 1980s). Inputs address the way the leaders of the reform historicised their initiatives so as to establish rightful filiation, calling upon some major figures whilst neglecting others. The scientific approval of Jean Piaget and Élise Freinet, as well as part of the left-wing party in power, might have endorsed the project; nonetheless, the leading figures of Geneva New Education were rarely invoked. How should we interpret these twists and turns? How were the narratives being scripted, and by whom? How were the innovations tested by others and integrated elsewhere so as to support the public education reform? Analysis of the underlying dynamics of this experiment reveal how «everyday» people rose up in a crisis and seized the opportunity to open up a world of possibilities; this can be highlighted through the lenses of the notion of «protagonism», which brings together «ordinary» people and their «extraordinary» politicisation (Bantigny, 2018; Deluermoz & Gobille, 2015).

  • Protagonism in the 1960s
  • Piagetian endorsement
  • Geneva Freinet Group
  • Alternatives in public education
  • Controversial democratisation
Citation (ISO format)
HOFSTETTER, Rita. «Freinet Chimneys»: Experimenting with Emancipatory Public Education (Geneva in the 60s to 80s). Piaget’s Dream of an Active School? In: Espacio, Tiempo y Educación, 2020, vol. 7, n° 1, p. 89–115. doi: 10.14516/ete.248
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2340-7263

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