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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #289 - Neither God nor schoolmaster: Cempuis, an oasis of studious freedom (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Fri, 14 Dec 2018 07:44:56 +0200

The orphanage Prevost of Cempuis entrusted to Paul Robin between 1880 and 1894, it is quite a libertarian program which suddenly comes alive in a place which will open perspectives hitherto unknown by the school of the Republic. This is a singular novelty because Cempuis is under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Instruction and largely recomposes the rules in force elsewhere. ---- They are 4 to 16 years old and are orphaned by at least one parent. After an assessment of three to six months, 447 young people will permanently integrate the orphanage. A team chosen by Robin according to demanding specifications is responsible for reconstituting for these " students " a community family where, as in any family, young people and adults (educators also live there with their families) interact in an intimacy that restores the life of a natural family.

The walls that separate young boys from girls are cut down. Three hours a day are devoted to elective activities that allow you to discover where the taste and skills of each person are. The educational approach is based on action, empirical discovery and there is no methodological a priori that hinders creativity. On the contrary it is reinforced by activities carried out in environments and with educational tools unpublished for the time: a botanical garden, a printing press that allows for the joint production of books, various laboratories to put into practice the scientific principles, a well-stocked library to study course topics and beyond, etc.

Classes are done in the open air as much as possible, not just according to program instructions, but also on topics of concern to children, and physical activity is central: Robin's entire program of integral education puts into practice, and indeed, he wants to form a complete human being, intellectual, manual, physically and psychically balanced in all its dimensions.

It's a school of work too, where we meet everyday workers. Because the educational outings are numerous and allow to know the trades that make up the society represented outside the school. The craft workshops, the bakery and the shoemaker's shop are visited, as is the nature surrounding the orphanage. It brings back subjects of course, activities to realize, dreams of professional future emancipated and proud of his work. And as society evolves, and quickly, we also learn stenography, we look at geology, and many other applied sciences.

And from 1890, it is the school that opens to society through visits from people interested in experimentation. It is then Robin who animates conferences in the cities of Oise then more widely in France. And it is then a fame that begins to spread and brings with it the shadow of reactionary forces. What will be the fate of this island of freedom in a III e triumphant Republic, installed and hands-righteous Republicans ? Why the experience will not be continued beyond 1894 is what we will see next month. Until then, that 2019 be, for us, revolutionary !


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