Implementing institution: Escuela Celestin Freinet
Execution period: 1980 - in progress
Plataforma de Prácticas Efectivas:
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To "give children a voice" so that they can develop their technical and cognitive skills.
A school model based on the Freinet method that promotes self-management, cooperation and solidarity among students.
Teachers indicate a positive impact of the program as they see that their students have increased their ability to speak out and find solutions to the problems they face.
Celestin Freinet School in Chile has been inspired by a methodology developed in 1928 by the French teacher of the same name to implement the approach of his pedagogy which is based on the possibilities and needs of the child. It targets vulnerable children and the school functions as a subsidized private entity where parents pay only for tuition while the Ministry of Education covers the costs of other activities.
Its methodology focuses on the child, seeks to promote self-management, cooperation and solidarity among students through a practical pedagogy based on real-life issues. Among other activities, the “Free Texts” stand out, during which the child expresses him/herself freely through writing; using their own ideas, experiences and concerns. Texts are read and discussed later in class so that peers can re-appropriate ideas.
In parallel, during recess and before each class, children listen to classical music, according to a schedule that varies by composer. Then, they are divided into small groups according to their ages to organize recreational activities. Additionally, in class, there are 15 daily minutes of silent reading. Each class has its own library whose books are lent to be taken home, not only to the students but also to their parents, to promote the pleasure of reading. Temporarily, poetry recitation contests and work groups about a particular book are organized. Children also have access to a computer room for half an hour during lunch break and at the end of the formal activity for free use.
In a context of high inequality in the provision of quality education in Chile, there are many initiatives that have sought to modify their school models and innovate their projects and methodologies. Throughout its 27 years of existence, Celestin Freinet School serves more than 360 children with high vulnerability indexes, from pre-kindergarten to 8th grade. The teachers and the school board have persevered in their educational project, actively involving parents and the local community, so that even some parents collaborate with the teachers by taking attendance, taking readings, cleaning the rooms and controlling the children’s arrivals and dismissals.
Periodic evaluations, including standardized tests and classroom observations, have shown positive effects of the Celestin Freinet model in Chile. In general, participating children have increased cognitive and emotional skills, improved their performance and communication, as well as developing opinions. Given its low costs, the Freinet method could be replicated in a feasible manner in settings with high levels of vulnerability and requiring children to improve their confidence and ability to relate to the environment.