In France, the open-air school is developing timidly

Turning forests into classrooms. The idea has existed in Denmark since 1952 and is beginning to spread widely in France. Elise Sergent is a school teacher in Mancenans in Doubs and has been introducing her students to a new form of learning for several years.

Lower classroom walls to expand students’ horizons. In Scandinavian countries, knowledge is acquired outside the school grounds, but in the forest, to provide all the subjects necessary for children to build themselves. In Northern Europe, this way of learning has become a philosophy of life since the 1950s and has begun to cross borders. In Denmark they are called “s”.kovbørnehave”, or “forest nursery”. In Swedish, it is called a school under “snowstorm and torrential rain”. Ur I and Skur“. Rain, wind or snow, learning takes place outdoors several days a week. But in France?

Between two hills we find the small village of Mancenans on the Doubs. A few steps from the Comtois bell tower, Elise Sergent’s students prepare to join the forest. For 4 years, the teacher of the multi-level class CE2-CM1-CM2 has created a new educational dynamic in this public institution with “school from outside”.

In order to realize his project, he faced the doubts of parents and administrators, who were later convinced by involving them in the development of this open school. Together with nature educator Aurore Blanquet, they are among those trying the adventure in Franche-Comté. Over time, even the most skeptical are reassured by his methods of learning to rhyme with prosperity. Because taking the child out of his comfort zone also means opening the doors to the world of tomorrow, giving him the keys to adapt to the challenges of everyday life.

School is often very collective. We cannot live 24 hours in a row, all the time in one place, all day, sitting in our chair for 6 hours without moving.

Elise Sergeant

school teacher

The basics are prerequisites: knowing how to read, write and count. But the methods to get there are different. Elise Sergent believes that sitting all day is not mandatory when you are 7 years old and on the move. With years of experience, the teacher knows that he can teach all subjects, including mathematics, in the forest. A notebook is not mandatory when the class is green. You just need to bend down to pick up leaves that will become tools.

In the forest we associate reflection with touch, but 5 senses are required. Specifically, how is this organized? A maple leaf symbolizes one unit, a beech leaf symbolizes ten, and an oak tree symbolizes one hundred units. To make 123, children combine one oak leaf, two beech leaves and three maple leaves. The senses are awakened and students create new affinities with the material through manipulation.

Students should feel comfortable in this environment, and Elise Sergent organizes itself around this principle. The lady looks after their comfort. Children, in turn, can come and see if they encounter the slightest disturbance in nature. He built this relationship of trust thanks to the Sarah Wauquiez method. The open school is based on the idea that direct contact with the natural environment contributes to the improvement of children’s well-being. This hypothesis is reinforced by a large selection of literature confirming the physical, psychological and social benefits of a green school.

work” School under the open sky” by Sarah Wauquiez is considered a bible for guiding students and giving ideas for classroom organization: 200 activities illustrate learning in concrete situations according to the school curriculum. She is a Swiss teacher and psychologist who started working with children from the age of 3. Since 1998, the age of 5 has been outdoors Today, he accompanies about ten public schools in Franche-Côte to benefit from his expertise.

We see it outside as well, they develop empathy towards living things. Trees, plants, animals, even the earth. When the forest is in our corner, they bring the waste back because it is their home. They will not litter everywhere. It’s natural, it just happens.

Aurore Blanquet

Nature teacher

At Mancenance, the guides marvel at the harmony that reigns among the students. Girls and boys all play together regardless of their level. Apparently a way to promote empathy. One might wonder if it came from students, but the project has been around for 4 years, so the method used would be longer. At the beginning of the school year, the teacher empowers the CM2s, who themselves have followed the example of the seniors when they were in CE2. They model the rules of the classroom and how they live by them, encouraging the younger ones to replicate this example. To continue offering her students another way to learn, Elise Sergent went to a classroom in Denmark.

In Hans Christian Andersen’s country, the schools have no fences because the children come and go freely. The educational approach is based on trust and encouragement, so it is not unusual to see young children cutting vegetables with sharp knives that would amaze a French parent.

Josefine Thomsen is a teacher at Karlebo School, about thirty kilometers from Copenhagen, and explains: ” We really trust our students, our children. We think they can. When we ask them to do something, if we give them the confidence they need, we see them grow.“In Denmark, 20% of public primary schools do enough open school to inspire some ideas.

The forest is a classroom, a film by Daniel Schlosser
Make a Wish is a co-production of Seppia Film and France 3 Bourgogne Franche-Comté
It will be broadcast on Thursday, January 26 at 10:50 p.m.
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