Issue n° 32

Opening : Enfantines (extract), Valéry Larbaud

Moral chronicle : Sport in Schools, Michaël Clad (Collège Victor Hugo, Noisy-le-Grand)

The status of sport is school is very ambivalent: constantly canvassed (on grounds of its contribution to personal development, citizenship education …), yet sport is often marginalised, indeed neglected. The author offers several helpful historical reminders. Historically within aristocratic and popular traditions, sport is first of all for relaxation and pleasure, whereas in the form of agôn, the aim is victory and this requires discipline and patience. In school can physical education and sport promote the spirit of play as well as the competitive spirit? In fact, as M. Serres reminds us, the aim of participation in sport is to rather to ‘learn to lose with grace’ and the educational value lies is preparation for setbacks –The educational case for sport suggests that it is more than simply a game that has no other point.

Notion : Sleep, Alain Vergnioux (Université de Caen)

Sleep provides an immediate and simple rhythm to our nights and to our days. But the reality is more troubling. Prous and Kawabata describe the worrying mystery that « sleeping beauties » raise by virtue of the movement that occurs in deepest sleep. Shakespeare mischievously explores the fantasies and spells that assail the sleepers in Midsummer Night s’Dream. In the darkest depths of sleep, doors are opened to frightening processions of monsters of the night. But, according to the author, if literature has made of sleep and dreaming one of its preferred themes, it is the cinema that reflects incomparably and most closely the experience of dreaming.

Report: Children and the imaginative domain

Presentation, Dominique Ottavi (University Paris VIII)

Self-expression and the imaginative domain, Gérard Wormser (ENS Lyon)

The child imagines the world at the same time as he learns to live; the imaginative capacity allows him to conjure with possibilities and to give them shape. The author provides evidence through the imagery of Yves Tanguy of Max Ernst that poses in a dramatic fashion the possibility of visualisation, and the energy and content by which it is constituted. In Sartrean terms, the ‘pratico-inert’ is the key to the imaginative domain. The imaginative capacity allows the subject to find expression in a mixture of reality and illusion, the works of childhood are the seedbed of adult life.

The child in the adult the pupil in the teacher, Florence Giust-Desprairies (University Paris VII)

Based on workshops with groups of teachers, the author sheds light on the influence of their own past as pupils on the relationships that they subsequently have with the classes they teach. The case-study described is of a teacher whose childhood was divided into a period in Algeria that nourished her imaginative capacities and a period of schooling in France after decolonisation. The latter required the repression of childhood experience. The analysis shows how this teacher found in Greco-Roman culture a ‘Mediterranean’ connection that allowed her to draw together the two phases of her identity. This also enabled her better to understand the relationship between her pupils and the school as an institution.

Children and tales of wonder: a domain for imagining the other?, Renaud Hétier (UCO Angers)

At the beginning of life children encounter the world through the body. According to the author this relationship in shaped by fear, falling, annihilation. Recourse to the other remains ambivalent in as far as at the same time the other protects and alienates. The following is the dilemma: how should we take into account the ambivalence of dependence. These different traits put a primordial shape on the imaginative domain of childhood. The author analyses in this perspective traditional tales of wonder, examines the ‘uncivilised’ culture of the child through which the imaginative domain comes up against the dominant imaginative sphere of adulthood and considers the relationship to time that is established.

Video games and the domain of the imagination, Marina d’Amato (University Rome III)

What makes video games distinctive and particularly appealing is the opportunity they offer offered to the user to become the protagonist in the video stories and to become a participant in her or his own right. The author analyses this huge output going back historically as far as 1958, its conceptualisations, manufacture and distribution. She also notes that both in the themes and characters and also in the users, these games have a predominantly masculine profile. The moral values that they transmit are courage, perseverance, inventiveness but all require that players show their skill and all involve cruelty in a world where death is often the price of a mistake or setback.

Children as a reading public, Dominique Ottavi (University Paris VIII)

Reflecting on the place of literature in culture, P. Hazard in 1932 devoted all his attention to the expression of children’s sensibility to be found in the distant past in folk tales. Edifying literature with a pedagogic purpose was to see a decline of which J.-J. Rousseau was the instigator. It is a question of giving to children a choice of what to read and this will also facilitate the revival of a debilitated European culture.

A comming of age novel for the third millennium that binds farewell to the eternal adolescence of the twentieth century, Marie-Louise Martinez (IUFM de Nice)

A reading of the seven volumes of Harry Potter with the tools of mimetic anthropology shows that the work of J.K. Rowling presents an entire vision of society, school and education. In the tales, light is shed on the violence involved in its two principal processes; segregation or confusion. Breaking with the tradition of the twentieth century best-sellers and their romantic fascination with adolescence, Harry Potter discloses the work of anthropological reconstruction going on today in the imaginative worlds of contemporary youth. The tale of the young magicians will contribute therefore to a new understanding of human life and to the ending of the bewitching of the world.

L’Oiseau Bleu : history of a review written by children for children, Laurent Gutierrez (University Paris VIII)

In founding L’Oiseau Bleu in 1922, R. Coussinet wished to promote a children’s literature based on the scientific principles of experimental pedagogy. The method of ‘free group work’ led him to write stories for children. He provided teachers who wished to follow his method with precise directions that preserved their autonomy and their freedom to choose. The review was very quickly subject to numerous attacks (similar to those that Freinet experienced over free text) and ran into practical difficulties. Despite this, Cousinet carried on the project setting up ‘children’s libraries’ designed to promote an enriching literature for children, for which L’Oiseau Bleu could have been the model.

Document : Writings of young delinquents, Mathias Gardet (Université Paris VIII)

Observation centres set up in the 1940s organised on the lines of boarding schools, took in young delinquents for a three months period in order to guide them towards dedicated educational institutions with supervisory functions. In the centres they underwent a certain number of tests aimed to detect forms of mental instability, levels of intelligence and forms of deviance. Their writings from the archive of the centre of Savigny-sur-Orge give voice to their desires and dreams as well as their jaundiced view of the society into which they were born.

Studies : Kfar-Yeladim the children’s village: the pioneering experience of Pougatchev in Eretz-Israël, as seen by Joseph Kessel (1926), Laurent Fedi (IUFM of Alsace) and Yaffa Wolfman (Bar-Ilan University, Israel)

The authors present with a commentary J. Kessel’s text where he describes the experience of Kfar-Yeladim (the children’s republic) that he visited in 1926 during his journey to Israel. The experiment was welcomed by J. Piaget and A. Ferrière as an exemplar of a new form of education. Following the prompting of the Ukrainian expert in pedagogy, S.Z. Pougatchev, Kfar-Yeladim was organised according to the principle of self-direction by children (division of labour, a constitution, a court) around the central notion of work. This ‘adventure in pedagogy’ was, however, short-lived because traditional forms of education were judged more appropriate for the building of a new state.