A pupil is also a child, Review by Susannah Temple

Voici la version anglaise de la critique faite par Susannah Temple du livre que j’ai écrit avec  Françoise Hénaff et Christiane Salon : « Un élève est aussi un enfant ». Elle a été publiée dans le TAJ, revue internationale d’analyse transactionnelle.

 This is a passionate book written calmly and rationally in order to convey the complexity of  the subject addressed by the authors. The subject affects us all because childhood and our journey into adulthood is something we all live through. And then, in some way or other, we also take responsibility for shaping that journey for the generations that follow us.

 The authors reflect on schooling issues from a set of perspectives – the children, the parents and those who work in schools, with an emphasis on the early years. They then consider alternative possibilities for enhancing the schooling process so that its benefits can be more assured for all concerned.

The book therefore, although illuminating processes and factors that can cause more harm than good, also shows ways for transforming and humanising schooling. It engenders hope with its sensitivity, common sense and practical ways of describing and explaining the issues and what needs to be done.

Above all this is a book for teachers-to-be. Section Four in itself, I reckon, should be a text book for initial teacher education!

 The preface is by Hubert Montagner, an eminent retired professor of educational research with  immense knowledge, understanding and wisdom. In many ways he says everything I would like to convey in this review. Above all he appreciates the expertise and experience of the three authors and their knowledge, understanding and wisdom. As he writes – they really know what they are talking about.

« Un élève est aussi un enfant » is important and serious. I think it is a book of direct relevance to our time. It is also vivid and full of examples and stories that help the reader tune in to the issues. I confess that I cried over many pages as one does when a book speaks to the heart, – to one’s condition.

I also found, however, that reading it has helped me to widen my perspectives and become more objective in my attitude. I have increased my understanding of the psycho-social-political complexity of the phenomenon of compulsory full-time schooling for all, paricularly the very young.

 The context of the writing is France and the French educational system. Details of culture, political imperatives, administration and curriculum inevitably will vary from country to country. No matter. What this book is addressing are the principles and practicalities of any schooling system and how they do, and do not, meet the human needs for living, learning and growing up for generation after generation of children.

The authors highlight the fact that all concerned in these systems, the parents, teachers, politicians and children are human beings. All have needs. The cooperation of the adults is « indispensable »; a vital, ‘simple’ matter that paradoxically requires immense sensitivity and empathy as well as understanding. We are back to relationships and communication and the fact that the children are learning all the time from how the adults relate and communicate. This learning is a key  component of their school curriculum. It will affect their whole learning lives.

 I think it is important to remember that our ‘education’ is the life we lead; it is good when our ‘schooling’ makes a positive contribution.

« Un élève est aussi un enfant » points the way in which the long years of childhood spent in school can be a more positive and enabling experience in all the children’s lives. The title of the book is the book’s vital message.

I look forward to hearing that many translations are planned – indeed may already be in progress.

I do hope so.

Bravo and thank you to Françoise, Agnès and Christiane.

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