Open Access
Gresso, Hélène
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 05, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Monique Yvonne Yaari, Committee Chair
  • Dr Monique Oyallon, Committee Chair
  • Jeannette Danielle Bragger, Committee Member
  • Christiane Jocelyne Makward, Committee Member
  • Steve L Thorne, Committee Member
  • citoyenneté et éducation
  • Parti Communiste Français (PCF)
  • Charles Maurras
  • Education in France
  • enseignants français
  • Mouvement Freinet
  • pédagogues et républicains
“Déplacer les lignes”: les enseignants Freinet, citoyens et pédagogues républicains [“Shifting the lines”: The Freinet teachers, citoyens and pédagogues républicains] « Si l’on nous demande, ‘quelle est la ligne de votre mouvement?’, nous devrions sans doute répondre, ‘le mouvement qui déplace les lignes’. » [If we’re asked, ‘ what is your movement’s line ?’, we should probably answer, ‘the movement that shifts the lines’.] In the fields of cultural and intellectual history and cultural studies today, questions of education open interesting perspectives for the understanding of contemporary France. In this study, a phenomenon that has come to be known as the “Mouvement Freinet” will be approached as just such a point of entry into Twentieth century France, its values, and its mentalities. Started in 1924 by Célestin Freinet, this very loose “movement” or network has evolved, engaging in dialogue and confrontation with most key intellectual and political positions throughout the decades, and impacting the educational system all the way to our day. By examining these encounters (such as with the Left and the Extreme-Right) between the Freinet movement and a set of key issues throughout the century, and by analyzing the thought processes that characterized these exchanges, this study illuminates values, perceptions, and ideologies, and shows how ideas and positions initially considered subversive if not revolutionary, as shifts in mentalities, have come to be incorporated into the “mammoth” State educational system, thus reflecting not so much an acceptation of the movement in question, as the perceptions and assumptions of the wider society. Central to the Freinet ‘movement’ are issues such as autonomy, “parole” and its legitimacy, articulation of politics and the political, authority, order, dissension, democracy, and citizenship. I examine these issues through, on the one hand, interviews conducted with current members of the Freinet “movement”, and, on the other hand, historical and archival research on the movement and its evolving cultural/political context. In the end of this analysis, the “movement” and its impact emerges as having reflected the dynamics of certain progressive cultural forces within France, as well as, to some extent, their limitations; or, in summary, France the imaginary country, the project, and the reality.