Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
The French Communist Party against Célestin Freinet (1949-1954): aspects of a deep opposition between democratization and emancipation at school
André Robert, Pierre Kahn

Última modificación: 2017-07-16


In the years 1949-1954, a rather violent controversy opposed the PCF to Célestin Freinet (Testanière, 1989, Peyronie, 1999). In a period when the PCF theorizes an allegedly universal epistemological opposition between "bourgeois science" and "proletarian science", of which the Soviet pseudo-savant Lyssenko is declared the emblematic representative in biology (Kahn, 1986), C. Freinet, himself a member of the PCF, claimed to be called the "Lysenko of pedagogy", in a letter to the French communist leader Georges Cogniot (1949). He thus believes that he is a pedagogue truly at the proletariat service. The controversy then unfolded with reversed fronts: whereas Freinet seems by this claim accept the then dominant communist thesis, the PCF seems to leave it behind. The party argues against Freinet by paradoxically mobilizing arguments arising from the traditional forms of secondary school culture (grammar schools), which it wants to give access to pupils from all social conditions, not just the children of the bourgeoisie. Freinet is not concerned, as PCF is, with the democratization of secondary schooling, but aims at the emancipation of children coming from the proletariat, through the in-depth (and first pedagogical) transformation of primary schooling.

After having recalled the circumstances and the terms of the PCF's offensive against Freinet's pedagogy, having analyzed the tactical and theoretical foundations of the communist position, the paper will examine the way in which the author of L’éducation du travail defends his own positions, in the name of a strong vision of primary school culture. The theoretical foundations of this conception will in turn be questioned. We consider to be dealing in that occasion essentially with an opposition between the project of the working-class emancipation and the desire for democratizationby access to secondary and higher education for the large number.