London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Can 'money' help teach citizenship to our children?

Author(s) Etienne, R  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2003  
Editor Europe of Many Cultures, Alastair Ross Ed.  
Language English  
Age group -  
I am not a puppet!', 'Sandpit stories!' shouts Jérémy, who presides over the 'class counsel'2, in the hope of not losing too much time. This is the last Saturday morning of the period 3, and the schedule is rather full. I am sitting within a circle of pupils in a Priority Network of Education class whose teacher works according to the pedagogy of Freinet (1950). Learning is carried out through the activities of the pupils themselves, and the success of this 'natural method' rests on institutions like the 'class counsel', 'what's new', the class fund, class correspondence and class magazine. This class includes three levels - third, fourth, and fifth grades (children from eight to eleven years old). The teacher, Sylvain Connac, is silent and does not allow himself to intervene, but the pupils may ask him for advice or about a technical point. Everyone tries to go directly to the point, urged on by the Chairman. The morning cannot end without the largely unknown institution I discuss here: the 'market' during which the children are able to spend the 'currency' which is in circulation in Balard school (and which was named after a 19th century chemist from Montpellier). This currency is called the 'bal'. This 'wage' and the manner of spending it raises questions in terms of the acquisition of citizenship: should we allow the pupils receive a 'payment' which depends on their achievement and their conduct, and which they may exchange when they go shopping at their 'market' within the classroom? What kind of attitude toward knowledge will they develop if they become used to cashing in on, and even negotiating, the fulfilment of the objectives of their individualised programme of training in institutional pedagogy (PIDAPI)?

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