Active pedagogy, as practised at La Découverte aims to make every learner the key participant in their learning, so that they build their knowledge through direct research and project-based activities.

The history of Active Pedagogy

An early proponent of active pedagogy was Adolphe Ferrière who, at the beginning of the 20th century, was among the first to use the term ‘active school’ in his publications. It is one of the roots of the Progressive Education Movement. Educationalists, like Freinet promoted an alternative model of teaching to transmission. From 1964 onwards, in his “pedagogical invariants”, Freinet wrote
“The normal route of acquisition is by no means the observation, explanation and demonstration, the essential process of the School, but the experimental trial and error, natural and universal approach.” He adds, “Acquisitions are not made, as some believe, through the study of rules and laws, but through personal experience. To study rules and laws first, be they for English, the arts, mathematics or sciences, is to place the cart before the horse.”

Active pedagogy in action

An important element of active pedagogy is the idea of the project. Here, the term project refers to the conception, the planning and the implementation of an activity. This process leads to the acquisition of both practical skills and academic objectives with a precise end goal in mind (for example, planning the end of year trip). The assessment is formative and focuses on the process of learning as a whole, in particular on the development of interpersonal skills.

In order for a pupil to be intellectually active, the learning environment must give them freedom to research and organise their work. Using these active methods, the child is able to be more independent, the research is often completed in a group and then more formal written methods and consolidation exercises are completed both at school and at home. Learning objectives are achieved through a process where the objectives and evaluation criteria are made clear to the child from the outset, enabling them to understand the meaning behind the objective.