The art of love becomes « method for fraternity » in the school world

 Pierre Benoit

 

Our adventures started three years ago, in the high school of Sarcelles, where I teach Italian. On the 28th September 2007, two students Lesly, Malagasy-Antillean, and Bushra, Turkish, fought violently. On the same day, after that fight, I presented the “Golden Rule” to my students and the “method for fraternity”.

The Golden Rule, which is present in all cultural and religious areas of the planet, states (version of the First French Constitution of 1795): « All the duties of man and citizen derive from these two principles, engraved by nature in all hearts: « Do not do to others what you would not want be done to you; do constantly to others the good you would want be done to you ».

 

The method for fraternity laic version of the Art of love of Chiara Lubich – consists of 6 points which are proposed to students using a formulation appropriate to their age.[1] :

  • I consider every men as a brother
  • I look at the positive in the other
  • I make the first move towards the other
  • I go even towards my enemy
  • I understand the other (his/her thoughts, joys, sufferance)
  • I act in this way until the other as well consider me as a brother

Shortly after, also thanks to the mediation of a colleague, the two students who had fought started to talk again to each other and then made peace. Finally they told me that they wished to give a testimony of peace by preparing (together with other 40 young people) short films and reports on this theme, in order to build a culture of peace within the school. The students started to sensitize children and youth of different school of Sarcelles on this topic.

In April 2008, during a trip to Italy, there were again intercultural tensions. However, in this occasion as well, the process of reconciliation that followed was the point of departure of an effective, concrete and prompt initiative, which led to the founding of the "FRATERN’AIDE" association.

The students wrote the statutes of the association which were then given to the sub-prefecture of Sarcelles on 6th June 2008, in the context of the Xth International Exposition of Peace Initiatives of Paris, by Kevin – young deputy of the association – together with me and two other school mates.

Fratern’Aide was born. Its goal is helping to build peace, fraternity and solidarity among everyone, including among generations. This goal is pursued by collaborating with elderly people for organizing meeting in old people homes and by presenting the method for fraternity in primary, lowers secondary and upper secondary schools, associations and various conferences.

 

From the very beginning the Method for fraternity proposed by Fratern’Aide made its own way in the school, as well as in the surrounding civil and cultural world.

In the school, starting from the one where I teach, some teachers have grounded the class social life in the Method for fraternity, with the aim of responding to the problems of bullying and violence that students face. This experience spread to other schools: the young members of Fratern’Aide went in various primary school of Paris’ suburbs presenting the fraternity dice and explaining how to use it with the help of teachers and they were invited to present the Method for fraternity to the 120 students of the vocational high school of Clichy, one of the most renowned of the Paris region. During this meeting the idea came up to start a blog for sharing the experiences done on the points of the Method. Finally the association has been invited to intervene at the Fourth International Meeting of the Network of Civic Schools (Réseau des Écoles CIToyennes: RÉCIT)[2].

By now, the range of activity of the Association goes well beyond the school world. Already in 2007 the students had prepared a festival with the title: Fraternity at school, fraternity in the city, organized in the town of Sarcelles, with more than 250 participants. A bilingual poem (Fratellanza / Fraternité, see Appendix) written by the 10th grade students of my school won an award from the Human Rights League. A friendship developed with the agnostic philosopher Bruno Mattei (author of the book: Is fraternity possible?) and we worked together at an educational tool (DVD + didactical booklet + « fraternity dice »). This tool shows how important is a fraternal practice of the educational act based on the Golden Rule and on the Method for fraternity, with precise references to the directives of the French Ministry of Education[3].

Finally, the Method for fraternity was presented twice at UNESCO[4] and, in spring 2011, Fratern’Aide will present its experience at the European Council, on invitation of the President of the Human Rights Commission, who is preparing the first European Youth Fair in Strasburg.

 

The many fruits and positive feedbacks we received prove that today bringing the art of love in the school responds to a deep and essential need.

Hélène, temporary teacher in 2nd grade, told us that at the beginning of each week she asks one of her students to throw the fraternity dice. At the end of the week, after a moment of silence, every student tells how he/she put into practice the point of the art of love of that came out that week. « This year, as luck would have it, the point “I go eve towards my enemy” came out three times in a row! However, each time the children told new and nice experiences of making peace at school and in their family! »

Claire, Technology teacher in a lower secondary school of Sarcelles reported that she had hanged the 6 points of the Method for fraternity at the class walls, trying to explain how living those points would help improving interpersonal relations. « One day, a particularly hard and introverted child said in front of everyone: “Last night I decided to make peace with my brother, with whom I had not talked for weeks».

Dominique, Mathematics teacher in the last grade of the Pont-à-Mousson High school, starts each lesson with a minute of silence, in which she asks students to set aside what they experienced in the previous lesson and to prepare to welcome each other. « Each year, my first lesson is consecrated to explaining the Golden Rule as a basis for all what happens in class… and this changes the relations ».

 

Finally, the young people of Fratern’Aide made an interesting remark: « It is necessary to educate to peace and freedom when one is young, because afterwards it is too late ».



  1. 1.For children., the six points are formulated in the following way:
  • I love everyone
  • I see the other as a friend
  • I make the first move towards the other
  • I go even towards my enemy
  • I share the other’s joys and sufferences
  • We make peace

 

 

[2] Nancy, 30 ottobre – 1 novembre 2010. Fratern’Aide è intervenuta nell’ambito dell’atelier: « inserire la fraternità nel cuore della convivenza »

[3] L’80% del DVD è ultimato. Il progetto, dopo la preparazione di un adeguato dossier e più incontri con il vice-sindaco, è stato approvato e ha ricevuto un finanziamento pubblico.

[4] All’UNESCO Chantal Grevin, rappresentante New Humanity, ha potuto presentare il Metodo.

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Tesi di laurea

Sono numerosi gli studenti che hanno scritto e discusso tesi di laurea dando un loro contributo al comune cammino di ricerca mondiale per una "pedagogia dell'unità".

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