Grenoble, France : Ecole de la Paix


A talk by Matthieu Damian, Director of Ecole de la Paix at the Madrid forum on urban violence and education for peace, April 2017

In Grenoble, a few years ago we started an projet in education for peace to guide young people from Grenoble to become commited and responsible citizens. Because I only have 5 minutes to talk, i’ll go straight to the 6 mains points of the project.

First of all, we make a diagnosis of the territory concerned. We intervene in complicated suburbs facing unemployement, urban violence, etc. We go to schools, middle schools and secondary schools (different schools for children from 3 to 15 years old) and educational centres asking them to tell us their needs. We don’t impose ready-made solutions, we first figure out their needs.

As an association, we are committed to work in a long term perspective in those different suburbs, realizing that nothing can be gained without long term action.

Thirdly, we offer a number of educational tools from the Ecole de la Paix (School of Peace) based on what we call “mental pictures. ”

The comic strips drawns by Pixar called “Vice Versa”, speak of 5 main emotions : Fear, Anger, Joy, Sadness and Disgust. We can see that characters have, for each of these emotions, a lot of associated memories, either positive or negatives, which are mental pictures.

In l’Ecole de la Paix, (School of Peace), we provide a number of mental pictures in favour of « Living together ».

What do we mean by mental images ? It can be a story or an attitude or actions in favour of peace or in favour of violence. Our logic at the School of Peace is to provide a certain number of teaching tools to children. Thanks to them, once they have to make a decision, they will search in their memories and choose mental pictures they’re filled with to make a good decision.

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(Click here for the French version of this article)

Question related to this article:


How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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On the other hand, we know that if the child has negative mental pictures, he’ll make bad decisions. That’s why it is important to regularly repeat positive mental picture, and to adopt them. Because if you see people talking about positive mental pictures but aren’t adopting them, there is evidently a problem.

The forth aspect is an African proverb:  « It takes a whole community to raise a child ».

The Ecole de la Paix (School of Peace) cannot succeed alone, we’re not wizards. We involve judges, policemen, firemen, etc. in order to restore a dialogue between public authority and young people in those places where authority is less and less respected, whether it’s for a good or a bad reason. For example, when the police officer first comes into the room, the pupils have a negative corporal attitude, with their bodies leaning backwards. By the end of the meeting, their bodies are much more leaning forwards. They are listening much more and some are raising their hands.

Obviously, this cannot change everything but it helps them to play the role of civil society.

Fifthly, we intervene not only in schools but also in educational centres, on Wednesdays afternoon, to fortify messages we’ve sent out in schools. Pedagogy requires repetition.

Finally, we try to include parents in our action. To that end, we invite them to our actions at a theatre forum where their children do role-playing in which they react as citizens or not. We realize via the theatre forum that it is often the child who creates difficulties who has himself the solution of his bad behavior and is able to reestablish the « Living together ». It’s really a great thing to be able to say to a child « you’re creating difficluties but you also have to solution to solve it so show it us how». Very often, they take on this role with a lot of pleasure.