France - Promoting informal education. When Salesian pedagogy extends to the playground

26 July 2018

(ANS - Paris) - Adult educational actions mainly take the form of special programs. Yet, there will always be spaces and moments for spontaneous play. In this case we are talking about informal pedagogy or, as it is called in the Salesian schools, "courtyard" or "playground" pedagogy. Don Bosco himself was very attentive to this. But what characterizes this pedagogy?

A willingness to listen and an ability to inter-act and relate with others

In the family, at school, there are moments of formal education: a course, some homework to do, a program to follow ... And there are also other spontaneous, informal moments. Their strength is due to the fact that it is often the child or adolescent who starts the relationship. Their approach of trust is made possible by the quality of the adult's presence, parent or teacher, showing their willingness to listen, and the ability to weave a relationship.

Informal pedagogy is practiced in places of passage or “thru-ways”

Young people spend eight hours a day at school, but the classroom is not what they perceive as a space for living. Instead, it is a bench, a clove of grass, a playground ... It is there that they share their world and talk about what matters to them. They transmit values, they constitute a culture in perpetual evolution. They are places "in between" classes or courses, and they express a transitional space, such as adolescence itself.

For adults, a new attitude to be acquired

Some schools offer classrooms that young people can take over with their music, posters. There, teachers can pass by, be consulted. For Annick Collet, pastoral school assistant at the Notre Dame d'Annay secondary school in Lille, France, "the recreation room is the place of informal pedagogy par excellence".

Don Bosco and the presence of an adult in the playground

Don Bosco shows the importance of the presence of adults in the playground or courtyard: people who know how to animate a game or who get to know the kids as  individuals in depth, adults capable of saying a word of encouragement or warning to this or that child or teenager.

There are many reasons for teachers not to be present among children during breaks or recess. But there are also numerous means to experience moments of closeness: cultural trips, sports competitions or one's simple being there fifteen minutes in the courtyard or playground at least once a week.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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