19th century and early 20th century: From the democratic upsurge to the trend of pedagogical reflections
At the end of the 19th century school curricula included the physical and natural sciences, history and geography (laws of Guizot and Duruy).
Modern secondary education, consisting of modern languages and applied sciences, was founded in 1847. Five years later, programs were divided into two main branches, leading to a classic and a modern bachelor course. Specialized secondary education, consisting of modern languages, commercial law and mathematics, was legitimized in 1865.
The first Higher Normal School for training teachers of primary level was founded in 1810. By 1835 seventy-three Higher Normal Schools were created. In 1889 teachers became civil servants paid by the state.
A quarter of educators mobilized during the First World War did not return from the battlefield, which led to the pronounced feminization of the teaching profession.
Mentoring declined and remained for rich families distrustful of schools.
Mutual learning introduced by the Society for Elementary Education evolved as a learning tool. It involved direct participation of children at a more advanced level than others. It helped quickly teach literacy but remained superficial and required excessive mechanization of lessons.
Simultaneous instruction became widespread and after 1840 replaced mutual learning . It made it possible to teach from 20 to 50 students at a time, by grouping students of the same level. The period of compulsory schooling increased and illiteracy decreased.
Many teachers made a critical impact on the education environment: Pestalozzi, Owen, Froebel, Maria Montessori, Decroly, Freinet, Makarenko, Andrew Bell, J. Lancaster, Dewey, and Steiner.
Teacher Adolphe Ferrières and psychologist Edouard Claparède founded the Rousseau Institute in 1912. In 1921 Adolphe Ferrière created the International League of New Education. The concept of New Education inspired the Dewey pedagogy: the child is active and sociable. Before the Second World War, congresses of this League enabled many educators to meet, including Maria Montessori, Célestin Freinet, Gisele de Failly, Roger Cousinet, Edouard Claparède. Jean Piaget studied cognitive processes in children and developed the pedagogy of social constructivism.
In France: primary education was extensive. In 1823 the Ministry of National Education was created. In 1828 Madame de Pastoret opened the first crèche. The first orphan asylum was founded in 1825, an educational institution for young children that would become preschool institutions in 1833.
In 1848, there were 63,000 schools. This required an even greater intervention by the state and resulted in the secularization of schools. The laws of Jules Ferry and Paul Bert allowed to organize the elementary school into how it exists today. The principles of compulsory and secular education were determined and implemented in the Third Republic.
After 1879 the development of secondary education accelerated. In 1850 the Constitution detailed the right to freely establish private schools. The Law of Camille Sée of 1800 established secondary education for women. In the early 20th century, secondary education was made equal for men and women. Around 1830 education became free up to grade 4 and this was then applied to secondary education as well. During the period of liberalization, the idea of a unified special school seemed inevitable.
Vocational and technical education developed. First private practical schools appeared, then schools for arts and crafts, and finally, practical schools for trade and industry. The number of evening courses for workers was growing. The Astier Act defined the status of technical education.
After-school education was established since it was recognised that education was the work of a lifetime.
The structure of higher education changed, faculties of law and medicine, laboratories and conservatory were set up. The Second World War drove scientific cooperation and, in 1944, the National Centre for Scientific Research was created.
The second French Revolution of 1848 promoted democratic ideas that favoured longer and, where possible, free basic education. At the end of the First World War many ideas in the field of education were discussed, especially due to the Fellows of the New School and the ideological dispute of a unique school. Free secondary education, the extension of the period of compulsory schooling until the age of fourteen, the project of vocational guidance represented fundamental progress. Nevertheless, availability of education depended on the social background, was intended for a small percentage of the young population and was insufficient to ensure professional direction.
Key concepts and important figures:
Mutual learning, New education, Active pedagogy, Montessori method, Steiner-Waldorf pedagogy, group pedagogy, pedagogy of social constructivism, Madame de Pastoret, Jules Ferry, Paul Bert, Pestalozzi, Owen, Froebel, Maria Montessori, Decroly, Freinet, Makarenko, Andrew Bell, J. Lancaster, Dewey, Adolphe Ferrière, Gisèle de Failly, Roger Cousinet, Edouard Claparède.
Further readings (in French):
Vial Jean, « L'Education en France et à l'étranger de 1848 à 1945 », Histoire de l'éducation, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, «Que sais-je ?», 2009.