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New pedagogical approaches: an objective look

Yves Reuter, renowned didactician and professor at the University of Lille 3, presents his vision of new pedagogical approaches in a school context.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017 at the Villa Arson of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Yves Reuter, renowned educationalist and professor at the University of Lille 3, presented his vision of new pedagogical approaches in a school context.

Why change the pedagogical approach?

For Reuter, the school must "build bridges and not ditches". He denounces the
partitions that exist between subjects, between teachers, with parents, etc. He talks about the school as being an inclusive environment in every sense of the word.

He also denounces the fact that the school spends its time answering questions that
pupils do not ask themselves, while neglecting to answer those which they ask themselves!

Finally, life at school must be real life and not a succession of decontextualized activities on a daily basis. Indeed, we must stop being in "simulation" mode in the issues that are addressed. Today's young people often have to extract themselves from reality to place themselves in an academic posture that stands out from their real world.

Wondering about what he calls "new pedagogies", Reuter maintains that there are
has basically three reasons why teachers choose to turn the
back to classical or traditional approaches to teaching:

    1. Personal reasons why teachers' principles change. As a result of reflective practice and questioning, they frequently realize that with the same approaches, they find themselves confronted with the same problems, often at the same time, and this year after year.
    2. Traditional education does not adapt well to the new realities of today's classroom. The latter is no longer homogeneous and school relations have changed greatly. Moreover, the positive effects of traditional education seem to be diminishing to give way to boredom, dropping out of school, wasting time and the simple presenteeism of the pupil.
    3. The interest of alternative practices more centered on the needs of the pupil seem to be better experienced by the main stakeholders, in this case the learners.

Why might the new approaches work?

Skeptical at heart and refusing any promotion or fanaticism in support of a
approach or another, Reuter nevertheless sets out explanatory milestones expressing the reasons for which the new pedagogies, which he also calls "active pedagogies" or
“Alternative pedagogies” could potentially work in the classrooms of
teachers who adopt them:

  • Any pupil is fundamentally capable of learning, as long as the educational environment offers favorable conditions for this learning;
  • We are reducing the number of restrictive rules of life imposed on students (which he denounces in passing) such as the ban on drinking, going to the toilet, talking to each other, etc .;
  • Teachers demanding of students would encourage students to be demanding of themselves as well;
  • We often find the implementation of reflexivity and metacognitive strategies;
  • The role of parents is often recognized and valued;
  • There is room for error. The classroom becomes a safe environment for learning, free from humiliation and intimidation related to the difficulties encountered during learning. We respect the learning rhythms.

Why might the new approaches not work?

Reuter cites a series of elements that could prevent new pedagogical approaches from working:

  • The political dimension is predominant in education, and our governments have the power to impose policies or reforms that could undermine initiatives;
  • They are often the object of a media treatment that is decontextualized and incoherent in relation to the practices which really take place in the field;
  • They can be the object of union resistance, because they sometimes go against acquired rights;
  • Disciplinary content is sometimes sold off in favor of transversal skills;
  • Organizational culture can act as a brake on their establishment;
  • Parents are sometimes misinformed and can be intrusive if they do not fully understand what is going on in the classroom. Reuter stresses the importance of keeping parents well informed about the school process.

In conclusion, Reuter emphasizes his posture as a researcher in his analysis, which he tries to make objective. It therefore sets out elements in support of these new pedagogical approaches while remaining lucid and able to identify what is likely to stumble.


This article is part of a series published by our author and collaborator Marc-André Girard, as part of his participation in the Laboratory of innovation and digital in education (LINE) at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.

You can read all the articles in this series here.

About the Author

Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard
Marc-André Girard holds a bachelor's degree in social studies education (1999), a master's degree in history education (2003), a master's degree in education management (2013) and a doctorate in education (2022). He specializes in school-based change management and educational leadership. He is also interested in the 21st century competencies to be developed in education. He is a principal in a public high school and gives conferences on educational leadership, pedagogical approaches, change in schools and the professionalization of teaching. He has participated in educational expeditions in France, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Morocco. In September 2014, he published the book "Le changement en milieu scolaire québécois" with Éditions Reynald Goulet and, in 2019, he published a trilogy on the 21st century school with the same publisher. He is a frequent contributor to L'École branchée on educational issues. He is very involved in everything that surrounds the professional development of teachers and principals as well as the integration of ICT in education. In March 2016, he received a CHAPO award from AQUOPS for his overall involvement. He is a recipient of the Régent-Fortin 2022 scholarship awarded by ADERAE for the significant contribution of his doctoral studies to the development of practice and knowledge in educational administration.

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