A work in progress edited by
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)
This year, when the scars of
the First World War were still fresh in Europe, a group of progressive and peace
educators congregated in Calais, France, to create the Ligue Internationale de
l'Education Nouvelle, known in English as the World Education Fellowship (WEF).
Soon thereafter, The League
was established in more than 20 countries, under the leadership of the most
prestigious educators in those countries. Among the early members of the League
were John Dewey, Karl Jung, Jean Piaget, Alfonse Ferriere and Maria Montessori.
After the 1921 congress, the
League organized several conferences to discuss national and global issues, and
to share innovative educational projects. Some
of the topics addressed in these meetings relate to social justice, peace
education, teaching for caring, experimental learning, environmental education,
multicultural education and lifelong learning.
In 1952, Henri Wallon
reflected on the ideals that led the 1921 Calais Congress to create the Ligue
Internationale de l'Education Nouvelle in
the following terms:
Ce Congrès était le résultat du mouvement pacifiste qui avait succédé à la première guerre mondiale. Il avait semblé alors que pour assurer au monde un avenir de paix, rien ne pouvait être plus efficace que de développer dans les jeunes générations le respect de la personne humaine par une éducation appropriée. Ainsi pourraient s'épanouir les sentiments de solidarité et de fraternité humaines qui sont aux antipodes de la guerre et de la violence.
Wallon was the president of
the Groupe Français d'Education Nouvelle during the period 1946-1962, when the
scars of the
Second World War were still fresh. During the Nazi occupation, Wallon
played a key role in the Conseil National de la Résistance, and in his mandate
at the League he made an important effort to revitalize the impetus of the
Calais meeting to connect educational initiatives with
the development of a culture of peace.
The 1921 Calais Congress
represented a foundational moment for the peace education movement that would
continue growing during the remaining of the 20th century, with the
contributions of educators and leaders like Pierre Bovet, Celestin Freinet, Jane
Addams, Mahatma Ghandi, Paulo Freire, Martin Luther King and Adolfo Perez
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