(ANS – Bailleul) – How can we give meaning to the commitment of students in vocational schools? One possible answer is given by the staff of the Sainte Marie Professional Institute in Bailleul. This was formerly a Salesian school and still follows the pedagogy of Don Bosco. Students and teachers are working together on a specific project, entrusted to them by the town of Bailleul: to turn a former orphanage into a music school.
What is the project?
The goal is to turn a former orphanage, a building of about 800 sq. m, which has been abandoned for ten years, into an inter-municipal music school. We are offering students the opportunity to work on the restructuring, following all the phases of a real project. Students start from the request of the customer, the town of Bailleul, and do all the different phases, providing a comprehensive and detailed documentation of technical solutions. During these steps, each student can decide when he feels ready and if he so wishes. Some of the work will be evaluated for professional certificates in “Construction Studies” and “Structural Technician”. In the classroom, all activities are conducted as on a building site and assessments take place in work situations.
Why have you taken this initiative?
When they come to a vocational school the majority of the students have had the experiences of dropping out of school. These students have low self-confidence and an adversarial relationship with the school and with adults. The creation of an active, global educational and pedagogical strategy, which develops over three years, is therefore essential, and immersion in a real situation helps a lot. (…)
Our educational and pedagogical strategy is the result of 10 years of work and constant revisions. The Laboratory of Pedagogic Innovation of the University “du Littoral-Côte-d’Opale” was interested in the project with a view to replicating it in their courses.
How is the course structured?
In the first year, we try to establish a relationship of mutual trust between students and teachers and among the students themselves. This is a key step. The following year, the relationship of trust will turn into a kind of tutor relationship, which aims to empower students to achieve progressively a professional position in their respective fields. In the final year, the teacher’s role changes. He becomes almost an adviser who accompanies the members of the team in the production of a professional job. In this way, at the end of the course, students are very aware of their skills and where they will find a job.