Education in the family, education without school

Their names are Jeïdy, Kyéta, Shanty, Mélusine or even Cerberus† They are between 7 and 14 years old and have never been to school. Their parents chose to do their upbringing in the family, outside the so-called classical education system. If education is compulsory in France for children aged 3 to 16, parents can choose not to send them to school.

However, this freedom of choice is being questioned. Since August 2021, the right not to send your child to school requires an authorization request and no longer a simple “statement of family education”† In addition, the acceptance criteria have been tightened: the legal guardians of the children must prove their availability or even have a baccalaureate diploma. You need a reason “Valid” –from the point of view of the institution– drop out of school. As a result, the French state will be able to refuse requests from families from the start of the 2022 school year.

Who are these families who have chosen education outside of schools? How do they view education, instruction and the challenges? How is the fun of their children built without the playground? How do parents organize themselves and how do they adjust their days? How do they react to the change in the rules imposed on them by the state? In recent months, as a documentary photographer, I have met these families, on French soil, to try to answer these questions.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Dona, 37, and her daughter Mélusine, 7, sit in the greenhouse behind the yurt to do some exercises in the homework book. Cerbère, 9, Mélusine’s big brother, is already at work. All three have been living in a yurt in the Nièvre department for almost four years. Dona raises her two children with their father. In general, they are with their mother from Monday to Friday and with their father from Friday evening to Sunday evening. Because they live in a yurt, Dona carries out the work of the house behind it. They can live there next winter.

Melusine and Cerbé are doing exercises in geometry.  Exceptionally, the family gave themselves the rule of doing one page of exercises per week for the month of April.  Dona's children follow the

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Mélusine and Cerbère are doing geometry exercises. As an exception, the family has made the rule to do one page of exercises per week during the month of April. Dona’s children follow the “unschooling” method, which in French means “unschooling”. This concept is all about letting children discover and learn in an undirected way and at their own pace. “Unschooling” does not impose any formal knowledge.

Melusine and Cerbére work in the greenhouse.  The kids have never been there;  school.  They attend cultural workshops every Wednesday (outside school holidays).  Cerbére teaches bass and drums.  Mélusine learns about pottery and musical awakening.  Dona comes from a farming family and was the first specialist educator for about ten years.  She has a passion for pedagogy.  For her, “every family is a small educational laboratory”.  Since her installation in the yurt, she has gradually started to adapt.  little by little raising some sheep.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Mélusine and Cerbère work in the greenhouse. The children never went to school. They attend cultural workshops every Wednesday (outside school holidays). Cerbère teaches bass and drums. Mélusine is introduced to pottery and musical awakening. Coming from a farming family, Dona was first a specialist educator for about ten years. She has a passion for pedagogy. For her, “every family is a small pedagogical laboratory”† Since settling in the yurt, she has gradually started raising a few sheep.

In the yurt, Dona learns some notions of music on the ukulele;  to his daughter Melusine.  Dona is a chorister in a choir in the city.  The father of the two children is also passionate about music through and playing in a marching band.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

In the yurt, Dona teaches her daughter Mélusine some notions of music on the ukulele. Dona is a chorister in a choir in the city. The father of the two children is also passionate about music and plays in a marching band.

One of Cerberus' toys, left in a bush by the yurt.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

One of Cerberus’ toys, left in a bush by the yurt.

Shanty, 8, holds her chicken in her arms.  His family is itinerant and lives by bus.  A chicken coop has been furnished to the back of the bus for the six hens.  I met;  this family, who also have three dogs, near the Beauchastel dam, in the Drôme.  She had settled there for a few weeks.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Shanty, 8, holds her chicken in her arms. His family is itinerant and lives on the bus. A chicken coop has been set up in the back of the bus for the six chickens. I met this family, which also has three dogs, near the Beauchastel dam, in Drôme. She had settled there for a few weeks.

Vanessa, 40, and Jimmy, 43, three children, have almost always been itinerant.  They bought this bus four years ago with plans to turn it into a food truck.  They used to live in a truck.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Vanessa, 40, and Jimmy, 43, three children, have almost always been itinerant. They bought this bus four years ago with plans to turn it into a food truck. They used to live in a truck.

Jeídy, 12, Kyéta, 14 and Shanty, 8. They never went to;  school, and none of them want it.  Like Mélusine and Cerbère, all three are

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Jeïdy, 12 years, Kyéta, 14 years and Shanty, 8 years. They’ve never been to school and none of them want to. Like Mélusine and Cerbère, all three are in the “unschooling” method, the parents let them learn at their own pace, when they are ready or when they feel like it. Jeïdy likes to bake. Kyéta draws and learns magic tricks.

The view from the bus, February 18, 2022 at;  Beauchastel.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

The view from the bus, February 18, 2022 in Beauchastel.

Shanty and Jeïdy share the same room at the top of the bus.  Kyéta, the eldest, has recently been able to furnish her room in the caravan.  side off the bus.  With the help of his mother Vanessa, 40, Jeïdy does some French exercises.  He will have to take a school exam in May next year to check his performance.  Parents who choose to raise their children themselves are subject to: checks by the town hall and government education.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Shanty and Jeïdy share the same room at the top of the bus. Kyéta, the eldest, has recently been able to furnish her room in the caravan next to the bus. With the help of her mother Vanessa, 40, Jeïdy does some French exercises. He will have to take a school exam in May next year to check his performance. Parents who choose to raise their children themselves are subject to checks by the town hall and the National Education.

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