We met François-Xavier Berclaz in Bratsch, on the road to Leukerbad, in Haut-Valais, Switzerland. François-Xavier Berclaz is the father of two students from gd-Schule, a school that uses the project’s pedagogy daily to develop a mountain village.
You read correctly: a school that develops a mountain village!
The absence of grades and homework makes gd-Schule unique. The whole teaching is also distinguished by an approach that systematically targets concrete achievements, mostly in the service residents of Bratsch.
And parents are not outdone. The story of François-Xavier Berclaz is exceptional. Firstly, he chose to settle with his family in Bratsch so that his two children could be enrolled in gd-Schule. Then, the story of François-Xavier Berclaz is also exceptional because it is exemplary of what can become of the relationship between parents and school in the 21st century.
In the podcast, David Claivaz talks with François-Xavier Berclaz on his experience as a parent of a student of the gd-Schule Bratsch. They discuss the moment of the choice of the school, as well as the analysis of its functioning.
At the beginning of the podcast, François-Xavier Berclaz explains the reasons for the choice of the gd-Schule Bratsch. At first, the question was difficult, because François-Xavier Berclaz and his family did not exactly know what type of school they were looking for.
The discovery of Bratsch’s gd-Schule was a revelation, but an informed revelation. François-Xavier Berclaz wanted to make sure that as a school, gd-Schule could integrate its children into the world of the future.
For François-Xavier Berclaz, the choice of an alternative school does not mean the choice of a school that prepares children for an alternative world.
Thanks to the enrollment process based on mutual learning, François-Xavier Berclaz was able to judge for himself, coming to school. It was not Damian Gsponer’s speech that convinced him, but the reality of what he saw in school.
A new school daily
After a few months of experience, François-Xavier Berclaz can share some impressions about the journey of his children, who are respectively 6 and 8 years old.
Parents can easily connect their children’s feelings with what they see directly in school life. At gd-Schule, the school-parent-student triangle has found its balance.
François-Xavier noticed in his children a great desire to go to school in the first week. The absence of homework also allows them to project themselves into the initiatives they will launch.
A school that doesn’t know the risk of Education Cliff
In the second part of the interview, David Claivaz suggests that François-Xavier Berclaz review the four elements identified at the origin of Education Cliff in the book “Edupreneurial Pivot.”
The gd-Schule model has been particularly convincing in overcoming the barriers that usually slow innovation at school.
Barrier 1: the precautionary principle.
The desire to start from the project requires an open approach, which leaves room for initiative. For François-Xavier Berclaz, this very naturally leads to a virtuous circle: children being initiated into risk, they learn to control it, and confidence grows around school projects.
Barrier 2: the silos
The project approach involves connections at multiple levels: between students, between school subjects, between teachers. The pursuit of an objective makes children curious and demanding: the dynamics of the project transport them beyond relational or intellectual separation.
Barrier 3: fear of error
The absence of notes facilitates a favorable report to the error. What matters is the value of the trial until a result is achieved in the service of the project. Without the rating barrier, children quickly overcome their apprehensions and make their proposals heard more easily.
Barrier 4: standardization for equality
François-Xavier Berclaz observes that in Bratsch, children are built by their desires and expectations, rather than by comparison. When it is not used for comparison between children, talent grows more naturally within being.
An idea to share
The quality of the experience lived by François-Xavier Berclaz’s children is above all due to the consistency of the gd-Schule Bratsch’s project. It is difficult to isolate one of the elements to make it the keystone of the pedagogy or method.
François-Xavier Berclaz, however, agreed to give himself up to the game of the end council, putting forward an idea.