Bernard Collot was a public school teacher and transformed his unique class into a “school of the 3rd type”. In his book The school of the 3rd type: exploring another paradigm with children , he offers tips to help trigger the movement of the gesture of writing and free the production of writing.
Bernard Collot starts from the principle that, in a single class, without scholarly method and even without method at all, all children learn to read and write. According to him, the problem of writing-reading is first of all that of the construction and existence of groups (classes, siblings, families, groups of friends, etc.) who use writing for their lives.
Preparing for the writing act
Drawing and painting are a form of self- projection . Every child should be able to draw or paint freely, without instructions, when he wants, at any time, whatever his age, without there being any value judgments made on his expression; that is to say, freed from all adult gaze.
Listen to yourself, film yourself
Filming or recording oneself in audio are forms of deferred language for the child if he can use them freely. The child will project something on a support that he can listen to (listen to himself) and make listen to shifted in time and space.
Thus, Bernard Collot had installed a recording workshop in his class. Each child could do whatever he wanted there. The children had plenty of time to listen to each other again, to fade away, to start over, to have a friend listen, to say nonsense, to laugh at their nonsense. Audio recording or video are communication media because parents, brothers and sisters or friends will want and be able to listen to it in a deferred communication process . It is in this exchange that languages have meaning.
For Bernard Collot, writing is a language that is constructed in the same way as oral language is constructed: in human interaction and for the purpose of self-projection. It is therefore essential that children see adults write for everyday life and enjoy writing . He invites adults (teachers and parents) to write poems, but even more nonsense . Teachers can even display their writings with those of the children in the classroom.
Besides, adult writing doesn’t have to be perfect. An adult can write very well even if he doesn’t write such terrible things. This is valid for the other types of language: an adult can very well dance badly but dance all the same, paint clumsily but paint all the same, sing out of tune but invent songs and sing all the same.
It is not a question of provoking admiration or displaying the model to be achieved, but of showing that the accessibility of languages lies only in their simple use.
Collot reminds us that parents who “teach” the baby to speak don’t hesitate to play tricks too. Speech comes with laughter and pleasure , acceptance and understanding of the first gibberish, corrections come later.
Automatic writing exercise
Bernard Collot suggests a game he used in his class to encourage children to write: automatic writing . It starts as a classic formal and school exercise. The adult (parent or teacher) can even “play” by imitating a serious and severe teacher by saying: “ Take a sheet and a pencil. On my signal, you must write without stopping even if it is nonsense, without thinking . The idea is that the children write whatever comes to mind, without worrying about mistakes or syntax, but above all without ever lifting the pencil during the exercise. Children have the right to write anything , even onomatopoeia. They have the right to repeat ten or twenty times the same word , if nothing else comes.
After a few minutes, the adult stops the pencils and asks everyone to look at what he has written (without the adult looking). The adult then prepares the wastebasket and tells the children to tear up their sheet and throw away what they have written. Children are likely to react with amazement, hesitation and joy.
Then it’s about doing the same thing again . The writings will again be thrown in the trash. This exercise can be repeated several times then, after a certain time, all the automatic writings will not necessarily be discarded. The children will have the choice of keeping them, having the adult read them, throwing them away, displaying them or doing what they want with them.
The objective of this exercise is to get out of the confinement that makes children believe that it is necessary to write for adults, to write properly, to write things well, to write without fail, to write after having thought a lot. Children will be able to indulge in writing, worrying only about the pleasure of writing.