AERI has always been interested in the ‘values of the Resistance movement”, a prevailing theme in the framework of our programme to acknowledge the history of the Resistance movement in each department of France .
Each ‘history of the Resistance movement at a departmental level” stresses the role that “values” have played to trigger commitment for resistance fighters, and to rally more and more volunteers, and then to establish the ethical framework in which France was to be rebuilt, after its Liberation. The Programme of the National Council of the Resistance movement’ (CNR), established on March 15, 1944 , when German occupation was at its most severe, is a good illustration of the integration of these values.
The values inherent in the Resistance movement are commonly referred to. In fact, they helped update great universal values (freedom, human rights, democracy, solidarity, justice…) but also echoed those needed by France at that time (civic spirit, peace, devotion to general interest, unselfishness, national independence…).
The Resistance movement was an excellent school for civic-mindedness and resistance fighters, as a result of their commitment, developed a spirit of sacrifice, bravery, solidarity, initiative, and so on.
This is the reason why we have sought to conduct research work in this field, as we believe that passing on such values to younger generations constitutes a service to the nation as a whole going forward. Though we recognize, of course, that we are no longer in 1944.
The modern world has given birth to new rich values which, in continuity with those inherited from the Resistance movement, can be confirmed and acted upon. We therefore decided to develop an ‘experimental programme in a few classrooms” on this issue that we rolled out in September 2002.
One of the goals of the programme is to create and evoke an ‘action commitment’ from students and to encourage them to become aware of the ‘values of today’ and sustain a project.
The first results of the programme are very positive . It is clear to us that the values of young people are based on the same principles as those defended by their elders. At the time of our sessions, the students clearly expressed recognition and strong solidarity with the ideas of the Resistance movement. It is this connection that binds them with the past generations and allows them to shape their future.
The values most often mentioned by the students as essential values are: respect, tolerance, solidarity, work and family. The first results of the experiment prove that it is by putting their ethics and commitment into practice that students are able to use, in a practical way, other values that they have developed such as: courage, perseverance, selflessness (to not necessarily need to see the results of their actions or seek recognition for their accomplishments), initiative, and the ability to pass down their knowledge to the classes that succeed them.
As a whole, we notice that students feel pride in having led a project by themselves, and in showing perseverance. They learn how to work together with students with varying cultural backgrounds. We also notice a significant improvement in classroom dynamics. Successful team work is put into practice.
As our three-year-experimental programme proved so successful, we decided to implement a full-fledged programme for the school year 2005-2006: about 70 classes have already taken part in it, and more than 140 classes will join the programme in 2006-2007.