Who is Reuven Feuerstein?
Professor in educational psychology, Reuven Feuerstein (1921-2014) collaborated with Jean Piaget and André Rey (the inventor of the famous “figure of Rey”) who influenced him as well as researchers like Vygotsky and Guilford. He creates a particular approach that differs from that of Piaget who is too fixative because he believes in the cognitive modifiability of the individual.
The approach in a nutshell
The approach was first implemented to help “deficient” children in the sense that their cognitive capacities would be impaired (eg children with behavioral and attention disorders). It is now used with “normal” children (and adults) to help them develop and optimize their cognitive functions.
By improving these deficient, poorly developed or poorly activated cognitive functions, we help children to better manage their behaviors, emotions, autonomy and adjustment to the demands of the outside world and to achieve general well-being.
Thanks to the Feuerstein method, it is possible to take charge of learning and development disorders (remediation) or better still to set up the bases (education) which will allow children to develop their learning capacities.
This approach is, in a way, the basis of other pedagogical approaches such as Montessori and Freinet.
Let us take an example: in Montessori pedagogy, the way of “asking for the floor” is the subject of a presentation by the educator to the children (a kind of mediation). Waiting to speak is difficult for children and is the subject of training at Montessori. However, this pedagogy did not perceive that this underpinned the management of a cognitive function: Feurerstein spoke of the management of impulsivity (cognitive function) vs regulation of behavior (mediation criterion).
We can see how these two approaches are complementary!
This notion joins that of cerebral plasticity put forward by neurosciences. It expresses the fact that there are no fixed stages of development but that the brain changes and adapts structurally on the condition of receiving an appropriate “mediation” and of being in a favorable “environment”.
A mediated learning experience
Learning is taken in the broad sense and goes beyond disciplinary, academic or educational content: it is mediated. It is a direct relationship between a “mediator” who guides, and a “mediated” who learns: for example a teacher and a pupil or a parent and his child. There are criteria that make it possible to define the quality of the relationship between the one who transmits and the one who learns.
A changing environment
Feuerstein had already seen what Olivier Houdé expresses in his work “the brain school”: “traces of the environment, artistic and cultural, are imprinted almost directly on the brain. (…) Education in the family or at school must therefore ensure that the children's brains are exposed as a priority to beauty ”. The environment is as important as education. This is also what Maria Montessori said.
Feuerstein has created a method and tools to enable quality mediation:
- 12 mediation criteria which define what the interaction between a “mediator” and a “mediator” must be for there to be truly “mediation”. Three criteria of mediation are essential: reciprocal intentionality, transcendence, meaning (meaning and direction);
- A list of deficient cognitive functions, which identifies and names the possible dysfunctions of the mental act according to its three phases, the entry of the elements composing a situation, the elaboration of a thought from these collected data and the rendering of 'answer ;
- A cognitive map: a 7-point checklist for analyzing a learning situation and its supports.
The Feuerstein approach is resolutely modern. It allows children to develop their cognitive capacities and in particular their executive functions necessary for all learning and proper development.
We will integrate the Feuerstein approach into the school in addition to the Montessori, Freinet and Gattegno pedagogies.