- Freinet redirects here, there is also a village La Garde-Freinet in the French Arrondissement of Draguignan (Var)
Freinet was born in Provence as the fifth of eight children. His own schooldays were deeply unpleasant to him and would affect his teaching methods and desire for reform. In 1915 he was recruited into the French army and was wounded in the lung, an experience that led him to becoming a resolute pacifist.
In 1920 he became an elementary schoolteacher in the village of Le Bar-sur-Loup. It was here that Freinet began to develop his teaching methods. He married Élise Lagier in 1926.
In 1923 Freinet purchased a printing press, originally to assist with his teaching, since his lung injury made it difficult for him to talk for long periods. It was with this press he printed free texts and class newspapers for his students. The children would compose their own works on the press and would discuss and edit them as a group before presenting them as a team effort. They would regularly leave the classroom to conduct field trips. The newspapers were exchanged with those from other schools. Gradually the group texts replaced conventional school books.
Freinet created the teachers' trade union C.E.L. (Coopérative de l'Enseignement Laïc) in 1924, from which arose the French teacher movement Modern School Movement (Mouvement de l'École Moderne). The goal of the C.E.L was to change public education from the inside with the co-operation of teachers.
Freinet's teaching methods were at variance with official policy of the National Education Board, and he resigned from it in 1935 to start his own school in Vence.
Concepts of Freinet's pedagogy
- Pedagogy of work (pédagogie du travail): pupils were encouraged to learn by making products or providing services.
- Enquiry-based learning (tâtonnement expérimental): group-based trial and error work.
- Cooperative learning (travail coopératif): pupils were to co-operate in the production process.
- Centres of interest (complexe d'intérêt): the children's interests and natural curiosity are starting points for a learning process
- The natural method (méthode naturelle): authentic learning by using real experiences of children.
- Democracy: children learn to take responsibility for their own work and for the whole community by using democratic self-government.
Freinet's work lives on in the name of Pédagogie Freinet, or the Modern School Movement, practised in many countries worldwide.
The Freinet classification ("To organise everything") is used in the libraries of some elementary schools, and was invented by Célestin Freinet to facilitate the easy finding of documents, and the use of the "Bibliothèque de travail".
The Institut universitaire de formation des maîtres (teacher training university) of Nice bears the name of Célestin Freinet.
Modern School Movement
The Modern School Movement or Mouvement de l'École Moderne, based on the practices of the Freinets, has become an international network of educators and schools. In 1957, the International Federation of Modern School Movements (FIMEM) was founded to organize national groups around the world. They hold an international congress every two years to coordinate work and exchange ideas.
- 1946: L'École Moderne Française.
- 1994: Œuvres pédagogiques, 2 vols. Paris: Seuil. (Edited by Madeleine Bens-Freinet, introduction par Jacques Bens:
- Tome 1 : L’éducation du travail [1942-1943] - Essai de psychologie sensible appliquée à l’éducation .
- Tome 2 : L’école moderne française [1943. Autre titre : Pour l'école du peuple, 1969] - Les dits de Matthieu  - Méthode naturelle de lecture  – Les invariants pédagogiques  - Méthode naturelle de dessin - Les genèses.
- Touché ! Souvenirs d'un blessé de guerre, récit, Ateliers du Gué, 1996.
- Freinet, C. (1993) Education Through Work: a model for child-centered learning; translated by John Sivell. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press ISBN 0-7734-9303-4 ISBN 9780773493032
- Fédération internationale des Mouvements de l’École moderne (FIMEM)
- Louis Legrand (1993). "Célestin Freinet" (PDF). Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative education. XXIII 1/2: 303–418.
- Acker, Victor: Celestin Freinet. Greenwood Press, 2000. ISBN 0-313-30994-9
- Freinet, C.: Education through work: a model for child centered learning; translated by John Sivell. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993. ISBN 0-7734-9303-4
- Bronkhorst, John (2007). "Célestin Freinet". Hengelo: Edith Stein school of education.
- H-L. Go, Freinet à Vence. Vers une reconstruction de la forme scolaire, Rennes, PUR, 2007.
- Guy Goupil, Comprendre la pédagogie Freinet. Genèse d'une pédagogie évolutive, Mayenne, Éditions des Amis de Freinet, 2007.
- Michel Barré, Célestin Freinet, un éducateur pour notre temps, 2 tomes, PEMF, 1995 et 1996.
- Nicholas Beattie, N. "The Freinet movements of France, Italy, and Germany, 1920-2000 : versions of educational progressivism", Lewiston, N.Y. ; Lampeter, E. Mellen Press, 2002.
- Patrick Boumard, Célestin Freinet, Paris, PUF, 1996.
- Henri Peyronie, Célestin Freinet. Pédagogie et émancipation, Paris, Hachette éducation, 1999.
- Alain Vergnioux, Cinq études sur Célestin Freinet, Caen, PUC, 2005. (bibliographie complétée le 2 mai 2010)
- Ginette Fournès, Sylvia Dorance, La danseuse sur un fil: une vie d'école Freinet, Éditions École Vivante, 2009 
- Website on the history of Freinet Pedagogy at the Wayback Machine (archived October 9, 2011)
- Database for Literature Freinet-Pedagogy with languagefiles