The fourth Marist European Educational Forum took place in Toulon, in the south of France, from the 17th to the 19th of November 2014. The theme of the conference was ‘Marist Tradition and Education for freedom of thought.’
This Forum was different from the previous three in that there was a Youth Forum running parallel to the Adult Forum. On the last day they would both converge. The Youth Forum was hosted out in La Cordeille, where all the students from the different schools and countries met every day and worked on a charter which they would then present to the Adult Forum. There were at least three representatives from each school and they were kindly hosted by French families so they had a chance to practise their language skills.
The main Forum was hosted by staff from the three ‘local’ schools, Cours Fénelon (Toulon), Sainte- Marie (La Seyne –sur-mer) and Saint-Joseph, La Cordeille, (Ollioules), overseen by Mr Philippe Revello. The venue chosen was the Hotel Ibis Style right in the centre of Toulon which turned out to be a wonderful location as it was convenient to the Cathedral, the Marist Fathers’ House in Clapper St, the port and, of course, the shops.
It was a genuine opportunity for renewing and establishing relationships in the Marist education family. Quite a number of people had attended every forum held so far but there were many new faces present also.
We had very interesting presentations from a variety of inputs.
Father Bernard Bourtot, sm, gave a talk on the history of the Marists in and around Toulon which seemed to demonstrate the power of the Marist message.
This was followed by a presentation by Fr Alois Greiler, sm, on ‘The One Page Rule: Colinian Inspiration for Independent Thinking in Marist Education.’ This suggested that perhaps Father Colin was ahead of his time in terms of educational theory and practice. These talks were followed by enjoyable workshops on the emerging themes.
Following feedback from the workshops, we had a thought provoking talk from Fr Christian Salenson on ‘Christian Education on / to Freedom.’
Dinner was served in the hotel and we had the evening free.
On Tuesday morning, a short walk through the shopping centre took us to ISEN (Institut Supérieur de l’Ėlectronique et du Numérique) where we had a lecture on the use of digital technology and a tour of the premises. Then we had talks from people who have come through the institute and we saw some of their invention.
After lunch we watched Ken Robinson’s video on changing education paradigms and the rest of the afternoon was spent with each school / organisation making their presentations on how our schools can be innovative and have been innovative.
After dinner we walked to the Marist Fathers’ house in Clappier Street to hear some very striking music from the Choir of the Magridal de Provence.
Wednesday morning began with the unveiling of the new European Marist Education Logo by Fr Martin McAnaney, sm, and then the students joined us to make their presentations on how we can be innovative together. These were stimulating and challenging. The schools all signed up(literally) to working on the charter and the suggestions of the young people.
Father Huber Bonnet-Eymard, sm, then brought proceedings to a close before we boarded buses and went to a festive lunch at a lovely restaurant on the coast where we were able to appreciate the beauty of the area and the delicious food in full South of France sunshine.
Then we had the opportunity to visit one of the three schools for the afternoon.
Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral that evening which was attended by all the participants in the Forum. It was a very special occasion.
This was followed by the farewell dinner when everyone was thanked for their organisation and participation and it was an opportunity to show our appreciation to the hosts.
This very successful Forum gave the Education Committee plenty to think about for the future.
The following links take you to a record of the work done by the young people at the Forum.