In response to questions and comments from the readers of Journal Le Soir following the groundbreaking ceremony which took place for the start of the works on Tuesday, the Journal spoke with Pierre Thibault, the architect of the project.
Among other things, Mr. Thibault answered the questions raised by the cost of the Lab-École de Rimouski.
“We started this project four years ago. The project has also grown, the four-year-old kindergartens were not there: we added four kindergartens. We know that kindergarten costs 1 million, so that’s already four million more. And the construction costs are phenomenal. The schools, even if they are not from Lab-School are under the same upward pressure, so we have nothing to do with this cost increase. »
However, he assures that there should not be another price increase: “It’s a fixed price contract, otherwise we undertake to do it at that price so it is contractually bound so it cannot have rises. »
Build rather than renovate
Many readers were also wondering why invest in the design of such a project, rather than concentrating on renovating the schools already present in the territory of Rimouski.
“There are 500 children in the new school. And we have created a laboratory, so we want to experiment with new ways of teaching. We looked at the best practices around the world and in Quebec and we said to ourselves: how to reinvent the school? So it is certain that reinventing the school in an already existing school is not easy. We are not saying that the existing schools should be demolished, far from it, but we realized that there was a new neighborhood and we want the children to walk to school. It is extremely important in their education that the children, ideally, go to a neighborhood school and that they can walk there. This entire sector of Rimouski has developed, so that’s why they needed a school there. »
“We don’t want the children to take the bus, it costs a fortune per child. This emits greenhouse gases, the children are seated while the children who arrive on foot, it is in a better position to learn. For healthy lifestyle habits, it is important. It was also the idea to say: we are going to demonstrate that more spaces to collaborate, more spaces to eat, to move, that will create the best living environment for children. So you are lucky in Rimouski to have an innovative school, which shows the way with its new pedagogies so you have a School Service Center which seeks the most advanced in terms of pedagogy to promote the educational success of children. »
Another reader underlined the fact that a child who attends the Lab-École and then ends up at the Langevin school or the Saint-Jean school, would risk being destabilized by the difference between the two places.
“What we want is to allow children to develop their full potential. We want to arm them, precisely, as much as possible to face life. So I think that if he had the chance to work in a context like that, his training will take him further so I don’t think that a child like that who will go to another school, he will have been well prepare. This is also education.
He adds that the concept of the Lab-École, everywhere in Quebec, is based on the principle of innovation:
“We have a group of researchers from four universities who will measure the positive impact on children. So we’re going to see how having a new pedagogy, having appropriate spaces for children, with a large yard and more nature, what the positive impact is. We do that for all of Quebec. We will choose furniture that will be more appropriate. So this school is a locomotive. She will be among the locomotives of Quebec to show the best ways of doing things. We are going to measure these ways of doing things with educational researchers and then say, in what we have done, we will probably not have 100%. There are things or arrangements that we will have made which will have been very positive and others less so and these studies will be used to design the next schools. We are moving towards innovation and I think that is what is important. »
Research work provided
Not only does the Lab-School team call on researchers to measure the positive impact of its project after the fact, but it has also studied and listed 2000 around the world to get an idea of the appropriate procedure to follow.
“The main group is made up of researchers from UQAM in Montreal. There are also people from Université Laval, from UQTR and we also have two universities, Cergy near Paris and the other in Switzerland, but I forget the name of the university. So it is recognized researchers who are going to start with the Lab-École de Québec, which is finished this year and for a few years they are going to study all that and gradually they are going to share their data, to have the conclusive data, to know what are the best arrangements we have made. They are 18 researchers. »
“In fact we have identified 2000 studies worldwide. Ms. Louise Clément is a researcher at Laval University in the Department of Foundations and Practices in Education. What we are going to look for are good practices. In Quebec, abroad, we want to know what is best. So these people in pedagogy looked through the studies which showed that there were better spin-offs. We know that a child who has more natural light, better ventilation is in better conditions and has better results. That’s all the studies we do. And we went to see the projects in Scandinavia, in Sweden, in Finland. »
The Finnish model
“These people in Finland have better results in international tests than us. So we’ll see there, what did they do that favored better educational success and is it transposable? It is in this spirit that we are going to look for the best examples in the world because we say, we also want to become the best in the world, what do we have to do for that. And there are examples from Quebec in areas where we have done well so we want to take good examples everywhere to ensure that in Rimouski there is all the information to go in the best direction. »
“For example, we have developed a principle of a schoolyard where there are outdoor spaces, outdoor classrooms, so what we want to show is that the playground – we made a publication – in there – it’s that designing the playground of tomorrow, well, the lessons we’re going to do there will certainly have a positive impact on the lessons of all the other schools in Rimouski and the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, so people will see a good example and they will be able to see the impact it has on the children. We are seeing the new furniture because we are talking about differentiated teaching, it takes new furniture and there will be new furniture in this school, but this new furniture could be in all the other schools as well. What we want is to set a good example and perhaps that will lead over time to modifying, to redeveloping the existing schools elsewhere in Rimouski and in the Bas-Saint-Laurent. So what we want is for everything that is there then to be used to migrate to go to others. It won’t be in one or two years, but over five, ten years, gradually we want these good practices to be not just in the Lab-School school, but in all the schools in the region. »
Inequality between students?
To conclude, when questioned about the disparity that the Lab-École can create, Pierre Thibault is of the opinion that it is a process.
“Eventually yes, for a few years they will be better off, but they will serve as an example for all the schools in Quebec so at some point we have to do one, two or three because if we don’t go there, we don’t evolve so it takes a few who are ahead of the parade to guide the others”.
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A Lab-École founder defends his project | Evening Newspaper
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