Emmanuel ran a start-up. He dumped everything for his daughter who was depressed at school. He himself leads the education of his three children in a secluded place south of Haute-Garonne at the foot of the Pyrenees. Story of a radical life change.
A beautiful white light floods the meadow where alpacas and donkeys graze around a watering hole. In the distance, the Pyrenees bathe in a cream-colored halo. Solar ovens facing south are placed in front of each yurt in Ecolectif, a community of around forty people who live independently.
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Haute-Garonne: “The green momentum”, the Comminges school off the beaten track
They established their community on the heights of Gensac-de-Boulogne, a tiny town in Comminges. The children are not educated in a traditional structure. They are educated either in a non-contract school using iconoclastic educational methods (see opposite), or at home.
Emmanuel chose homeschooling for his three children. He did this initially for the welfare of his eldest daughter. This former boss of a biotechnology start-up in the Lille region, now a sheep breeder, points out what was the trigger: “Our little one had learned by herself to decipher the words by looking at the stickers on the fridge. We then accompanied her in her desire to learn. Result before being in CP, she already knew how to read. In class, it was difficult. The teacher made the words spell too repetitively for her. We realized that in reality she was unlearning to read. It made her unhappy, she was sad as the rain! We tried to put her in dual grade classes but it didn’t work. At eight years old, she was really depressed, the doctor had suggested that we prescribe her anxiolytics. With her mother, we said to ourselves that we had to deal with the cause of her discomfort by taking her out of school. »
For their daughter, Emmanuel and his wife are making a radical change of life by leaving the north of France to join Ecolectif, whose first members have settled for around ten years on the heights of Gensac-de-Boulogne. They educate their three children there themselves in a natural setting, far from the noise of the big cities. Inside their hut covered with windows that give a 360-degree view of the landscape, a large library on which sits prominently a photo of Pope John Paul II and a statuette of the Blessed Virgin.
“Our family doctor had suggested anxiolytics…”
“At the start, we were neither fierce ecologists nor anti-globalizationists, it was our daughter’s distress that pushed us to leave our old life. Then there was a domino effect. I discover that my children can experience something other than school. And I see that all this allows me to be closer to nature, with a different, deeper relationship to time and to others. Before, I worked a lot, I didn’t see my children much. And when I was with them, it wasn’t satisfying because I was preoccupied or tired of my job, not really listening,” analyzes Emmanuel.
With his companion, they take it in turns to teach their children the basic knowledge required by National Education (see box). The breeder details a typical day: “It’s very tight. The morning is devoted to formal learning, maths and French in particular. Then we all prepare lunch and dinner together. In the afternoon, it’s free time. The children go about their business with their friends, but don’t think they live in a ghetto. For example, my three children go to the dance, they rub shoulders with school children. They also regularly see their cousins who follow a traditional curriculum. If one day one of them wants to join a school, we will not oppose it. »