For the sixth year running, it’s back to school for the Manufacto programme! With the arrival this year of two new boards of education (Reims and Orléans-Tours), some sixty-five classes across eleven boards of education in sixteen French departments are now taking part in this programme dedicated to the sharing of craft skills. Nearly 1,600 pupils in primary and secondary schools will undertake a step-by-step immersion in one of the four métiers on offer: carpentry, leatherwork, leather upholstery, and plastering.
Over the course of twelve sessions, which take place during school hours and which are overseen by teachers, the pupils get to grips with the vocabulary and tools associated with each skill before getting hands-on experience of the craft itself. The objective is for each student to produce with their own hands one of thirteen contemporary designs devised by Studio BrichetZiegler. They are accompanied, step-by-step, by an experienced craftsperson, assisted by a student in design or fine art. This unique educational experience, which also includes a visit to a workshop, takes place in the classroom, with all the necessary materials and tools on hand to enable each pupil to acquire new skills and experience the pleasure of making.
These sessions allow school subjects to be approached in a whole new way. Different classroom dynamics emerge: as unexpected talents are revealed, pupils’ relationships and self-images can change. The craftspeople transmit and share not only technical skills but their values – precision, mutual support, concentration, and respect –, which contribute to the individual development of each pupil within a shared project. At the close of the school year, the completed objects – pencil cases, stools, pouches, shelves and seats – are often personalised by their young makers, and all testify to the investment and engagement of each pupil in the creative process, as well as the pride they take in the finished product. As they discover manual craft techniques and learn new skills, the pupils gain in self-confidence, with some discovering a possible professional vocation.