Supported in Hérault by the EDF Group Foundation, the Association Seve (Knowing How to Be and Live Together) runs workshops on the philosophy and practice of mindfulness with children and adolescents. Meeting with Dorothy Berry, Southern Regional Delegate for the Society.
Can you introduce us to the Seve Association?
It was founded in 2016 by Frédéric Lenoir and Martin Russell Adam, following the attacks that marked 2015. The goal was to support children and adolescents in developing their critical thinking. We start from a note: there is a risk of a lack of hindsight in children, with social networks and a willingness to think. Moreover, our world faces new climate, environmental, social, health and ethical challenges that make the future less predictable. It is therefore necessary to equip children to help them grow in discrimination and humanity. For this purpose, the association organizes workshops with a philosophical purpose almost everywhere in France. Our challenge is to help them develop the ability to think, to judge themselves, to question the meaning of values, and to respect others in their difference.
How do these workshops work?
Organized into regional entities, Seve operates thanks to volunteers and facilitators who work in schools, from the large kindergarten department to high school. In the former Languedoc-Roussillon region, where we have 80 active facilitators, we have organized more than 1,000 workshops during the 2021-2022 school year, mainly in the political regions of the city (QPV), where the demand is greatest. These are spaces for freedom of expression, which allow children and teens to confirm their ideas, visualize, find the right words, discuss, listen and possibly change their mind. These workshops are also an opportunity to strengthen psychosocial skills, self-esteem and respect for others.
Who are your facilitators?
Not teachers of philosophy, but people from all walks of life whom we train in the art of asking questions, as well as in the practice of attention, an exercise that every workshop offers.
What topics are covered and are there taboo topics?
The topics covered are very broad and adapted to each age, of course. We can start with questions like, “Can we live on our own?” Is death the end of everything? , “Are we free?” or “What is beautiful, what is ugly?”. We deal only with philosophical subjects and try to position the children so that they do not present too much personal; It is a matter of going beyond their expertise to go toward general questions. Certain topics, such as religion or death, can be sensitive, but there are no taboo topics. We are under freedom of expression. It’s about how you handle discussions.
The EDF Group Foundation supports you under the Representation for Our Territories call for projects, in the Education category, the area you are committed to in order to promote equal opportunity. what is the project?
We were already working at the Montpellier school in the Pas-de-Loup. We had already organized about thirty workshops there and wanted to move forward to get to eleven classes. So we responded to the EDF Group Foundation’s call for projects and were selected. The €7,450 granted to us has enabled us to organize more than 110 workshops at the Foundation in 2021-2022. As a result, the impact of our actions is much stronger, both at the school and neighborhood level.
Why do you think it is wise for a local player like EDF Group to commit to education in this way?
It seems very important to me that the EDF, which is already a registered player in its territory, is concerned about what is happening there and participates at its level in the well-being of the population. It is a social responsibility that goes beyond his job.
The school year is coming to an end. What follow-up would you like to give to this Montpellier project?
First of all, together with the teachers, we will organize a small exhibition at the school in order to report on what has been done with the children. Parents will of course be associated with this event. They are very important to us, in the logic of the pedagogical alliance. And of course, we want to repeat this procedure next year.