The death of Guy Avanzini, a pioneer in the sciences of education

Founder of the education sciences section at Lyon 2 University, he has devoted numerous works to pedagogy. He passed away on October 18, at the age of 93.

Guy Avanzini, during an interview organized by the Don Bosco publishing house, in 2021.

The sciences of education are in mourning. Guy Avanzini, one of the pioneers of educational sciences in France, died on Tuesday October 18, at the age of 93, in Aix-les-Bains (Savoie). Born July 7, 1929 into a modest family, he trained in social Christianity in Lyon. After studying philosophy and pedagogy, he was professor of educational psychology at the Ecole Normale d’Instituteurs de Lyon, from 1955 to 1965. Professor at Lyon 2 University from 1965, he was also the founder of the Education Sciences section.

A specialist in the history of pedagogical ideas and the philosophy of education, he devoted his 3rd cycle thesis to the pedagogue Alfred Binet (1857-1911). It will be published by Vrin in 1969. Alfred Binet will follow. Psychological and pedagogical writings (Privat, 1975), then the reference work Alfred Binet (PUF, 1999).

Guy Avanzini becomes president of the Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon Company. Coming from the Free Society for the Psychological Study of the Child (Slepe), born in 1900 during the practical pedagogy conference directed by Ferdinand Buisson – then holder of the chair of Educational Science at the Sorbonne (1896- 1902) – the Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon Society published an important newsletter for educational communities. Soon to be fully digitized for Persée, the oldest education journal, continued today under the title Recherches & éducations , will be available from 2023-2024.

More than 70 supervised theses

Guy Avanzini had examined Le Temps de l’adolescence and L’Echec scolaire (University editions, 1965 and 1967) before May 1968 and anticipated with his doctoral thesis in Letters entitled Immobilisme et innovation dans l’éducation scolaire (Privat, 1975) the challenges of the transformation of the school and the public faced with what will be described as the massification of the college. It takes stock of the significant title of the passages at the Ministry of Education of Alain Savary (1981-1984) and Jean-Pierre Chevènement (1984-1986) in the famous School from yesterday to tomorrow: illusions of a politics to the politics of illusions (Erès, 1991).

With more than 70 supervised theses in the sciences of education, the figure of Guy Avanzini is primarily associated with the place he has taken in the promotion of the sciences of education and with his own work. He was part of the generation of the “founders”, with Gaston Mialaret, Louis Not, Marcel Postic, Jean-Claude Filloux, Gilles Ferry, Philippe Meirieu, Pierre Arnaud, but also the new generations currently in place in our universities such as Alain Mougniotte, Eric Binet, Annie Cardinet, Daniel Favre , Dominique Fly, Jean-Pierre Gaté, François Hochepied, Madeleine Neyret… Leading works on the history of education, Christian pedagogy, student loss, models of lifelong education, mental management, affectivity in the pedagogical relationship, juvenile delinquency, the contribution of neuroscience in education…

Guy Avanzini showed the anthropological significance of the discovery of the permanent educability of the human being

Adult education (Anthropos, 1996) bears witness to its search for educational alternatives with the experience of cooperative colleges, the first of which was founded by the sociologist Henri Desroche (1914-1994). Endeavoring to distinguish its various components and to clarify the corresponding terminology, it shows the anthropological significance of the discovery of the permanent educability of the human being. Elucidating the difficulties, intentional, psychological and others, which his request for education nevertheless comes up against, he indicates the conditions under which success is suspended.

A Christian scholar, he studied Salesian pedagogy, deepening the sources of this pedagogy and updating the original intentions of Don Bosco (1815-1888).

In 2001, he co-directed with René Cailleau, Anne-Marie Audic and Pierre Pénisson the Historical Dictionary of Christian Education in French . Philosopher of education, he defends the educability of all: critical of cultural inequalities and scientific ideologies that still want to reduce intelligence to only natural data.

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