The Institut Bois Robert - Since 1968

Mission and Aims

Founded in 1968, the conception of the Institut Bois Robert dates back to the beginning of the 1960s, a particularly eventful period in terms of social reforms leading to the 1968 demonstrations.

A decade was enough to shake off the basis of the French Department of Education and to elaborate new educational principles, for better or for worse.

A young headmaster in 1963, Jean Patier, founder of the Institut Bois Robert, had acquainted himself with the famous British Public Schools. And referring to the great 18th century reformer Thomas Arnolds, he believed in opening a school in France where pupils would be educated likewise.

“The Institut reaches out and deserves this beautiful name of a free school insofar as our education is based upon Truth, Good and Wisdom. We are also free to pride ourselves with those golden rules which are the balanced and harmonious acquisition of knowledge together with the art of considering the educational task as a whole, encompassing the education of mind, body, heart and courage” Jean Patier said in front of a crowd of parents, academic and political authorities present at the 10th anniversary of the Institut Bois-Robert.

“Ten years to get a reputation is not very long,” answered one of the parents, Honorary President of university. "Its fame is grand, and increases every year. A few conversations with some parents or former pupils are enough to be aware of the high satisfactory level achieved by the Institut Bois-Robert.

One may wonder about the reasons of such a success at a time when academic curricula, teachers, primary schools, high schools and universities are the targets of many critics, no matter how different they may be. The loveliness of the premises and the approach of the discipline are no strangers to this success, and would alone qualify the Institut Bois Robert as an excellent school. Yet it is just more than this. It is a real school where one is taught, trained and educated.

Teaching consists in transmitting the knowledge and experience gained by the previous generations and therefore enables the young to apprehend the world in a sounder way. Training permits the youngsters to make the most of their strengths by helping them develop and challenge their skills.

Educating favours the passage from childhood into adulthood by working on the acquisition of intellectual, moral and social values. Inasmuch as they give priority to man and not to the collective organisation, there are two fundamental aspects of a given educational ideal.

  • the first one is the harmonious and balanced acquisition of knowledge, abilities and inter-personal skills.
  • the second one is to consider the educational task as a whole that encompasses the education of mind, body, heart and courage.

Whatever its philosophical inspirations may be, any humanist school system is based upon these two fundamental aspects of educational wisdom, from Plato to Gaston Berger, not to mention Montaigne, Rousseau and Jules Ferry. Not to mention the Institut Bois Robert.

It seems to me that these are precisely the means used by the staff working at the school, spurred on by their passionate and energetic headmaster. It is the significance of these purposes that guide their work and explain their success.”

Devoted to their tasks, caring for every child and faithful to their principles at the core of the moral contract binding the school, the pupil and his family, the teachers of the Institut Bois Robert know how to use proven means and traditional learning strategies together with modern and new methods of teaching. This balance is precious to the school and a key element to its success.

At the Institut, we are far from the educational anarchy of ongoing experiments on children or a certain carelessness that both some private and state schools have practised for over a decade.

On that matter as well Bois Robert is a true secular school, privileging the individual freedom and responsibility, thus favouring tolerance, open-mindedness and a concern for other, as well as the choice of one’s faith and the respect of both the child and his family.

These are the reasons why the son of a primary school teacher - himself a teacher and married to a teacher, both working in the state system and deeply believing in secular education – has chosen to entrust his children’s education to the Institut Bois Robert despite the financial effort they had to make. “It is because here we can see some progress every week that I’ve agreed to testify, and hopefully it will be of some use to other families.”

This liberty is first the parents’ who decide where their children should be educated, and the children’s themselves who agree to the educational principles of the Institut. It is then the teachers’ who favour the values and the teaching approach of the school they have chosen to work in. It is lastly the headmaster’s who is in charge and takes care of the running of the Institut, especially in the respect of the moral contract that binds the parents, the pupils and the teachers.

Forty-five years have gone by and the Institut Bois Robert has evolved. Nevertheless the motto “With Determination Comes Rewards” and the values of the school are just the same, as summed up in the founder’s wish during the traditional ceremony in May 1985 while addressing his pupils “Tie up to your chariot a star like the one emblazoned on your uniform and may your life be full of the devouring passion of the ancient city Guillaume Budé said it was suspended under the sky and above the base acts of the world.”