A French school lets cats in classrooms for calmer, happier pupils

Cat cafes, cat arcades, cat in bookstores… Felines have made their way into every aspect of our lives, so why not in the classrooms? That’s the approach taken by an independent elementary school in France.

The Candide school in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France, incorporated kittens into the school so the pupils, aged 6 to 15, could be calmer and more enthusiastic about lessons and education in general.

Founded in 2013 by former high-school teacher Michèle Bourton, the independent school group Candide welcomed children from elementary to middle school for seven years.

The school’s vocation was to help many children who could not find their place in the traditional educational system. This one-of-a-kind institution in the heart of the Vaucluse has been meticulously planned with the students’ happiness in mind.

Michèle Bourton, the director, is convinced that

” it is possible to make students, children and teens excited about the class, not only by the courses but also by the work done. “

To reach her goals, she included purr therapy in the school’s program. Burton revealed that recent research has shown that doing so can positively affect students.

 The purring of a cat is scientifically shown to increase serotonin levels in humans, the “happy hormone.” Cats may be an unexpected ally in these students’ academic careers and a source of comfort.

Besides, there’s nothing better for a group of blissful kids. As a result, in Candide, the ratio of humans to cats is around 70:10.

Felines are free to wander around the classrooms, purring and cuddling the children:

“They come in and out as they want; there is a cat flap. They have their habits”, says Michèle Bourton.

Still, the furry companions are creatures of habit; some like sleeping peacefully on the kids’ desks as they study. In that case, removing them from the copybooks page becomes an adorable challenge that students are willing to face.

A young student, Charline, told TV channel France 3:

“When I can’t manage to complete an activity, I stroke the cat, and I soon regain my attention due to it,”

Cats in classrooms: an avant-garde model

What inspired this novel approach to teaching? The founder’s personal story. Michèle Bourton endured a horrific childhood, complete with abuse, imprisonment in a cellar, and isolation.

The teacher revealed that she managed to survive her miserable upbringing thanks to pusses sneaking into her jail (the cellar) through the window. These furry companions were crucial to young Michele’s growth, providing her with love and comfort in difficult circumstances.

Michelle was finally adopted at sixteen and later enrolled in university. After finishing her degree in history and geography, she began teaching at a high school.

Michelle was finally adopted at sixteen and later enrolled in university. After finishing her degree in history and geography, she began teaching at a high school.

She became sick of having to divide her attention among too many kids and opened her own school. She decided on a small class size to recreate a familial vibe (15 children per class maximum).

Cats play an essential role in her ideal elementary school, like they did when she was a kid. Michele hopes her students will experience the same joy and comfort around these animals.

According to Michele, the furry approach profoundly impacted the children’s demeanor and performance at school. A look at the grades demonstrates that students’ GPAs have improved since they started at Candide school.

The next step

For causes beyond the control of the school’s administration, the Candide Academy closed its doors in 2019. The property’s owners were looking to sell the property where the school stood.

Since the school board could not purchase the land, the institution was closed indefinitely. But Michele Bourton had bigger plans for her novel pedagogy.

Candide International was founded rapidly. Its mission is to establish top-tier educational institutions worldwide. Animal intelligence is incorporated into the notion, making it a form of education.

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