1989 – Bertrand Schwartz

Action first, knowledge after.

That’s one of the principles behind a job training program developed by French educator Bertrand Schwartz, whose innovations in social and vocational preparation for disadvantaged youth earned him the 1989 award.

“Knowledge only comes into the picture as required by the doing process,” Schwartz said in a 1987 lecture delivered in Berlin.

Schwartz, 70, has devoted years to creating new methods of continuing education.

He began in 1960 at the University of Nancy by establishing a training program for unskilled workers in depressed areas. The success of his experiment led the French government to create a National Institute for Adult Education.

In 1981, Schwartz developed a national network of “missions locales,” local task forces aimed at helping 400,000 unemployed youngsters. The program combined new job opportunities for unskilled and unemployed youth with on-the-job training and reorganization of the work process.

Judges for the Grawemeyer Award said Schwartz had strongly influenced adult education in a “rapidly changing industrialized world, where lifelong education has become a necessity for the individual, and where non-formal adult education has tended to become as important…as school-based formal education.”