The Officina Educativa, a state group focused on pedagogy in the schools, oversaw this collaboration and realized the production of the furniture with local manufacturers. They work with all of the schools and seem dedicated to incorporating the “Reggio Approach” within the state-mandated curriculum, which decidedly does not respond to the Reggio approach.
The Officina Educativa’s five core tenants certainly resonated:
- Subjectivity and intersubjectivity
- Learning to learn/learning for learning
The building itself was beautiful. The new school came about because of the population increase (the neighborhood doubled its population between 2006-2011), and the entire community demanded that school size and capacity be addressed. In Villa Bagno, there are two significant cultural elements: the church and the school. Community engagement in the building project extended beyond those families immediately impacted but by the community as a whole.
While the classrooms and hallways are fairly Spartan right now, the teachers told us that the building has yet to create its history; it is a space only just inhabited so the collective memory in this space is still in infancy. All those living in the school building are getting accustomed to the new space. Unlike their previous building, this one has five common spaces and they are all learning how to use these. The teachers were excited about how this was impacting their curriculum and their approach to teaching and learning.
A handful of students stay beyond the official school end for an extended day journalism program. They proudly walked us through their school and showed us the unique nooks and crannies that they had taken part in designing. From the rooftop green space to the reading corner (where they designed low tables that also serve as seats with cushions for reading, chatting, and inquiring) to the bright green bathrooms with the trough sinks, no space was of lesser value.
These young journalists gave the conference participants a questionnaire to fill out for their journalism class, and it included questions about where we are from and why we came. The last questions asked, “What will you take away with you from our school?”
What I took away from this visit was the overwhelming sense that this school is a place where children are recognized as active, competent protagonists, and the school is a place of inquiry and sharing points of view.
That is a takeaway.
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