The World’s Most Innovative Schools: Reggio Emilia, Italy
by Alec Patton
Michael Gove would do well to take a close look at the city of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, where parents took it upon themselves to found not just a ‘free school’, but an entire system of schools at the end of World War II, so that their children would learn a better way of living than the one that had led Italy into war by Hitler’s side. In the words of Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia’s most famous proponent,
War, in its tragic absurdity, is the kind of experience that pushes a person toward the job of educating, as a way to start anew and live and work for the future. This desire strikes a person, as the war finally ends and the symbols of life reappear with a violence equal to that of the time of destruction.
The first of Reggio Emilia’s parent-run schools were founded using cash raised by selling supplies left by the retreating German army. After the first few schools opened, Loris Malaguzzi (then working as a teacher at one of the state schools) began volunteering at the new schools, and became a driving force within them. The new schools continued to flourish, and in 1967 the municipality formally took responsibility for them, embedding them within the city’s education system. The schools are for young children (up to 6 years old). I don’t know what happens to kids in Reggio Emilia after they leave the city’s most famous schools – if anyone does know, please let me know in the comments!
The principles of the ‘Reggio Emilia approach’, as it is known, include attention to the relationship between home and school, long-term projects for children, the use of the ‘environment as teacher’, and an understanding that teachers should see themselves as researchers – principles which are not far off from our own Learning Futures.
You can read more about the principles of the Reggio Emilia approach here.
The Reggio Emilia Approach – an international project
Reggio Emilia described on the ‘Community Playthings‘ website
The Hundred Languages of Children: Reggio Emilia Approach – Advanced Reflections, ed. by C. Edwards, L. Gandani , and G. Forman (book)
Radical Education and the Common School: A Democratic Alternative, by Michael Fielding and Peter Moss (Book)
Entry filed under: Education & Children's Services.