I see these values embedded in so much of the Reggio Emilia approach to education, which explains, at least in part, why I am so connected and attached to that set of philosophies too.
One of the most remarkable features in Italy for me is the piazza. These spaces are visible in every town and city and are the physical embodiment of community, exchange, connection, and collaboration.
The architecture of the Municipal Infant-Toddler Centres and Preschools in Reggio Emilia also includes a piazza. In the schools this is a central space..."the place of encounters, friendships, games, and other activities that complete those of the classrooms". (The Hundred Languages of Children, Second Edition, p. 64)
"The piazza does more than extend the classrooms for it encourages many different encounters and activities, and we assign still other purposes to it. For us it represents the main square of the Italian city, a space where people meet, speak to one another, discuss and engage in politics, conduct business, do street theater, and stage protests. The piazza is a place of continuous passage, where the quality of exchange becomes more intense, whether among children or adults. The more they meet, the more ideas circulate among adults and children. We might say that the piazza is a place where ideas arrive and depart."
(The Hundred Languages of Children, Second Edition, p. 164-165)
As I explored the Italian piazze, and reflected on my experience of the piazze in Reggio Emilia schools in 2011, I wondered...
What is the equivalent of the piazza in my school and community?
Is there one?
What are the implications if there is not?