chapter  7
27 Pages

Environments

One area in the schools of Reggio Emilia where attention to aesthetics is clearly visible is in the physical environment, not generally found in other schools. What a lot of criticism and what a lot of positive comments Reggio has received over the years on this subject from our various visitors. Reflecting on reasons for this ambivalent attitude suggests the existence of certain widespread and deeply rooted stereotypes concerning education, schooling, learning and aesthetics, and I could recount some startling examples on the theme. One I remember very well, because it was the first of many other examples, concerns a university teacher who came to Reggio Emilia to lecture on science for our professional development. Visiting the scuola comunale dell’infanzia Diana, she walked through the door, gave a quick look round the piazza inside the school (see Figure 7.1), empty because the children were in their classes and commented, ‘Do children live here then, or is it a showcase?’ I was left speechless and doubt I gave her an adequate answer because I was not prepared for that kind of objection or perception of the environment.