The Loris Malaguzzi International Centre
A cultural credit, which has grown over time, is leading us to cross the boundaries of school and extend into the spaces of childhood in general. Many of the most recent requests for collaboration have come from outside school environments and take us into the world of sensitive, culturally advanced industry. We have pedagogically supervised and supported ranges of furnishings for childhood, Atelier3 and Play+ (discussed in Chapter 7) and, where used, these have truly altered school landscapes and public spaces for children. Professional development initiatives with IKEA have been held and continue. There has been consultation for a table setting with Alessi. Currently there are professional development courses for trainers in companies such as Unicredit, a large financial institution that is trying to create connections between children and adults in innovative ways. In an initial meeting recently, apart from the more usual talks in meeting rooms, a workshop was held in the Raggio di Luce atelier with a group of employees and their children. One hypothesis behind all this work is that creative situations improve people’s capacities in the workplace and outside it; another hypothesis is that knowing children’s strategies, how they tackle and resolve problems, how they work in groups, the rules they establish
for themselves, the forms of democracy they act out, all extends an awareness of what civil society should offer to people. A society that does not welcome children with respect and the right forms of attention is a society that has distorted many values and does not respect itself. Many of the topics discussed in the book up to now – ateliers, pedagogy, environments, observation and documentation, family and city participation – must be reconsidered and developed in the light of the new experience of the International Centre. We have to be capable of holding on to the best parts and renewing them – and to conceive new ones. No small challenge! The three areas I have been entrusted with – exhibitions, publishing and ateliers – are part of Reggio Children’s educational and cultural activities with the public. They are situated in contexts of research and reciprocal exchange in the city, and on national and international levels, and draw attention to the importance of education as a fundamental element for democratic growth. They are closely interwoven; each one generative of the others, each having a different level of priority according to the subject treated. Each exhibition, book, atelier, by consciously approaching it as part of a project, can simultaneously be a time for research, communication, professional development and dissemination.