Fare Scuola looks ahead to the future
Every end brings a new beginning. This summer will see the conclusion of the last 10 projects of “Fare Scuola,” the ambitious initiative launched three years ago by Enel’s non-profit organisation Enel Cuore and Reggio Children Foundation – Centro Loris Malaguzzi with the intention of bringing new life to 60 school buildings in Italy.
The initiative, which involved 9,345 children, trained 140 teachers and school leaders and employed 26 different architects in the planning of didactic spaces, can now be considered completed.
A spin-off project was also announced at the report presentation held on 15 March at the MAXXI – the National Museum of XXI Century Arts, in Rome. Inspired by Fare Scuola, the Museum will house an area similar to those created by the project on its own premises over the following months, with the intention of connecting children and teenagers with art.
This did not happen by chance. As Patrizia Grieco, Chairman of Enel and Enel Cuore, noted, Fare Scuola is an example of “repeatable best practice,” an operational model which has brought Italy global recognition and one that will bring communities together in the years that follow. Highlighting the role of the school in “rebuilding daily life,” the next test for the initiative will be the implementation of 10 projects in towns affected by the 2017 earthquake in Central Italy, a new challenge scheduled for completion by the end of summer 2019.
Both Carla Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children Foundation – Centro Loris Malaguzzi, and Giovanna Melandri, President of MAXXI Foundation, expressed their agreement about the replicability of the model. With guests from some of the schools which have hosted regeneration projects – for a value, to date, of €5 million, the three presidents explained how the project meets the essential principles of sustainability, solidarity and resilience.
“We wanted to make a real contribution to placing the school at the heart of the community, emphasising the teachers’ role and enhancing the creative potential. The results have exceeded our expectations and show that it is possible to activate a virtuous cycle of innovation and change, through involvement”
– Patrizia Grieco, Chairman, Enel and Enel Cuore
In the vision of Fare Scuola, structural repair of the buildings and their transformation is just one part of the project. Didactic laboratories have been modernised, courtyards reorganised while, in some sites, the architects have created winter gardens, and in others, indoor areas have been redesigned as meeting places. The most innovative aspect, however, regards the interaction between teachers and families with the intention of improving the children’s learning path. A school is not simply one thing: if it is built up day after day, it can become a social and cultural centre for the community. A resource for the territory, that can become a second home.
“Making changes in these physical spaces means working on the relationship between teaching and learning. We could talk about ‘the hundred languages of space,’ to paraphrase ‘the hundred languages of children’ which is the basis of the Reggio Emilia Approach. These spaces talk, condition, inhibit and allow: they aren’t a container of thought but a part of that thought”
– Carla Rinaldi, President, Reggio Children Foundation
One of the great merits of Fare Scuola, said the President of MAXXI Foundation, is the ability to push the search for new solutions forward, in terms of both method and approach. Planning and emotion work together in an original formula, one which finds an echo in the great scientific explorations. Comparing the use of architecture in the initiative created by Enel Cuore and Reggio Children with two exhibitions hosted at MAXXI, it’s soon clear how the contamination of different languages communicates information that would otherwise be difficult to absorb. For example, in a first-time partnership between the Museum and the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and the Italian Space Agency, art was used to show young children complex themes, such as the discovery of gravitational waves celebrated in this year’s exhibition Gravity. Imagining the universe after Einstein sponsored by Enel, which was the sole private partner. Similarly, in the exhibition dedicated to Lebanon’s multicultural capital, Home Beirut. Sounding the Neighbors, the entwining of music, dance, video and creative works immediately made even the smallest visitor aware of the values of resilience and cohabitation that inform the project. This experience sparked the intention to create a space at MAXXI for interaction between children, teens and adults along the lines of Fare Scuola.
“Educational spaces speak by themselves, but they should also be talked about, using exhibitions and experiences to demonstrate their specific language. The intention is to create a path that is similar to Fare Scuola too, so that children and adults learn to see themselves as both performers and audience”
– Giovanna Melandri, President, MAXXI Foundation
Beauty that teaches
When the vivacity of colour, the softness of shape and the intensity of light bring a new rhythm to the places where we live, something surprising always happens: whatever may appear predictable or unworthy of attention is suddenly represented with the support of beauty and sparks individual creativity. This reaction has been noted by many teachers involved in the Fare Scuola project. Francesca Boccioni, who teaches at Isorelle, near Genoa, explained that the renewal of the educational areas at her school was the deciding factor in reversing the negative trend in enrolments. Similarly, Giovanni Govoni, a support teacher at the Institute of San Pietro in Casale (Bologna), highlighted the universal and intersecting characteristics of the approach. When attention to aesthetics is combined with technology, for example in the case of vocal synthesis (experimented for the first time in the case of the recently deceased theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking), students learn more easily.
In the Fontanelle area of Naples, one of the most problematic of the city, teacher Daniela Salsano noticed how students were impatient to get back to school, after several snow days which kept them at home. Their enthusiasm was due to the new hall which allows them to do research in link with the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. For the Mayor of Savignone, Antonio Biogotti, the strength of the Fare Scuola project lies in its ability to create enthusiasm. The second grade classes of the school in his town would not have been able to build “flying thrones” if the areas had not first been reinvigorated by the alliance between institution and project partners.
Fare Scuola has created a new model: Enel has entered into the heart of the Italian education system.