If you gave your pupils free reign to design a school what do you think they would include? A rainforest? Classrooms without walls? Well, in Madrid a school has been built after consultations with its 500 students, aged from 2-18. And the outcome is pretty fantastic!
The Reggio School in Madrid has been designed and built with the ‘Reggio Emilia Approach’ – the concept that children are active participants in their education journey, not just passive vessels to be filled with education. There is a high emphasis on the physical environment – so much so that it is referred to as ‘the third teacher’ – it should be an inspiring setting, which encourages interaction and exploration. The Reggio School has been designed with these values at its centre. The Spanish architect who designed the building, Andrés Jaque, said about it “the architecture should prompt the imagination,and inspire the students to ask questions about the world.”
I’m mindful that you are probably reading this in your own classroom – one that was possibly built during the Industrial Revolution, or a 1960’s prefab from the post war building boom. Teaching approaches might change through the years – but school buildings don’t! So here are a few ways to bring the Reggio Emilia Approach into your classroom (and the good news is you are probably doing a lot of these things already!).
- Create a space for gathering that promotes connection and interaction.
- Create a space that feels like home, to encourage creative work.
- Create an ‘interests’ board with pictures and text that can be changed as the students’ interests change.