Background on Reggio Emilia Municipal Schools

Orientation was quite an event.  There were dozens of representatives from around the globe.  From small African nations to Australia and the US,  people made their way to this little known region of Northern Italy. We learned about the impact of WW2 and how the residents endured fascism, Natzi occupation, and air raids by allied forces. After being liberated, the citizens of Reggio Emilia and surrounding areas were left to fend for themselves by a new and overwhelmed government.  In 1946, women were allowed to vote for the first time.  Feeling emboldened, a group of women from Villa Cella got together and decided to build a school so that their children might enjoy a life of possibilities, rather than the suppression the former generation grew up with. They were able to convince a farmer to donate a parcel of land, and fund the building by selling a tank and other pieces of equipment left by the fleeing Natzis. There was rubble everywhere from buildings that had been destroyed during air strikes.  Bricks were gathered by men and women for the new school and “brick by brick” became a metaphor for beginning a new life. At the same time, Loris Malguzzi graduated from university with a degree in pedagogy. He heard about the unique school run by Villa Cella’s municipality which was also one of Italy’s first secular schools. A few years later Malguzzi became an educational psychologist and founded Reggio Emilia’s municipal Psycho-Pedagogical Medical Centre. He is known as the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.


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