The Culture of Children

There was a lot to learn at the NAREA Summer conference last week. My favorite parts were Vea Vecchi's reminders that the Atelierista's job is to BE SUBVERSIVE,  and all of the talk about education as a political act. 

Here is my best transcription of some of the talks from Tiziana Filipini, director of Documentation, Research and Professional Development for the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, Italy;

...What idea of school should we have? We look at school as a community of learning, that transmits, but most of all builds culture. You will see how much we believe in the fact that children are already citizens, that their culture has a right to be visible in the city and there is this very important (link) between the city that is giving life to the center (school?) and the center that has given life to the city. It is a beautiful link...

That means that we have to get away from the idea that the school is just a place to assist children, to take care of them when the Mother is working or the Father is working.  We have to see school as a political and cultural subject, because no matter what we think, the school has a political and cultural role. So it is important that we (become aware) of this. We decide which direction, which orientation we would like the school to have. Not just to stay very passive, not just to keep going in the traditional way, the way it has been thought of and built and carried out all these years.
Viewing a child as an adult means losing the particularity of a child. It means pseudo forms of democracy and a parody of rights. But also a sort of modern paternalism when the needs of the adults are seen or confused with the needs of the children.
So, it is very important to keep in mind, when we work with children...inside school or outside in the City... especially in the presence of the artists or other professionals, it makes the risk even more...because we tend to shape too much, in order to get to the idea of the artist, or other professionals, while we should always think  of the child and the rights they have to express their own culture. And how much we can gain from that, and how much this is an opportunity for us and for the city to keep learning from the children. Because you see the topic of being able to work in a dialog between children and city is a very important but also difficult topic. The relationship between City and children, city and school, is not easy. But at the same time, if any policy maker wants to face the problem of the City in the future, has to put the citizen at its center...

(I hope it's ok to have these words here. If not, let me know and I'll take this down)


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