“..I think that the role of the citizen requires an ethic behaviour: that is the belief that its own community should have certain characteristics of whom a person can be proud of, and the commitment to act personally so that the ideal community becomes real…”. In this way writes Howard Gardner in his recent book “Five keys for the future”, in the chapter dedicated to the ethics in which he describes Reggio.
“ I think of Reggio as the common good, a city of quality, a city of people” – Graziano Delrio, Mayor of the city.
Reggio Emilia, well-advanced and man-sized city. In the first positions in the rankings on the quality of life, Reggio is a city of the young people and for the young people: the preschools and crèches are unanimously recognized for the pedagogical approach studied and applied all around the world. City with a continuous economic growth, thanks to many productive sectors, it’s up towards the top in Italy for employment rate and export. Present in the Circuit of Towns of artistic interest, combines ancient monuments with works of contemporary art, like the Calatrava bridges, the Gerra space, the work of “Invite to” and events like the Fotografia Europea. Full of social and cultural excitement, with an important number of associations and services, it’s also university site.
What is and how is an educational community/city?
The most common definition send back the meaning of the word (verb), to educate, to the Latin roots ex ducere=take out, making achievable (visible) what is possible, what is implicit in every person, since as a child: its power, its potentiality, its value of person, its human dignity. But it’s not enough. Educate means, above all, a reciprocity act. Who educates is also educated and his/her knowledge develops in the education act. Educate is not only to form. Educate means building together identity and future. For this the school, in an educational community, plays a primary role towards the students, who have, of course, to learn the contents of the official programme , but also the creative, brief and especially ethic thought. For this reason, it’s very important the role of the teachers who are the first models, but certainly essential is also the role that the community can carry out, not only to include, but confirm and spread the concepts and values through good practises and good work.
The ethic thought, like the synthetic or creative one well-beloved to professor Gardner, it’s impossible to learn if not through an act, a context that becomes good, that is ethic: a context where the people have the right to understand why they do/learn what they are doing and how this knowledge could be used in the service of constructive purposes. The institutions must, first of all, guarantee and assure themselves to be ethic places, also to offer themselves as benchmarks to all those work-places, public and voluntary organizations which want to act to be, firstly, places of education. Therefore , it becomes important to reflect on the fundamental relationship between education and democracy.
The education is the most important task of democracy. Indeed, the bigger danger for the democracy is the unknowing. The dangerous unknowing , the one that undermines at the roots the sense of education and democracy, is that of the person who’s not able to change, to persuade and be persuaded because he/she doesn’t recognize any other identity or truth but his/hers. An elaborate society like the one we are living in needs, like never before now, people able to take charge of their opinions, but who can accept that their opinions could change in confrontation to others’ opinions.
So an educational community is a community which allows times and places where processes (of confront and discussion) can take place.
It’s a community where the concept of solidarity joins, until integrate it, the concept of participation. In fact there isn’t real solidarity if there isn’t knowledge and gratitude, and there isn’t a relationship of reciprocity. Solidarity is not something to give or offer to somebody who is or feels excluded, limited, but is, instead, a identification into somebody, giving to him/her and giving us dignity. So the bond that links me to the other is not only care but is curiosity, desire of knowledge, responsibility. The spread responsibility of a society of relations. An educational community and city is one that instructs its citizens, but one that also allows to be educated and changed by its citizens.