Vea Vecchi: Beauty and Ethics are Foundational for our Future

I just listened to an impassioned TEDx Talk given in Reggio Emilia, Italy a few months ago by Vea Vecchi.  I found the TEDx because I was reading Jennifer Azzariti's blog, In Dialogue.  Jennifer is a friend and colleague who I greatly admire and with whom I have been lucky enough to work.  We were together in Reggio Emilia and Ligonchio last July.  There, we both had the privilege of spending a week with Italian educators and other educators from all over the world in the stunning natural environment of the Apennine mountains.  Among those we spent the week with was Vea Vecchi, an atelierista who worked closely with Loris Malaguzzi, the founder and philosopher behind the Reggio Approach.

Vea recently authored  Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia which I recommend to everyone  who is interested in how children learn and the role of creativity in learning.  It is a beautiful book written in a direct, narrative voice.  Vea tells lots of learning stories, some about her grandchildren that are enchanting and amazing.  The kind of stories we might all tell if we were keen observers and listeners, and life long researchers of creativity and the imagination.

The TEDx Talk is in Italian.  It is worth watching even if you don't understand the Italian to feel Vea's passion, courage and vision.

A few excerpts:

We are convinced that it only through education that we can confront the difficulties of our time that have the attention of everyone, that humiliate us as citizens of the world.  What is a school and an education of quality?

For one, we give so much importance to the environment.  Beyond the right of having a school is the right to have a school that is beautiful and taken care of with an attitude of care so that parents, children, and teachers want to come to school every day.  We have in some ways confused luxury with care.

The atelier has brought many materials and techniques, but also has illuminated a need, not only for children, but for human beings to communicate in a way that rationality and imagination travel together.  We believe in a multiplicity of languages that are integrated and not separated.  We believe that this makes learning and understanding more rich and more complete.

Poetic thought does not separate the imaginative from the cognitive, emotion from the rational, empathy from deep investigation.  It lights up all the senses and perceptions and cultivates an intense relationship with what is all around us.  It constructs thoughts that are not conformist.  And this creates two important elements: solidarity and participation, both of which are the foundation of democracy.

To conclude, we believe that identifying and researching beauty and ethics is the indispensible foundation for a livable, sustainable future that everyone speaks about but that seems so difficult to bring about.  It is only with an intelligent heart, with courage and with vision that we can proceed.