Spaces and Places

Learning Landscapes to Enhance Education

The Reggio Emilia Approach

After WWII, Italy believed children needed a new way to learn. They believed in the importance of painting, sculpting, and drama. They thought children needed to be in an environment where they could experience learning through touch, movement, observation, and listening. The message that children needed to explore was at the center of their philosophy. In effort to transform classrooms and move towards this student-centered, hands-on approach, the role of the teacher transitioned to a co-learner, collaborator, and facilitator of learning and the environment of the learning space became "the third teacher." An emphasis was placed on creating a space that would lend itself for projects, collaboration, discovery, and inspiration. Indoor plants, natural lighting, and beautiful art filled these cozy classrooms. Not only were these spaces naturally gorgeous, they were comfortable and calm - allowing for focus, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.
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Logistics, Rationale, and Funding

I plan to visit Italy this summer with my younger sister, Dana. Prior to teaching, I studied Interior Design. Being able to apply my background in design towards creating brain-friendly, aesthetically pleasing learning environments has been a passion of mine since I began teaching. I've researched the impact design has on learning, and I've seen first hand the benefits these environments have when they're intentionally designed with the child in mind. I enjoy sharing my research, observations, and design ideas with my community and beyond.

I have written several articles documenting and explaining the impact "ditching the desks" has had on our learning. I also co-authored a book on designing learning spaces through Corwin Publishing that will be released this May. This publication focuses on the importance on muting colors, adding nature to the classroom, and creating a calming environment that inspires individual learners. I have also contributed my ideas and photographs to several publications including books, journals, articles, and blog posts.

In preparation for financing the trip, I am anticipating a budget of approximately $3500.00. This will include flight, ground transportation, lodging, meals, and additional costs (admissions, etc.). I have been saving money; however, being a mother of two on a single income presents a challenge when saving for such a trip. I would greatly appreciate your consideration to help support a fraction of this opportunity.

Jesse T Winter Proposal: Erin Klein

I am writing to request grant funding to support my studies of the Reggio Emilia educational approach to learning. It would be a dream to travel abroad and visit institutions where intentional design is intelligently integrated so organically into teaching and learning. What better place to study than where this approach started - to bring this inspiration and knowledge back to Cranbrook would be an honor. I believe Cranbrook's commitment to art and design would benefit greatly from incorporating such educational philosophies into their academic curriculum, especially as we look towards developing more creative learning spaces for innovative instructional methodologies.