Exploring Environment as the Third Teacher in a Classroom

Recently, RJE Indianapolis had the opportunity to partner on a unique project that is working to change the face of education across the community. RJE worked with Butler University to develop a Reggio Emilia-inspired Laboratory classroom at IPS 60, a public school located in Indy’s historic Meridian Park neighborhood.

What is Reggio Emilia?

Reggio Emilia is an education philosophy developed in Italy by founder Loris Malaguzzi in the years following World War II. It centers around the premise that children are strong, capable and resilient. Rooted in this tenement, this inquiry-based educational method encourages children to construct their own learning as driven by their individual interests, as well as form and understanding of themselves through their interactions with others.

The Reggio Emilia philosophy also supports a concept called “The Hundred Languages of Children”, which means that children use many different ways to express their thoughts and show their understanding of a concept.

Using the Environment as a Third Teacher

A fundamental principal of Reggio Emilia is using the environment as the third teacher. What does this mean? It means that all Reggio Emilia classrooms should inspire children through natural light, order and beauty. It encourages spaces that promote collaboration and exploration. It also demonstrates that a child is capable by providing them with the tools they need to be self-sufficient.

How did RJE support the Butler’s Reggio Emilia Laboratory Classroom?

RJE was excited to provide furniture solutions for the classroom that supported the overall goals of the space. The tables provided by RJE offer easy mobility, allowing the children to create the most impactful learning environment for them on a day-by-day basis. The tables can also be reconfigured depending on whether they require more collaboration time or more individual focus time. RJE also provided a two height-adjustable desks so the students can avoid the negative effects of long-term sitting and engage in their lessons while standing.

Finally, the overall aesthetic supports the Reggio Emilia philosophy through colors that can be found in nature and inspire the students’ imagination and curiosity.

RJE was thrilled to partner on such a unique and educational project with Butler University.

Interested in learning more about the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy? Click here.

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