To arouse amazement and curiosity about nature and its mysteries in children: this is the aim of a project that’s been launched at Casa Zegna and in Oasi Zegna, a site-specific and Montessori-inspired educational project in which Fondazione Zegna is working with “Il Filo da Tessere”, a social consortium.
To find out more about the Montessori method and how the children’s workshops are coming along we interviewed the project’s manager, Ruggero Poi.
How did this collaboration between “Il Filo da Tessere” and Fondazione Zegna come about?
The first meetings with the Foundation were in 2015 and focused on the structuring of services for families. When we actually saw Casa Zegna and Oasi Zegna, we immediately understood the potential in this natural environment for a site-specific educational project along Montessori’s lines. Oasi Zegna and the network of accommodation facilities linked to it is an educational microcosm, a natural observatory in which to organize educational experiences of various lengths and types interspersed with walks, guided excursions and sports.
When were the first workshops started up?
They actually opened for the kids on the occasion of the exhibition entitled “From alpine summer camps to Zegna Camps”, for which we organized a cycle of workshops for families in September 2016. We focused on the relationship between kid’s camps and natural colonies of insects and other animals. So we devised experiences that would enable the participants to appreciate nature’s immense intelligence and spoke about design, order and technology having first examined some anthills and beehives.
These workshops were inspired by the Montessori method: can you tell us a bit more about that?
Maria Montessori, one of the first women to graduate in medicine in Italy, held that it was important for kids to learn about the universe and the world from an early age and she called this approach, in which every element is strictly interdependent on the others, Cosmic Education. A story of the cosmos that is truly “fabulous”: nothing is more astonishing or mysterious than the universe and nothing requires more imagination than thinking about a space beyond our earthly possibilities. This Italian scientist believed that it was only by arousing kids’ amazement and curiosity about nature and its mysteries that they would then want to go on studying the sciences. So we decided to talk about the cosmos in a “hands-on” dimension, by looking at colonies of insects in fact.
How are the workshops in Oasi Zegna progressing?
After this initial experience we wanted to plan some longer term activities in the natural environment of Oasi Zegna. We called our project M.I.C., Montessori Inspired Camps, i.e. Montessori-inspired summer camps for kids from 7 to 11, in the week from 18 to 24 June. Over the seven days, exploration in natural contexts and workshop activities (STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – and creative exercises inspired by famous artists and designers) will alternate with personal care and consideration of individual and group needs.
And the workshops at Casa Zegna?
Workshops at Casa Zegna will start up again on 6 May, on the occasion of the “Soft Life, wrapped in natural fibers” exhibition and the “Festival Selvatica 2017”. This year they focus on the construction of a bestiary. The basic idea is to explore the animal world starting with a specific aspect: the structure, the coat, tracks, joints… In each workshop we will build “anomalous animals”. To invent animals, in fact, we have to experiment with what Munari called the “science of imagination”. What do we need to be able to build a dragon, for example? What kind of feet? The eyes of which animal? The wings of which bird? From which reptile shall we take the body? Each choice will be rooted in a function that makes our imaginary animal special. In this way each child will choose their “components” to build their special animal. We’d like to create opportunities for kids, accompanied by their parents, to build their own personal awareness of nature. What we’re interested in is how this can be learned.
Can you tell us something about the next workshops, which will be held on a very special occasion, the “Three Days of Gardens”, organized by FAI at Castello di Masino?
From Saturday 29 April to Monday 1 May, at the Oasi Zegna stand, we will be talking about our projects and offering a brief experience of the “Flowering Stories” workshop. Castello di Masino is famous for its history and its stories. Every story has a development, a germination, a flowering, a blossoming, relations, an environment. We will give kids an opportunity to build characters and stories starting with a “narrative seed”, a figure to dress and characterize, and make it meet with other characters against a background designed to focus kids’ attention on the environment and culture.
tel. 015 7591463
tel. 015 7591460