Day Two


We began our day at the Marino Marini School which is located on the edge of Pistoia – just on the urban edge which gave us great views of the true Tuscan countryside. As we rode out to the school on the city bus, we saw acres of farmland and vineyards and the sun was shining for the first time since we got here.  It was a glorious morning.

This school draws its inspiration from two major sources – art and nature.  Inspired and named for the sculptor, Marino Marini, the school is set in a beautiful countryside with green and space all around. The artistic influence of Marini provides a launching point for the children’s inspiration (this reminded me of how the Far Room has used Andy Goldsworthy’s work as a launching point for some of their investigations). The children here are encouraged to be inspired – but then to filter through their own heart, “not to imitate”.


With regards to the natural environment and how that is incorporated into the daily life of the school, the core belief is that children should be familiar with all elements of the ecosystem in which they live.  This develops at the most early and fundamental level an empathy with the natural environment. “In loving nature, we learn to respect all living things and their diversity.” One of my favorite signs in the whole school – and one that I think we need to create for CNS was “Please Touch”.  This sign appeared in a nature room – that was filled with bones and natural artifacts. It did look museum-like; but the “Please Touch” invitation fully captures the spirit and beliefs of these schools – that children are meant to directly interact and experience nature and materials so that they truly engage and understand their world.


Again the internal environment of the school space was absolutely beautiful.  Functional use of every space – documentation that illustrates the work of the children; along with telling the story of the school.  Children’s artwork is displayed everywhere.  This is a preschool – and it was a regular school day – so we were also treated to observing and watching the children interact with each other, their teachers, and their environment.


Our second stop of the day was II Mulino – Toddler Center.  This center serves children 3 months – 3 years.  We were treated to a delicious lunch – that was prepared and serve at the center.  Each of these centers (there are 10 throughout the city) have a cook on staff to prepare the meals for the children each day. Every interaction between people is loving.  Everyone recognizes each other with respect and affection.  It is contagious.  The mutual respect that each has for each other is genuine and beautiful.IMG_2937

Our time here was spent visiting all the classroom spaces.  It was here that I spent a little more time understanding and thinking deeply about the documentation.  For me, this has been a constant source of wonder and frustration at times when I think about how and what we should do at CNS.  I plan to blog only about my observations and thoughts in terms of what I learned in a subsequent post.  In fact, I am developing a list of such themes that will follow this trip – as I move from reporting to reflecting on this incredibly journey of learning.

For those of you following this space – please comment below with your questions.  What would you like to hear more about?  What sparks your curiosity about this trip?

3 thoughts on “Day Two

  1. How do the schools incorporate music and movement (yoga, dance, e.g) and storytelling into their days? Who directs it/leads it? Children, teachers, parents?

  2. Liz, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and observations – what a trip and journey indeed. As for what I would like to hear more about, everything you have posted about is so very interesting – from the photos of the schools/classrooms you are touring, to the connections you are making between these places and CNS, to ideas you have for bringing things home. Just seeing some of what you are observing and hearing a bit about your reflections are both so interesting. There is so much value in recording things daily/in the moment while on these trips as you are taking in so much, as well as leaving time for documenting things later when you have had even more time to reflect (meaning even just the “end of the day reporting” is fascinating even when you feel you haven’t had sufficient time for reflections yet!). Great job and love the posts. Have a great trip and think of me at your next meal…or even just your next coffee with some loving Italian hosts/guides for that matter…Be well and be safe. – Meredith

  3. Liz, I’ve been reading your posts with great interest (as well as enjoying Noni’s emails charting Crocus’ adventures in Italy). It’s wonderful to hear how stimulating this trip has been so far and I do love the idea of the “Please Touch” signs, as well as the characterization of the educational moment as a “journey” taken by the child, teacher, environment. I also really loved the exploration of the word “education” — it makes me appreciate what CNS does that much more. My question though is from a parent’s pov: are any of the schools coops? And where do parents fit in? How are they partners in the journey?

    These are not questions that you need to answer now — I can wait! I imagine that the blog posts take a while to construct and as helpful as they are to your audience, I hope you have enough time to just enjoy a break too.

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