And so they put the Bimbisvegli – The Future City to sleep

There are those who teach

driving others like horses

step by step:

perhaps there are those who feel satisfied

There are those who teach by praising

what is good and amusing:

there are also those who feel satisfied

being encouraged.

There are also those who educate, without hiding

the absurdity that is in the world, open to everyone

development but trying

to be frank to the other as to oneself,

dreaming of others as they are not now:

each grows only if dreamed.

(Danilo Dolci)

This quote appears at the bottom of the Bimbisvegli project and says a lot about what lies behind this adventure, unfortunately temporarily interrupted precisely by those who perhaps understand children as beings to be guided, horses to be guided and cannot dream of them, and therefore to accompany them in the growth.

Put a poem of Danilo Dolci (Sesana, 1924 – Trappeto, 1997), poet, sociologist, educator and, perhaps, above all pacifist, as an introduction to an educational project is in itself a declaration of intent that cannot be misunderstood; it means taking the side of childhood, recognizing its wonderful and elusive peculiarities.

Let’s take a step back to understand the whole issue.

Originally there is a teacher, Giampiero Monacaand the idea that children do not necessarily have to be kept behind a desk in the best years of their lives but that, instead, they can learn and grow in an “open and widespread” school.

“The infantile age is a real developmental window through which specific behavioral patterns, cognitive processes and social approaches are experimentally adopted by children, who through inferences and meta-reflection can reach the development of a harmonious and balanced self. It has been shown that sensory and social deprivation in certain critical periods leads to the loss of social and behavioral skills and competences, sometimes permanently. ” [1]

The Bimbisvegli project was born in Asti with the aim of reviving the ideal of Summerhill [2]: that of a free, welcoming school, in which learning is an achievement to be made together, respecting the times and the peculiarities of each one. In addition to Summerhill, the giants on whose shoulders the Bimbisvegli climbed are: Maria Montessori, Mario Lodi, don Milani, Célestin Freinet, PA Kropotkin And Baden Powell.

For those who, like the writer, work in the Italian school and know the modalities, some concepts of the project Kids awake they seem very far from being actualized yet full of charm: this is what many Italian teachers and professors would like to achieve. Let’s see some of them together:

  • We care: motto dear to one of the greatest Italian masters, Don Lorenzo Milani, who wrote I care on a wall of the school of Barbiana. We care means that the school-community (teachers, children, parents) welcomes and takes care of everyone’s needs;
  • Subjective evaluation: Don Milani’s voice echoes again, who wrote in the Letter to a professor: “There is nothing that is unfair as to make equal parts among unequal”. The evaluation, which the Italian school wants objective and super partes, cannot be such by its very nature, because each child is different from the other and this simply forces teachers to recalibrate, change perspective, question themselves;
  • Solidarity teaching, which means entering into a relationship of empathy with the individual child to understand his real needs, difficulties and, why not, his stops. If a concept has not been understood by even one, the teacher must stop, go back and readjust his explanation to that specific child. All of this in a school that rates its teachers based on HOW MUCH learners learn sounds like a science fiction concept.
  • “Education to hear.” Behind this term there is the path that leads first to the awareness of otherness and then, in a harmonious way, to the concepts of empathy, sharing, peace. Children begin to know others through their senses: they smell, touch, look … and thus they understand who they are in front of. From this comes the discovery of the thousand diversities, the curiosity and the sympathy and the joy of proceeding together.
  • Setting. She is the beloved word of official pedagogy which, however, often identifies the best solutions for educating adults and not for children. Bimbisvegli practices a child-friendly setting: with hemicycle benches, so that everyone can look into each other’s eyes. Then, when you have to work in a small group (a modality always appreciated by children), the benches are joined to form islands. Under the blackboard there is a low bench that serves both as a container and as a seat but, above all, as a step to allow even the youngest children to write and draw on the blackboard. Even this idea, which really warms the heart of the writer, seems almost banal if we think that Maria Montessori, another bulwark always mentioned and very little following of the Italian school, more than a hundred years ago pointed out that space must adapt to the child and Not vice versa. The desk? Does not exist!
  • Topus de Libris is a mediator character who accompanies the class to discover the magic of the book. He lives in the school library and receives letters and messages from children; he appears to tell stories and to introduce topics of general interest.
  • The agora is the space in front of the blackboard that is always left free so that it is possible to sit in a circle, converse, discuss, get to know each other better …
  • Sharing the material. The Bimbisvegli do not have personal cases, which create significant differences between those who can and those who can less, but all the material is in the classroom in containers available to everyone. Sharing, in this way, passes from theory to a joyful daily practice in which all children are truly equal. In the project of the master Monaca there was also the abolition of books to take home, to activate a “school without backpack” mode in which in the morning the children could travel light, without bending under the weight of backpacks larger than They.
  • Outdoor education. For those who are alien to the world of Italian schools, it is worth explaining that outdoor education is one of the most popularized and recommended educational methods in training courses, specialized texts, etc. As the name suggests, the o. And. it is nothing more than the way of transporting outside what is generally done inside. It is not, therefore, the outside that enters the school (nursery, childhood, primary, secondary), but itself that goes out and goes to “know” nature, to touch it with hand, to smell it, to look at it.
  • School for everyone. Bimbisvegli is a project implemented in public schools and the parents who decided to enroll their children did not have to pay any extra fees. Bimbisvegli was the innovation brought to the Italian school at zero cost. And with such prerogatives, it has obviously been demolished.

Small ignoble story (as Guccini would say)

Although, as mentioned, the practice of Outdoor Education has been recommended for years now, it has been used as crowbar to enter the Bimbisvegli project and block it. Monaca’s fault was to take her children outside and allow them to climb trees (not to dangerous heights, of course, nor without supervision). The management of her institution suspended it, despite the support of the parents of her children who never shared the manager’s positions and testified to the added value that such experiences represent. The fact is that Bimbisvegli, an absolutely innovative experience, but created on the basis of solid theoretical and practical precedents, respecting the child and his growth methods, has been closed. Maestro Giampiero underwent one last fall hunger strike for 63 days in defense of his project. He interrupted the strike when a calming signal seemed to arrive from the management of the Asti institute. But it was just a joke, one of the least funny. Nothing has changed and the teacher Monaca has taken a leave of absence from school.

The story, told by himself, is much longer and more complex and even more grotesque than it appears on these pages, but we don’t have enough space to narrate it. The fact remains that the project, despite having passed the ministerial inspections, was blocked when the teacher was asked to choose a small group of children, among all those who had chosen Bimbisvegli, and to continue only with them, leaving the others in the mode. traditional. The teacher did not want to choose between Serie A and B children – as the manager knew that it would happen – and he put himself on leave.

And the Italian school is poorer – even poorer – than before.

“We believe that one of the fundamental objectives that, as primary school teachers, we can set ourselves, is that of guiding and hinging the approach of individual pupils with knowledge, with study and with the school itself. An excellent experience at primary school that promotes children as a whole, that stimulates their interests and welcomes their needs and fascinates them to knowledge and invites curiosity and deepening, will be a solid basis for making them motivated students and interdependent people. . Educating to understand by posing problems, looking for solutions, to provide students with the intellectual tools, and learning methodologies to become people who think independently, make decisions in conscience, who seek justice rather than obedience ” [3].

He said Alexander S. Neill (Summerhill school): “People ask me constantly: but how will your pupils adapt to the filth of life? I hope that these free kids will be the first to abolish the filth of life! “.

We are aware that much more could be said about this precious educational experience, which we hope is only interrupted and not concluded.


[1] From “Protocol diffused and outdoor school 2020-2021” signed by the teachers of the primary school of Serravalle d’Asti.

[2] The Summerhill School was founded in 1921 in Great Britain by Alexander Sutherland in the name of libertarian pedagogy. It is an independent college set up as a democratic community. It hosts children and young people between the ages of four and sixteen, mostly from abroad (because, as we know, no one is a prophet at home …) In Summerhill there is no hierarchy: the pupils live together according to age criteria in small houses . Lessons are optional. The timetable, which also exists, is only for teachers. Boys are completely free, as long as their actions do not cause harm to others; Neill’s motto is: “Freedom, not license”.

[3] Blog “A whole different school”,

01/04/2022 | Copyleft © All the material is freely reproducible and only the mention of the source is required.

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And so they put the Bimbisvegli – The Future City to sleep

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