The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Educating the Person as a Whole. An Experience of Observation and Training with Children, Educators and Parents in a Nature-Based Pre-School Context in Italy

Marilena Fatigante, Sapienza Università di Roma (Italy)

Cecilia Maraviglia, Rehabilitation Therapist, osteopath, certified Feldenkrais® practitioner Milan, Italy (Italy)


Pre-school education is pivotal not only to the construction of the child’s (social, emotional, cognitive and physical) competences but to the foundation of the subject as a whole. As UNESCO puts it, Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) aims at laying “a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing”, and thus “nurture caring, capable and responsible future citizens”. In this work, we document our experience of 2 years- training with educators and parents of children aged 0-6, in a nature-based pre-school context in the centre of Italy. Due to the interdisciplinary identity of the two presenters (a psychologist and academic faculty trained in interpretive ethnography and discourse dnalysis on one hand, and a professional therapist, dancer, osteopath and teacher in Feldenkrais method on the other) we were able to adopt different lenses over the enactment of developmental processes, which surface in everyday interactions between educators and children. The training has included the two authors’ visits on-site, observations of educator- child interactions and peer interactions in and out the classroom, periodical sessions of supervision with educators and meetings with parents (started in the second year of the project), which focused on topics related to the development of their children and parenting issues. We ourselves submitted our work to a close and regular examination by a supervisor experienced in Pedagogy and Art. Our proposal looks at education as a creative process: it maintains a focus on art, meant as a form of experience where, “the doings and sufferings. . . come together in one” (Dewey) and a focus on movement meant by Moshe Feldenkrais as a resource for the development of self-awareness. The analytical work grounded on ethnographic notetaking, discourse analysis of interviews, discussion with educators during training sessions and self-reflexive reports by the authors. We show how working on site, building relational trust with all actors (children, educators, parents), promoting challenge and working creatively with both adults and children strengthened their sense of community and coherence. Further, the trainers’ and educators’ documented efforts in addressing the child as a person, capable to afford the inevitable cognitive, emotional and physical turbulences that arise during learning and change, helped the child to progressively reach new goals of integration and experience connection with the natural and social world outside.

Keywords: Pre-school education, Art, Feldenkrais method, Ethnography, Wholeness, Trust


[1] D'Agnese, V. (2016) Art and Education in Dewey: Accomplishing Unity, Bringing Newness. Education and Culture, Vol. 32, No. 2 (2016), 80-98

[2] Dewey, J. (1934). Art as Experience. Capricorn Books.

[3] Feldenkrais, M., Beringer, E., Zemach-Bersin, D. (2010) Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais. North Atlantic Books

[4] Denzin, N. (1997). Interpretive ethnography: Ethnographic practices for the 21st century.  Sage.

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