Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi cut the ribbon at the inauguration of Chicago’s first Italian bilingual international school on Wednesday.
He toured the school and then gave some future students of the Scuola Italiana Enrico Fermi their very first quiz. He asked them whether they knew the name of Italy’s seat of government. There was a long pause, and then he gave them the answer, “Palazzo Chigi.”
The Scuola Italiana Enrico Fermi will teach students in both Italian and English. It will focus not only on Italian language but also Italian culture.
Prime Minister Renzi said he believed the school could play an important role in helping support Italy’s plans to embrace globalization and increase trade and exports to the U.S.
The school will follow the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy, says the school’s director Anna Maria Fantuzzi. The Reggio Emilia approach was developed in Italy in the 1950’s. “We think this is the best approach for early childhood education,” says Fantuzzi. The role of the teacher in Reggio Emilia is to support a child’s curiosity. Children are encouraged to do projects, which might last a month or three or even an entire year, depending on the interest of the child, Fantuzzi says. There is also an emphasis on the arts and music.
“We think being bilingual and bicultural is a must for children to become global citizens,” she says.
Scuola Italiana Enrico Fermi has been supported by the Italian government but is privately funded says Fantuzzi.
It will start with a preschool class this fall and add additional grades as the students progress.
Alexandra Salomon is a producer for Worldview. Follow her @alexandrasalomo.