The future needs enthusiastic inventors and tireless explorers. This is why we need to talk to children about design. And make him practice it

The holidays have started for about ten days, but the school is in turmoil. This is demonstrated by the recent release of the book Scuola Sconfinata (Sconfinata School), a collective work supported by the Feltrinelli Foundation and the educational association E tu da che parte stai? (And you on which side are you ?). The voices called to reflect on the need to revolutionize the educational pact, so that the school becomes above all a happy and concretely useful place, belong to professionals from different worlds. Not only pedagogy, but also architecture, philosophy, art, psychology… The school of the future must find a new balance between human training and skills, between functionality and beauty. Design is obviously called upon to participate.

Ilaria Rodella, founder of Ludosfici, has been collaborating with the Milan Triennale for some years in the creation of laboratory courses for children and teenagers. You have signed, with other people involved in extracurricular education, the chapter of Scuola Sconfinata which deals with the issue of pacts between the various educational communities. La di lei is not a proposal that falls completely under the profile of classic museum educational programs. The bar in the case of the Ludosfici is a bit higher and it does not just want toteach or train, but to call the youngest to participate, to really use the radical, new and vibrant ideas proposed by the places of contemporary culture.

We asked her why it is important to talk to young people and children about the project. And we found that the future also depends on an early practice of creative and, above all, imaginative skills. “The future needs people capable of inventing, of imagining a world that works differently” explains Ilaria. “Knowing how to program a computer will not be enough. It will take audacity and imagination to conceive questions, to question the existing and then devise new concepts around the needs and demands of the world”. 

Broken Atlas, the theme of the XXII International Exhibition of the Triennale, was the first real experiment by the Ludosophists to propose to children –  and their families  the complex speculations around the idea of a design capable of restoring the relationship between man and nature. Incredibly, the workshops anticipated by a few degrees the themes of the next Triennale in 2022, addressing the idea of a living community that does not exclude any species in its inhabiting this planet and that opens up to the mysteries of a boundless and unknown nature.

Read also the interview with astrophysicist Ersilia Vaudo, curator of Unknown Unknowns, the next International Exhibition of the Triennale

“We are not a team of educators, we are born as philosophers (and in fact in the Ludosophical programs there are philosophy workshops for children and, above all, for teachers). An education that pushes us to question the meaning of what surrounds us: one of the favorite activities of children”. The cornerstone of the conception is, as always, in doing, in rooting the experience in the body. “It is an assumption that we have always respected and that allows us to immerse ourselves in abstraction by passing through experiential cognitive tools”. Montessori, and then Munari, Colani, Castiglioni teach: learning is essentially exploration, curiosity, experimentation. And imagination, as the anthropologist Matteo Meschiari explains well here.

“We try to cross over into disciplines that are satellites with respect to design: computer programming, coding, 3D printing, making. We stand on the fringes of territories that we feel can become further ways to define problems and seek solutions. We work a lot with new technologies and fab-labs, an attitude that allows us to explore new points of view together with children, we appropriate them to use them in a new way”. 

The latest project, for some Milanese schools, involved the designer Chiara Moreschi. The children followed a path that led them to identify a need, study resources and design an object capable of reusing materials and fulfilling a useful function.. “We reflected on the concept of beauty as a common good and how this can become the basis for creating a community. The project stems from their idea of community”. The latest summer campus at the Triennale, Summer Escapes. The future is now, it is underway. Children give voice to the objects of their everyday life in the creation of a wunderkammer that reflects a constant and imaginative conversation with the surrounding world.

So talking about design to children is useful? “I believe that we have a great need for individuals capable of placing themselves within a process, of problematizing and finding new solutions and new tools”. We need people who think like a designer, in short.