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In brief

Ecoletopie: satisfactory initial results from teaching experiment

Écoletopie
The layout was decided in part by the students - © Communication Department / Manuel Vitali

In an experiment called Ecoletopie – which translates roughly as ‘Schooltopia’ – Saint-Charles school has been testing a new classroom layout since September.

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Bouncy seating, giant cushions and mobile tables have replaced traditional classroom furniture. The tables are now arranged in a ‘U’ shape and large pillows are placed in the centre. The scheme, which has been running since September, is in partnership with the New National Museum of Monaco (NMNM), the Department of National Education, Youth and Sport (DENJS) and the Prince Albert II Foundation. The new furniture has already won over the CM1 pupils and their teachers at Saint-Charles school. Interviewed by Monaco Info, James, a pupil, said:  “We’re free to do pretty much what we want on the furniture and it makes us feel good.”

The experiment came to an end on Wednesday 21 February, in the presence of the partners’ representatives  – © Communication Department / Manuel Vitali  

In designing the space, the Smarin design studio focused primarily on the sitting position. Designer Stephanie Marin said on state television, “We designed bouncy seats, so that the children would have a little more gestural freedom to express themselves with. The idea being that it would have a positive knock-on effect, rather than them being restless.”

The staff are also already seeing a positive impact on school work. “The environment encourages cooperative teaching methods,”  teacher Sylvie De Almeida told Monaco Info. “When the children have finished, they can still be mobile… they can go and sit on the cushions. The appeal of sitting on a cushion makes even the non-bookworms want to read, and we’ve had very good results, much better than with traditional furniture,” she said.