So, it’s summer and my only teaching will be week-long summer camps at a local arts organization (not terribly conducive to the Reggio approach given the lack of time, connection with the family, etc). However, I have been using my free time to reconnect with Reggio literature. The Hundred Languages of Children, edited by Edwards, Gandini and Forman has garnered a large part of my time and contemplation. Not an easy read, but so worth it.
This text is thick with provocations, and I am finding myself thinking, reflecting, digesting, organizing cognitively, inquiring and debating internally. I am so hungry for a regular group of Reggio educators with which to collaborate and create discourse! While waiting for that to bloom (some seeds have been planted!), I thought I would put down some of the many ideas and experiences described in the book that stood out for me. Some are direct quotes and some are notes I jotted down in a notebook while reading.
- A classroom environment is designed to explore the sharing of information between the realms of relationship, cognitive inquiry and affectivity.
- “…when children have experience using their drawings, paintings and so on, as a basis for further discussion and work, they attend to it with great care. Young children do not have to take work home everyday. When they do, the work is not being used for their learning.” (44) (Italics added.)
- “We had to preserve our decision to learn from children, from events, and from families to the full extent of our professional limits, and to maintain a readiness to change points of view so as to never have too many certainties.” (52)
- “If the children had legitimate rights, then they also should have opportunities to develop their intelligence and to be made ready for the success that would not, and should not, escape them. These were the parents’ [in Reggio Emilia, Italy] thoughts, expressing a universal aspirations, a declaration against the betrayal of children’s potential, and a warning that children first of all had to be taken seriously and believed in.” (58) (Italics added.)
- “If the school for young children has to be preparatory and provide continuity with the elementary school, then we as educators are already prisoners of a model that ends up as a funnel. I think, moreover, that the funnel is a detestable object, and it is not much appreciated by children either. Its purpose is to narrow down what is big into what is small. This choking device is against nature. If you put it upside down, it serves no purpose.” (88) (Italics added.)
- “…a clay figure of a runner is a symbol, but not itself a language. However, when 12 children make different clay figures in order to tell the other children how to play ‘Drop the Handkerchief,’ these clay figures become the elements in a proto language…These various media, when combines to tell a story, form the 100 languages.” (249)
So many thoughts branch out from just these few ideas! Like the children in Reggio schools, the educators and parents are meant to discourse and collaborate about the children, their explorations and their learning. We are meant to model what we seek to observe in them. Reggio, I am learning, is recursive and reflective.
I will end with a few inquiries of my own. I am beginning to see that a voracious appetite of intellectual curiosity is absolutely essential in order to widen the range of education possibilities and to live as a teacher-researcher.
- How do I observe the readiness of children? How does it present itself?
- How do I activate meaning-making competencies in the children?
- How would my teaching transform if I practiced this belief (which I hold to be true) posited by Loris Malaguzzi: “I believe there is no possibility of existing without relationship. Relationship is a necessity of life.”
© 2015 Shelley Welch