Reggio Emilia • A town rich in art and architecture • Place of the birth of the Republic and the Italian Flag • Located on the ancient Roman Road • Highly developed region with the most highly developed and subsidised social services in Italy - particularly in relation to services for young children.
Reggio Emilia • Reggio Emilia is a small city in the region Emilia Romagna. ‘The town of Reggio Emilia is in the hub of a territory influenced by Etrscans and Gauls and founded by the Romans in the second century BC. During the Renaissance it was the home town of poets Matteo Maria Boiardo and Ludovico Ariosto. Important episodes in the history of the town are the birth of the republic and the Italian flag in 1797, and the role that the citizens of Reggio Emilia played in the movement against nazi-Fascism, for which they received Italy’s highest gold medal for military valor. • The town is located on the ancient Roman road, the Via Emilia, which crosses the entire region of Emilia Romagna from east to west. The Po River flows through the centre of the region, which is bordered by the Apennine Mountains to the south and the Alps to the north. This region of 4 million inhabitants is the largest and richest region in Italy. It is rich in art and architecture, agriculture, industry and tourism. It is also the region with the most highly developed and subsidized social services in Italy, especially in the area of child welfare. (Cadwell, 1997)
Implications for children • Children are surround by masterpieces that are centuries old - architecture, paintings and sculpture • The community values children and supports the provision of services for children. This includes educational and care provisions.
Brief history of the early childhood centres in Reggio Emilia • End of World War 11 - saw the end of Italy’s Fascist dictatorship • Desire of the people to bring about change and create a new, and more just world, free from oppression • Loris Malaguzzi - director for 40 years • Women influential in the centres - baby boom and women entering the workforce
The community • The community worked together to create the centres • Women salvaged bricks, sold abandoned war tanks and the horses left behind by the retreating Germans
Loris Malaguzzi - schools theorised and connected with the community • Those] events granted us something ….. to which we have always tried to remain faithful. This something came out of requests made by mothers and fathers, whose lives and concerns were focused upon their children. They asked for nothing less than that these schools which they had built with their own hands, be different kind of schools, schools that could educate their children in a way different from before…. These were parents’ thoughts, expressing a universal aspiration, a declaration against the betrayal of children’s potentials, and a warning that children first of all had to be taken seriously and believed in.
Loris Malaguzzi • Loris Malaguzzi had visited the United States early in his career, and he brought back to Reggio Emilia many of the principles he had seen put into practice there, including the ideas of John Dewey(1859-1952). The connection that Loris Malaguzzi made between John Dewey and the approach to early childhood education in Reggio Emilia was a crucial development . What it did was to embed the Reggio Emilia approach within the mainstream of educational ideas, which reach back to Rousseau through to Pestalozzi and on to Froebal (1700’s - 1800’s). This connection with other philosophies gives the Reggio Emilia approach a common foundation that is shared with early childhood education in other parts of the world. The principles that have evolved in the preschools in Reggio Emilia, therefore have meaning to many other early childhood programs. This has enabled Reggio Emilia to become a leader in the development of early childhood philosophy, theory and practice all over the world.
Underpinnings.. Links to theory • “Here all theorists are put together in an unusual way” (Malaguzzi, 1993) • This statement is significant when studying the Reggio Emilia approach, particularly when wishing to understand the image that the educators in Reggio hold of the child. The philosophies and theories of a number of people, including Erik Erikson, John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Barbara Biber, and Lev Vygotsky, Howard Gardner (plus many more), have been integrated into the Reggio approach. It is necessary, therefore, in trying to understand the approach , to first understand the image of the child at the core of some of these theories or philosophies.
The child - focus on strengths and the recognition of the child as an interconnected member of a social network The family - expected to actively participate in curriculum discussion and planning The teacher - an active co-learner engaged in research The community - early childhood programmes are regarded as a vital part of the community The environment - schools must be beautiful places that are highly personal and created by the children The curriculum - emerges in the process of discovering each project Reggio EmiliaWhat are the components?
Image of the child Community commitment Supportive relationships A unique philosophy Preparation of the environment/space Project based curriculum Collaboration Documentation - links to the co-construction of curriculum Aesthetics is privileged The many languages of children - Atelierista Key principles of the Reggio Emilia approach
Supportive relationships • Founded by parents with the support of Loris Malaguzzi, reciprocity and interaction characterize relationships among participants • ‘our goal is to create an amiable school, that is, a school that is active, inventive, livable, documentable and communicative…a place of research, learning, revisiting reconsideration and reflection…where children, teachers and families feel a sense of wel-being…’ (Malaguzzi, 1993) • Staff members collectively participate in decision making - teachers work together • Partnerships are central to the program
Schools have… • An atelierista (artist) • A pedagogista (curriculum specialist) who works with teachers on curriculum development • A parent advisory council at each school helps facilitate an active home/school partnership • Children stay with the same teacher for three years (supportive relationships)
The environment as the third teacher • The design and use of space encourages encounters, communication and relationships. The environment provides messages about children and learning!!! In Reggio schools the adults have thought about the quality and instructive power of space.
The environment as the third teacher • Attention to beauty – simple objects displayed beautifully, the colour of walls, the shape of furniture • Nature carried into the rooms – light from windows, healthy green plants • The beauty of reflection – behind displays are mirrors that reflect the patterns of things that children have made • The environment is highly personal – children engaged in communicating, children’s work displayed along with pictures of the children. • The environment is cared for • Design favours social interaction – linked to Vygoksky
The teacher’s role is as both a facilitator and partner in learning Topic selection based on student interest and experiences Collaboration among students, teachers and families Project content emerging form students’ evolving understandings and not from a set of prepackaged activities Multiple experiences with media to represent understandings Extended period of time devoted to projects Small-group rather than whole class projects Projects are documented - projects are uncovered These projects help children to develop language, literacy, scientific, mathematical and social knowledge Project based curriculum
Multiple languages • Children have the capacity for representing ideas in a wide variety of symbolic and graphic modes (similar to Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences) • Malaguzzi called this the “hundred languages of children” • Recognises multiple paths of expression and intellectual performance • Is especially effective with students for whom the standard curriculum often fails to reach.
The visual arts are not…. • “a separate part of the curriculum but…[are] inseparable from the whole cognitive-symbolic expression of the developing child” (Gandini & Edwards, 1988, p. 15). • Pretend play is another manifestation of the symbolic functioning essential to children’s development (Malaguzzi, 1993) • Children’s expression of knowledge through musical performance, drama and manipulative constructions provides adults with a potent means for accessing children’s perception and understanding of their world.
So what does Reggio Emilia provide for us? Recognition of: • The child as a learner • The important relationship between the child, teachers, parents and the community • The importance of appropriate design of learning environments and the privileging of aesthetics • The possibility of collaborative curriculum planning
The child has a hundred languages a hundred hands a hundred thoughts a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking. A hundred always a hundred ways of listening of marveling of loving a hundred joys for singing and understanding a hundred worlds to discover a hundred worlds to invent a hundred worlds to dream. The child has a hundred languages (and a hundred hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety-nine. The school and the culture separate the head from the body. No way. The hundred is thereLoris Malguzzi
They tell the child: to think without hands to do without head to listen and not to speak to understand without joy to love and to marvel only at Easter and at Christmas. They tell the child: to discover the world already there and of the hundred they steal ninety-nine. They tell the child: that work and play reality and fantasy science and imagination sky and earth reason and dream are things that do not belong together. And thus they tell the child that the hundred is not there. The child says: No way. The hundred is there.