The Reggio Emilia experience continues be a place of connection and exchange that enables me to reflect upon my own pedagogic practice, values and beliefs. Reggio schools, Reggio teachers, Reggio environments are all things that can only ever exist in Reggio Emilia itself but whose visible traces that testify to their experience can be considered in relation to our own contexts. In this way, we can reconstruct new pedagogic patterns and pathways that embrace new ways of thinking about the child, family and education and to re-imagine what is possible when we embrace the idea of a child, rich in potential.
On a recent study tour (2011), Daniella Lanzi outlined the underlying principles of the Reggio Emilia educational project as investigating continually these underlying concepts shown below.
The Pedagogic Environment – a school as a system of relations between the protagonists of the educational experience and the dialogue between the pedagogy and the architecture of the building. Reggio educators consider it is a right of children to have a beautiful school where the environment is considered as a situation of respect and dignity for and of children. Places speak and teach, so what do our spaces for children and families speak of?
Professional Development – the process of professional development where educators learn together with children and families. Professional development is an act of collective and shared research and is part of everyday practice. It is a state of being in constant and permanent research. What and how do we research about children in our settings?
The Atelier – knowledge is considered as multi-disciplinary and multi-sensorial. Languages are considered as different forms and sources of knowledge about human being. All languages have an expressive capacity and potential. The atelier is a place to develop expressive and aesthetic research. How do our children develop and construct knowledge through aesthetic learning processes?
Progettazione (Projects) – is a strategy to create connections and relations between things (Bateson’s idea of aesthetics). Progettazione is a way of listening which gives value to others opinions and perspectives. It is not a program or topic to be followed or delivered. Progettazione helps children to make-meaning. Educators are looking for how children acquire learning (knowledge), how children process and organise knowledge and how children carry out research. These processes are subject to pedagogical documentation -observation-documentation-interpretation. How do we develop opportunities for children to work together in a project where they share and value each others perspectives?
Participation – this is a collegial and shared education project that requires educators to have great responsibility. Educators therefore continually find ways to compare their different ways of being, of sharing the processes of learning they are part of with all involved and most importantly with the families. Sharing with the families is not just about one-to one-dialogues but how as a group children are learning. How do we value and invite parents to be participants of the pedagogical project?
Dialogue with the City – the way schools are visible within the city, through participation in citywide projects, making visible to the community the values of an educational project that is different from other cities. How do our schools engage and participate with different aspects of our own communities and cities?
“Education is the main infrastructure of the community – not just what the community needs but is its integral infrastructure. Schools are at the centre of the community, economic development and social cohesion.”
Mayor Graziano Delrio of Reggio Emilia, speaking at The International Study Tour 2011
I have visited the Pre-Schools and Infant Toddler centres in Reggio Emilia, Italy since 2003 and have attended the following study tours detailed below. In April 2011, I was privileged to have been asked by Sightlines-Initiative, the UK reference point for Reggio Children to co-lead the UK Study Tour to Reggio Emilia. Here you can find a visual document containing images of the city and quotes from study tour participants.
Study Tours I have attended in Reggio Emilia
- 2011 – ‘Dialogues on Education’ Facilitator for Sightlines-Initiative on the International Study Tour
- 2010 – Representative at 5th International Network Meeting and Summer School Professional Development Program
- 2010 – ‘Collegiality and Relationships of Working’
- 2007 – ‘Actions of Listening & Pedagogical Documentation’
- 2006 – ‘The Role of the Atelierista’
- 2005 – UK Study Tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy. (Arts Council funded)
- 2003 – International Study Tour to Reggio Emilia Pre-Schools, Italy. (Arts Council funded).