Reggio Emilia : A city of enlightening values

My Italian Link > Education

The city of Reggio Emilia is the cradle of some of the values that have changed the face of our world since World War II. From helping liberate the people of Southern Africa to de ning a new educational and cultural dynamic, the city embodies healthy, positive values such
as respect, self-determination and understanding. Some might even say it is a beacon of light in the storm.

loris-malaguzzi

Loris Malaguzzi

The man who changed the children teaching method forever.

“The child is made of one hundred. 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…”

Malaguzzi worked from the principle that children have their own means of expression. He described 100 languages that pupils use to show the best way for them to learn. In this model, the teacher is entrusted with a much more complex and singular duty, “dictated” by their young interlocutor’s intuitions. It is not a task that is set in stone in a teaching manual imposed by some authority. Thus the teacher’s role is primordial in the Reggio Emilia Approach: “As partner to the child, the teacher is inside the learning situation” (Valarie Mercilliott Hewett in Examining the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education).

“In uenced by this belief, the child is beheld as beautiful, powerful, competent, creative, curious, and full of potential and ambitious desires.” Valarie Mercilliott Hewett

Reggio Emilia is home to many impressive advances in cultural and human thought that have spread around the world. In addition to the diplomatic overtures made to support Africans in their quest for freedom and reco- gnition, the city is also the birthplace of the Reggio Emilia Method, a teaching method developed after World War II by psychologist Loris Malaguzzi. This revolutionary take on education advocates for inverting the adult- child relationship and recognizing the child as a knowledge bearer. It is a far cry from the hegemonic view in which the child is human putty to be sculpted into a form dictated by the precepts of their social environment. The Reggio Emilia Approach aims to listen to this emerging person for the simple reason that the teacher is not there to instill in them a rigid vision of their future inherited from the culture and knowledge of other men (which had monstrously demonstrated its aws in the form of the recent cataclysm known as World War II); instead, the teacher is there to guide the child toward a better version of “their self”.

The third pillar of successful learning accor- ding to the Reggio Emilia Approach is paren- tal involvement. It is not a coincidence that many of the volunteers in these schools are the students’ parents, who play an active role in educating their children. The local commu- nity is an integral part of the approach and the parents themselves are viewed as the ” rst teachers”.

The principles of this positive teaching model are founded on understanding oneself and others and are grounded in respect, responsi- bility and community. By following them, the teacher works to guide the child on the path to personal development using the vehicle of their choosing. The “vehicle” is the child’s pre- ferred mode of expression, the one they adopt instinctively and which the teacher will employ to impart knowledge. Disciplines such as acting, drawing, sculpture, singing and writing all become weapons against obscurantism. The Reggio Emilia Approach has become a hallmark of this city that devotes itself to libera- ting individuals and peoples.

www.reggiochildren.it