‘the hundred languages’ {of reggio emilia}

why do we play, observe,  listen and explore together? why do we champion the notion that ‘teacher is co-learner’ in our space? why do we encourage cooperation, collaboration, connectedness?

this, this is why.

“In 1946, Malaguzzi enrolled in the first postwar psychology course in Rome – and this marked the beginning of the Reggio Emilia adventure.

It started in a little town called Villa Cella in the northern region of Italy known as Reggio Romana. In the political and economic chaos that followed the fall of Fascism and the German retreat from Italy, the villagers, including children and parents, had collected stone, sand, and timber to build a school. Loris Malaguzzi rode his bicycle to the town to have a look and was so impressed by what he saw that he stayed.

The first school was financed by selling a German tank, nine horses, and two military trucks. According to Malaguzzi, “It was the women’s first victory after the war because the decision was theirs. The men might have used the money differently.” That first school still exists in the countryside 20 minutes from the city of Reggio Emilia. 

… The vision of Reggio Emilia schools is always evolving. However, what is constant about the philosophy is best described by Malaguzzi himself: “What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what is taught. Rather, it is in large part due to the children’s own doing as a consequence of their activities and our resources.”

{Dr. Carol Brunson Day, CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition, May, 2001, Early Childhood Today}

now, it’s up to all of us to continue to explore and journey and create … with all hundred languages and hands and thoughts and joys and words and hundreds upon hundreds of many hundreds of smiles and laughter.

:: today, stop … listen and look. breathe deep the activity around you. watch the faces and hear the words and see what hands are doing.  these many moments make up the journey and we all have so much to learn from each other … no matter our age. :: 
 
. . . . . . . . . . . . 
 
The Hundred Languages
No way. The hundred is there.
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
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.
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.
-Loris Malaguzzi
founder of the Reggio Emilia approach

“I wonder where … ” {a butterfly story}

Painted lady

painted lady (photo credit: Marko_K)

yesterday, a little voice said “I wonder where our butterflies are today

out of the blue and so full of wonder for the journey our painted ladies took a while ago. but, while it was an ‘out of the blue’ question, it was also a question that embodies our rhythm in our school — listening to and valuing each voice, exploring our environment (inside and out) and allowing discovery to happen naturally and when it should.

books were brought out to talk about the logistical aspects of the butterflies — they likely had laid eggs and are no longer living but the reality of that wasn’t what this voice wanted. we sat and revisited our observation journal and spoke of how our five caterpillars moved so gracefully from one life-stage to the next. but that also wasn’t what this voice wanted – you could just see it painted on this face, this push and pull that was happening.

{and here lays the beauty of a Reggio Emilia program — adults allowing themselves to listen, to observe, that our space is based on communication and relationships and, above all, that ‘teacher’ is the co-learner}

so, I dove in deeper — what was behind that question? and the answer was simple yet so complex. the want to know what they saw on their adventure after we released them. the want to know if they found the right flowers, did the owls hoot a welcome to them, did they stay together as friends, and how does nectar taste? but, the most important one: the want to know if they missed us as much as this wee one was missing them.

oh my.

so a tale was born. our tale of our butterflies and their grand adventures. the tale of jules, orangie, spikey, harry and tiny — who met a friend who calls himself ‘nair’ and how they met a wonderful owl and munched on leaves and played in the sunshine.

paper from the paper-roll on the art studio table was taped to the floor. stickers, crayons and our bodies all gathered, belly-down and shoulder-to-shoulder, on the art studio floor and we talked and drew and a collaborative tale and drawing emerged. all it took was for this adult to listen and observe — pulling out books on the reality of our butterflies was the first step to this process but, in the end, it was this that was needed. community, connections, acknowledgement that we adults aren’t the ones with solutions but we can be the guide.

I am so happy for this experience and so happy that I did stumble — it’s a reminder that in slowing down, in listening and feeling in the moment, in allowing this little one to be the guide for me to understand, that that’s where the connections and learning happens.

:: when little voices ask questions of you today, can you stop and use all your senses to understand the true question? can you find time to lay, belly-down and shoulder-to-shoulder, on the floor with your little one today and just create, listen and observe together? ::