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Return from Reggio Emilia

15 May Return from Reggio Emilia

Kindergarten teachers Paula Hinchliffe and Kate Morton traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy, on a Teacher Travel Grant. Advent encourages its faculty to be life-long learners and Travel Grants support this by providing funds for professional development.

Faculty are encouraged to submit proposals that describe how their trip will enhance their curriculum. Two travel grants are awarded each year. In previous years, faculty members have visited Mexico to study monarch butterflies and traveled to Costa Rica to study the rainforest, among other trips.

Paula and Kate in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Paula and Kate traveled with the Reggio Children organization. During this week-long exploration that is so central to the Advent mission and the Kindergarten experience, Paula and Kate were immersed in the Reggio Emilia approach. They visited schools and the Loris Malaguzzi Center, seeing classrooms, documentation, and techniques in action. Here, Paula and Kate share about their experiences.

On the first day of our week in Reggio Emilia, Italy, we attended a welcome session. To begin, the presenter read a list of all the countries represented in our International Study Tour. There were 450 educators from 38 countries across six continents present in the room! We were so inspired by this fact. To be in a room with so many like-minded educators – who all care so deeply about putting children first, about honoring their thinking, about learning alongside them – was amazing. We knew we were in for a full week!

Clay sculptures, similar to those that can be seen around Advent.

Throughout the week we heard presentations about the history and pedagogy of the Reggio Emilia approach. We were struck by the similarities between the start of this approach and the origins of The Advent School. Both stemmed from a desire to do better for our children, to think deeply about how children learn and think, and to resist a system that was failing. We felt fortunate to see the primary school that is attached to the Loris Malaguzzi International Center. Loris Malaguzzi is the founder of the Reggio Emilia approach. Educators in Reggio Emilia have been using this approach with children – infants to age five – for decades. They have started to think about how they can apply this approach to elementary-aged children in recent years. The primary school at The Loris Malaguzzi International Center is their first step into this work. We were the last to leave this particular school tour, as we noticed so many similarities to our school and thought carefully about how we could apply what we were seeing to our work as teachers at Advent.

Recycled materials at REmida.

We left Reggio Emilia with lots of ideas about things we can adapt or think differently about in our setting at Advent. As we toured the schools of Reggio Emilia and the many ateliers, or workshops, set up at the Loris Malaguzzi Center, we thought a lot about how recycled materials were being used in these spaces. Paula was lucky enough to visit The Creative Recycle Center, also known as the REmida. This cultural project is managed by Reggio Children and promotes the idea that discarded materials represent beauty. Using the materials provided at the REmida instead of purchasing new materials helps take care of the environment and encourages sustainability. Approximately 70 people volunteer at the REmida, and they consider the space a research center for teachers, children, senior centers, and professionals. Two hundred companies donate discarded materials to the center, and the volunteers display the pieces beautifully, showing that there are many ways to use one material. The REmida is about to move closer to the Loris Malaguzzi International Center and everyone is excited to see the discarded materials presented in a new space with a new identity.

We both feel extremely grateful to have been awarded a Teacher Travel Grant. We both are also thankful that we got to experience the journey together as we were able to ask questions, bounce ideas off one another, and think collaboratively on ways to apply what we were seeing on our trip to our teaching at Advent. The Reggio Emilia approach is important to our School and our teachers are thoughtful about the image of each child. We look forward to sharing our amazing experience in Reggio with our colleagues, students, and families.

The Hundred Languages

By Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

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.