by Justin Jarman
In the AISB Early Childhood section, we draw inspiration from the pedagogical principles and practices of the Reggio Emilia approach. Most of our Early Childhood faculty have received training from leading educators of Reggio Children. The Reggio Emilia approach, founded by Loris Malaguzzi in the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy, is held in high esteem by the Early Childhood community. The philosophy of the Reggio approach aligns virtually seamlessly with that of the Primary Years Program. Both approaches to education call for students to have a high degree of agency over their learning experiences. The teacher, rather than being an omniscient figure, works in partnership with students, helping to facilitate and support their learning processes. The role of the teacher is to provide responsive and engaging learning experiences which aim to extend, consolidate or confront children’s ideas. In this respect, as Reggio-inspired educators, we shift our attention from solely standards and content (though these are also important aspects of our instructional program), to valuing, including and responding to children’s ideas, interests and evolving theories.
One key idea that comes from the Reggio Emilia approach is that of ‘the image of the child.’ The Reggio approach to education, supports the idea that we should trust our kids and know that they are infinitely capable. Rather than being empty vessels needing to be filled with information that comes from adults, Reggio philosophy holds that our children are born with innate abilities to engage with their environment, make connections, and forge meaningful relationships with one another. Children possess an infinite number of ways to perceive the world and an infinite number of ways to express themselves. Traditional educational models don’t always honor this notion, and through their top-down approach, limit the way our children perceive and interact in the world. The Reggio approach imparts to educators that our role in working with young learners is much more of a partnership, than is the traditional hierarchical relationship, whereby the teacher transmits knowledge down to the student. Rather, the Reggio approach holds that as educators, our role is to listen to children, to understand what they already know, to ask them open-ended questions, and to facilitate their interactions with the environment and their peers. In this way, we can help our students to construct greater understanding and to make meaningful connections about how the world works.