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Teachers as Learners and the Reggio Emilia Approach

Reggio Emilia is a pretty city in the north of Italy which looks much like others in the region, but for Early Childhood Educators Reggio Emilia is a place of inspiration for teaching and learning for young children.

This February we sent teachers from EY2, Kindergarten and Grade 1 to a conference in Reggio Emilia focused on the continuation of this educational approach which has primarily been for preschool aged children, and just last week an EY teacher and a Kindergarten Teaching Assistant along with myself were fortunate to continue their professional learning in the small Italian city.

There are many aspects of this approach to learning that appeal to us at ICS and to Early Years Educators worldwide (the conference last week, was attended by 400 participants from 29 different countries).  The importance of the physical learning environment and materials offered to children, the sense of community and participation with parents, but for me one of the most crucial elements is ‘the image of a child’.

We were encouraged to consider what image we have of children and how that impacts of the way in which we interact and teach them. It affects the way in which we listen, speak and observe children, what we expect from them and how we see our role as teachers.  After much reflection and thought I began to consider what my image of a child is.  Words like competent, capable, unique, knowledgeable came to mind.

‘We don’t want to teach children something that they can learn by themselves.  We don’t want to give them thought they can come up with themselves.  What we want to do is activate within children the desire and will and great pleasure that comes from being the author of their own learning.’      

Professor Loris Malaguzzi  founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

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