Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see – Neil Postman

New educational discoveries

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged much recently, been very busy preparing to take a year off next year. However, I’ve been working hard with some colleagues at several universities and one has thrown up a really amazing find. I’ve just discovered the Reggio Emilia approach to education. It was developed in the town of Reggio Emilia in Italy after the second world war by Loris Malaguzzi. It’s an educational philosophy built on several key assumptions. These are:

  1. Children should have control over the direction and content of their learning.
  2. Children must be able to learn through all their senses, that means catering to auditory, visual and kinaesthetic learners.
  3. Children learn in a relationship with other children. Thus, it supports a social construstionist view of education.
  4. Children need to be provided with endless ways to express themselves and multiple opportunities to show the what and how of their learning to facilitate their own exploration.

To my mind, this supports the unschool way of learning quite closely. Although, it is somewhat more structured than radical unschooling, it does facilitate the child learning at their own pace and in their own way.

Loris Malaguzzi wrote a poem that he felt described the way that children learn. It is central to the Reggio Emilia philosophy and is known as the 100 languages of children. I feel that home educators will find a resonance with the last 16 stanzas of the poem, it does with me.

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 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—

2 Responses to “New educational discoveries”

  1. Brandy

    I learned about Reggio last year and I just adore that poem. Really inspiring. I think it does suit home learning and unschooling very well. 🙂

    • Rebecca English

      I agree. I also think for Australian parents, where the departments expect a high level of documentation, their method of doing documentation would be a good one to model or borrow.


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