Posted on May 4, 2010
Impressions and reflections: The first two days on my Reggio Emilia study tour have been very affirming about the work and efforts of our preschool team. The approach is often referred to its origin, which is the municipality of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy. The underlying philosophy of the Reggio Approach -- a strong image of children as having enormous potential and ability to make choices -- and promoting children's education through the development of all their languages: expressive, communicative, symbolic, cognitive, imaginative, and relational -- has had extensive international impact. Concepts and theories I've mostly read about during the formation process of our preschool and over the past five years of the preschool's development are finally contextualized in visits to early childhood centers and conversations with other educators.
I now have a better understanding of the historical context of Reggio Emilia and the nearly 50 years of political, social, and economic upheaval, which shaped what is known as the Reggio approach. The collaboration among Loris Malaguzzi, its founder, and well-known psychologists and educational researchers such as Bruner, Piaget, Gardner, Vygotsky, and the many early teachers of Reggio Emilia, have contributed to this mindset. I firmly believe, especially because of this study tour, that Mid-Pacific Institute has chosen the best possible educational approach for children.
The depth of the research and constant efforts to improve children's learning not just in Italy but also globally impresses me. The Loris Malaguzzi International Centre, where I've spent most of the past two days, is a research center, toddler and preschool site, and meeting place for about 20 study tour groups, many international groups, each year since 2006. There are also 12 early childhood learning sites, all part of the Reggio Emilia network, of which I will have visited two centers by the end of the week. During my visit to the Iotti infant-toddler and preschool center, the notion of the "image of the child" was clearly evident simply in the space that children learn, play, and relate to one another. High ceilings, large windows to the outdoor environment, several atelier (workshop areas), and the use of transparent walls and doors contributed to an aesthetic environment that supports child-to-child and adult-to-child relationships. As for the work of the children, I see a similar quality of project work in our own preschool.
Needless to say, all of these meetings, conversations, and visits have my head spinning with ideas and yet, I feel strongly rooted in Reggio philosophy because of the work in our MPI preschool AND the work in our elementary level. I am looking forward to the next few days of work.
Many of you may have expected some commentary on any sightseeing and the delicious food, wine, and parmiggiano cheese, for which the region of Emilia Romagna is well known. Yes, I did go on a two-hour walking tour of the many piazzas (meeting places), cathedrals and other works of art dating back to the 15th century, and I will admit every meal here is a great meal (did you know that if you order pizza in a ristorante, you're served a pizza per person, and you find the appetite to eat the whole thing?). I'll have more to share in the next website blog this weekend.
You're in for another treat at this year's May Day program, Motown Manoa, this Friday at 12:30pm in the gymnasium. Parking will be available on the football field.
Please check your child's classroom blog for details. Although I am very disappointed about not attending the program, I did hear ALL the practice sessions from my office and got a sneak peek at the costumes. You may take your child home after the program, but you must see your child's teacher for security and safety reasons.
Tomorrow -- I visit the Rosa Galeotti preschool. More impressions and more reflections. Ciao!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey