Reggio Emilia Insight: School as a place of research - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Reggio Emilia Insight: School as a place of research

Posted on June 24, 2017

by Dr. Edna Hussey on June 24, 2017

Reggio Emilia, birthplace of extraordinary quality teaching and learning! During my second visit to Reggio (I participated in the 2010 North American Study Group), I was able to deepen my understanding of the principles of curriculum, which was the focus of the fourth international summer school. In our schoolwide goals, we have been expanding our thinking about assessment in the service for learning for the past two years with curriculum in the background. While the Reggio Emilia experience certainly affirmed our implementation of the Reggio-inspired approach in the preschool and bridging efforts in the kindergarten, I could also see multiple connections to practices in the elementary, middle, and high school. During the school year, Iʻll be working closely with the faculty to deepen our understanding of inquiry in relationship to curriculum as an area of research. In this blog, Iʻve selected a few photos of my Reggio Emilia experience.

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Reggio Emilia is a municipality of 170,000 residents. Reggio Emiliaʻs internationally-acclaimed early learning centers began after World War II, guided by Loris Malaguzzi, who was inspired by the education philosophies of Dewey, Bettelheim, Vygotsky, Erickson, to name a few. While there are 82 schools in the public system, 33 infant-toddler centers and preschools are managed directly by the municipality. 15% of the municipality budget provides all educational services for these 33 schools. The municipality also oversees the Internationale Malaguzzi Centre (where the summer school was located) and Reggio Children (the research and professional learning system). The photo was taken in the Piazza Prompolini, in the heart of the town.

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Claudia Giudici (left) is president of Reggio Children and Emanuela Vercali (right) is the international coordinator. Both women were part of the Italian contingency from Reggio Children when Mid-Pacific hosted the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance summer conference and the Wonder of Learning exhibit, which was housed at UH-West Oʻahu Library July-December 2013.

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These fresh vegetables were provocations for an integrated science, math, and art investigation in the Atelier (workshop) of Taste. Iʻll be sharing my documentation with the faculty, but one thing was certain -- I developed a whole new perspective of these living organisms.

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After a morning visit to Allende, one of the preschools whose specialty is science and math, my group of 18 met with Maddalena Tedeschi (in black shirt), one the premiere pedagogistas, and Stefano Ricci (bearded gentleman), the atelierista (art studio teacher) for Allende. In the debrief we asked about the organization of the school, the nature of an inquiry, and the role of parents. These discussions were some of the best learning experiences for me, reinforcing concepts with implementation and setting and understanding the cultural context as the culture of school.

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While my mind was fed to overfill, so was my appetite! Note the large blocks of cheese in this store window -- itʻs the real Parmigiano Reggiano, a hard, granular cheese made in Parma just outside Reggio Emilia. Mama mia! Bellissimo!

Iʻve returned to Hawaiʻi and will be overseeing Summer School while also planning for the upcoming school year. Many thanks to Dezerae Miyashiro who did an outstanding job in the interim. I look forward to seeing the children, faculty, and staff for the third week of summer school!

E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.

Principal