Reggio Emilia Philosophy

— The Scandinavian School of San Francisco
Updated on Jul 17, 2013

About the Reggio Emilia philosophy

In Reggio Emilia they don’t lock their view on children, the pedagogue or the learning process. The world and its people are always changing and that’s why they are against set programs and methods. You can work Reggio Emilia-inspired. You cannot copy the way they work in Italy because you have to consider the people, the environment and culture.

In Reggio Emilia they have a coined expression: “A child has a hundred languages”. They try to unite and develop all these languages; innovation, construction, fantasy, art, music, dance, building, writing, talking, signing, science, body and soul… The multiple languages are used to help children build knowledge and understand the world around them. The natural environment is incorporated as much as possible.

The child

Children are little researchers; they can and want to communicate with the surrounding world. They are individuals with own thoughts, emotions and expressions. They believe in a “listening pedagogy”.

In Reggio Emilia they believe children have an enormous potential and curiosity. Children strive to understand the world, making their own theories to explain how it functions. Children's knowledge needs to be brought out using their natural curiosity and not filled in. I Reggio Emilia they believe that each person constructs their own intelligence from direct interaction with the environment and in social groups.

In Reggio schools, time is not set by the clock, but by the child’s needs and interests. Monday doesn't mean paint day and everybody don’t go to the bathroom at the same time. There should be sufficient time for a child to express, learn, explore, extend and revisit a given project.

The quote below by Malaguzzi who was a former teacher in Reggio sums up how the Italians using this approach view education with children:

"Each child is unique and the protagonist of his or her own growth. Children desire to acquire knowledge, have much capacity for curiosity and amazement, and yearn to create relationships with others and communicate. "

The teacher

The teacher is trying to learn about each child, not just what is typical of 3- or 4-year-olds. The teacher in Reggio Emilia is the researcher, the data gatherer, the learner, and the strategic contributor to the child's capacity to learn. The responsibility is on the community of teachers to provide the contexts for learning.

"The child is worthy of being listened to." "Listen, observe, interact, and learn from the child." "Do not place the child in adult-designed or arbitrary time slots of adult management systems." "If the child is misbehaving, find out why, find out what the child is trying to communicate, find out how you can help the child." "Your job as an adult is to help the child communicate his feelings and guide the child toward a positive resolution of the problem.

The teacher's role within the Reggio Emilia approach is complex. Working as co-teachers, the role of the teacher is first and foremost to be that of a learner alongside the children. The teacher is a teacher-researcher, a resource and guide as she/he lends expertise to. Within such a teacher-researcher role, educators carefully listen, observe, and document children's work and the growth of community in their classroom and are to provoke, co-construct, and stimulate thinking, and children's collaboration with peers. Teachers are committed to reflection about their own teaching and learning.

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