I recently attended the Australian Reggio Emilia Conference, which was this year in Melbourne. For a long time I have looked at the Reggio Emilia region with envy as many of my ideals of education are enacted within their city walls, while our policy makers were busy talking about back to basics and mandating phonics. This year I am at a school which is inspired by the Malaguzzi philosophy so it was a great opportunity to attend the conference.
On first looking at the program it appeared to be keynote after keynote, which it pretty much was, but I found myself so mesmerised by the pedagogues and their daily experiences that I didn’t care. And they spoke in their native language, Italian. Now you might be thinking it would make for a very long conference but the pauses from the interpreter gave me valuable thinking time. In contrast to many professional learning opportunities I have had, the two visitors from the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre did not talk about processes or educational outcomes. They spoke of what the children said and did. And the contexts they provided them. It was refreshing to hear educators who were so immersed in their pedagogy that they knew the experiences would speak for themselves. No need for buzz words because the concepts were clear. Educational outcomes were not as important as the moment.
A little insight into the high regard they have for children and the power of listening is seen in this video collated for the World Expo in Milan.
Here are a few of my take away moments from the conference from Claudia and Francesca.
Children don’t separate the cognitive from the social. They don’t separate the subjects. They make connections.
Children don’t only learn through spoken words.
The capacity of teachers listening means children’s processes aren’t invisible.
Children offer us opportunities for learning and wonder.
A drawing restructures and experience. Processes of learning are a wavy line, not a straight one.
Children are intimately connected to everything in the world. They treat things of the world the way they treat their peers. Children give voice to the what is invisible in the world.
In difficulties we build defences and shut down. Closure leads to the loss of optimistic view of the present and the future.