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Diary

In this blog we are posting news from around the network, reflections on general news items and other broad-ranging items of interest. Current contributors are Sightlines Initiative directors Robin Duckett, Liz Elders, Debi Keyte Hartland and Chris Merrick.

Curiosity is the essence of human existence

Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan and his daughter Teresa.NASA

"Curiosity is the essence of human existence. 'Who are we? Where are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?' I don't know. I don't have any answers to those questions. I don't know what's over there around the corner. But I want to find out."

-- Gene Cernan

Eugene Cernan was (currently) the last man on the moon. I caught this reflection of his one April morning last year in a radio interview, and it's sat since then on my desk.  With short-term preoccupations threatening to drown out the current UK public sphere, I thought this was a good moment to paste this up, and gently bring us back to a bigger picture of human aspiration: certainly the one that exists in all the children 'round us - and hopefully in us too.


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Seeking an early years educator - the American School in London

One of the International Schools of our network is looking for an educator:

"We are looking for an assistant teacher who is excited to learn more about the Reggio philosophy and who wants to work with 4 and 5 year olds in a joyful, play based environment.

We are an American International School with students from 4 to 18 years of age.In Kindergarten (Reception and Year 1) we believe learning through playful inquiry is the foundation for intellectual, physical, and social and emotional growth. Inspired by Reggio Emilia and The Project Approach, we value children's natural curiosity and inclination to explore the world around them. The picture shows some work the children did on a project about Sound...they were making up ways to represent a composition using various percussion instruments and with a picture as a provocation."

ASL are making a real focus on their professional development at the moment, with all of the team having been to Reggio (or coming this April) and the core early years team are participating in our Skylight programme this year. It could be a very exciting school to join, at this point!

You will find their application form here (Lower School Assistant Teacher), and you'll also be able to read more about the school on their site, through the link.

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Are you a 'Reggio-Inspired' school (or parent) in West London? We are looking for you!

We are often asked by parents: "do you know a school with a Reggio-inspired philosophy in our area?"

Here is a request from a new network member – can you help? 

Their letter is what so many parents are asking, once they know what it is they are looking for. 

"We are a family of four (2 parents, 2 children nearly 4 years old), moving from Los Angeles to London in mid-April. Our daughters have attended a "Reggio-inspired" preschool in Los Angeles since August, and we've witnessed how the "Reggio-inspired" school which values children as already capable citizens has helped them start to truly understand themselves, the world around them and their place in it. For example, when something disagreeable happens, they have an ability to express their feelings, talk about their feelings, offer/reflect on possible solutions/strategies for the future – this is something they do every day at school. 

We find this line by John Dewey very instructive: "Education is not the preparation for life. It is life." 

We'd love for them to continue their education in London by attending a school and/or connecting with after-school programs/art teachers/like-minded families that prioritise many of the following values: 

  • learning from one another (children, teachers, parents, environment); learning from doing and child-initiated, rather than following a pre-planned curriculum; where the culture is grounded in listening to the thoughts and passions of the children and reflecting questions with questions (that we don't know the answer to); 
  • understands that all children are born competent to engage in the world makes relationships with materials, with people, with space, meaningful, contextually-grounded explorations where children are given real tools, real materials, and time to explore, to process; 
  • supports children in the expansion of their thinking and reflection, not simply telling 'the right answer'; emotional intelligence – children talk about their feelings and are given the opportunity and physical space to sit with their feelings; 
  • behaviors mean something and are noted without judgment; children are strong, capable, and competent, and their ideas are valuable; 
  • children already have something to offer the world; modelling respect and empathy; providing clear guidelines/limits and involving children in the problem-solving, rule-making process; 
  • teachers are researchers, they guide the learning, they take the time to observe the students. They are students, too; scaffolding is used – everything and everyone which supports a child's learning; 
  • documentation is a key component to teachers' research – words and posters on walls reflects back key aspects of the learning, who we are as a group, who a child is within the group, and it says to children 'we value you;' 
  • parents are partners – they share in the research process, in what the children and teachers are learning; environment is the third teacher; 
  • the "100 languages of children," – speaking, drawing, clay, wire, music, hands, work, play, reason, dream, body, mind etc…all are tools for expression and are interconnected. 

For now, we are looking for resources within 30 minutes of Notting Hill. Thank you for reading, Sanam Mahloudji and Zachary Krug"

If you are or know of a Notting Hill/West London nursery which you think may fit their bill, please write to us using the message module on the left of this page.

If you are an early childhood setting anywhere in the UK, you might be interested in this survey:
http://www.sightlines-initiative.com/survey-reggio-inspired.html
through this survey we are trying to build a map of settings across the UK which can help you being visible and connected as well as others (like parents or young educators) to open up to new possibilities.

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