In preparation for our conference this weekend, Elena Giacopini of Reggio Emilia suggests reading the introduction to the book 'The Fountains'. Here we can find very neat summaries of various aspects of the approach of the preschools in Reggio. Here is Loris Malaguzzi discussing the necessary sensibilities of the teacher:
"...the teacher's tasks can only be mentioned in a broad sense, as they also involve the sensitivity and experience that the teacher contributes, and the resources which the adult must credit - first and foremost - to the children.
So, what to do?
- To be convinced that ways of knowing and learning can be identified, and that what we are interested in is discovering and understanding through which interactive processes children construct their knowledge and abilities, and how these processes can be enhanced or modified.
- To trust our self-regulatory resources to differentiate and measure out the nature and quality of our intervention.
- To be convinced that children and their cooperative group work are capable of carrying the project through, and that its success will also depend on our ability to guide and support them.
- To respect children's times of thought and action, as well as those of pause and indecision.
- To help children reflect on the possible differences of their opinions from those of others, and on their complete freedom, if they so choose, to oppose other opinions.
- To help children stay on track as much as possible, to remain faithful to their objectives, the project, and the endeavors of their companions.
- To help children present their ideas clearly, without overriding those of their peers, to help them not be afraid of making mistakes and to assure them that their ideas are legitimate.
- To help children recognize the enrichment that comes from the negotiation of ideas and actions, to see the value of sharing and changing points of view, and the growth in organizational abilities, knowledge, and Linguistic and communicative skills.
...the teachers task is to be a mediator, offering carefully measured and pertinent loans of knowledge and skills, periodically producing summaries of the children's convergent and divergent elements and the points of arrival of their work, to highlight the emerging meanings, and to solicit the participation of each and every child through increasingly cooperative and productive interaction. In one essential concept, the teacher's is task to preserve, as far as is possible, the naturalness of the children's creative and practical processes, in the conviction that children have the necessary resources for going much further than we might think."
What very useful guidelines, not just for teachers, but for parents and all who support children's growth and learning!
Wednesday 18 November, Radio 4 Four Thought: Rachel Roberts talks eloquently on the importance of a democratic basis to education; and its do-ability.
This was a very lively, upbeat, presentation, a call to action in which she says (as we know) that 'it can be done'! An ex-pupil of Sands School, then teacher at a Leipzig Free School, and director of the Phoenix Trust, she now works with Queen Mary University of London enabling students from low-income backgrounds be given the trust to lead and deliver mini-consultancy projects for local businesses. And ... it is not expensive ... and ... everyone wins!
I've been discussing and developing the content for our November 28th Conference, focussing on Literacy and Meaning-Making in Early Childhood and Primary Education in Greenwich, London; we have a rich and exciting day in store! The programme, introductions, and suggestions for preparatory reading are now here .
We look forward to hearing from our colleagues in Reggio Emila and the UK, and hope you will join us for this inspirational day.