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"A school where experience, the doing of body and hands and thinking come together; a school as a learning "workshop", where creativity and the aesthetic dimension become essential qualities of knowledge."
During our recent Skylight research group visit to Reggio, we visited the Malaguzzi Centre Primary School, to explore how their pedagogy is evolving, and were drawn to a new publication of theirs which throws a great light on their experience. We think that it is really fascinating, and gives a lively insight into the work and life of this primary school, its children and educators.It is an ideal reader if you are planning to attend a Study Week in Reggio, as you are likely to have the chance to see inside this school, and will really help you understand what's going on.
Usually, it is only available to visitors to the school, but by arrangement we will be able to order copies. Here is a review of the book, kindly written by Chris Merrick, and at the close of this article is what to do if you want to order the book.
"Unfortunately we find that current education policy is in such profound opposition to what we fundamentally believe in, in terms of child welfare and development, as to make our continued work in teaching untenable."
A few days ago parents of the Longparish primary school, in Hampshire, have read these lines in the letter that headteacher and deputy head, Alex and Peter Foggo wrote to parents, announcing their resignation. "The excitement, creativity and wonder that we came into teaching to nurture and encourage have been largely driven out by the rote learning of facts", as morally honest course of a profoundly opposition to the recent changes the Government is introducing in UK Schools (Guardian 28-4-17.) Local parents are sad and supportive: "The school is absolutely outstanding. Mrs Foggo has the deepest commitment to the education of children that I've come across in my life. For someone like that to feel that they can no longer run a school is just very worrying" was a typical response.
The 'rote learning of facts' are among the many combined factors which have pushed the couple, who worked in education for more than 50 years together, into this decision.
This an extreme and dramatic personal step for these educators, but can we make sure it adds to the springboard to raise our voice, as parents or educators, in such an important moment. Can the government afford to keep ignoring parents and teachers?
Actions to stand up and say what we think are growing. Everyone can take part:
"All children deserve education which champions their inborn curiosity, intelligence & creativity ..."
Get your candidate to endorse this in public. In the context of the current UK parliamentary election, we are promoting a 'poll to candidates': a simple statement which we (also all constituency parents) can ask All prospective MPs to sign up to:
- download and print the A4 statement (click the link to get it - there are 3 versions, so use the one which prints best for you);
- grab, meet, discuss 'what education can/should be' with her/him;
- get a smiling selfie with you, and the candidate holding the statement;
We will then publicise to the utmost on social media (we're setting this up, so when you email us we'll inform you of the locations.)
Let Our Kids Shine!
Here is a further campaign of Let Our Kids Be Kids: '...send glittery letters and cards to teachers and heads to thank them for helping your child to SHINE, despite the narrowed curriculum they are asked to deliver in order to pass the ridiculous tests.'
What should the parties put in their election manifestos about Education? This is the right moment – a moment in which we risk to lose educators of such calibre as Alex and Peter Foggo – to ask parties to make bold and visionary statements about Education and the wellbeing of our children.