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Loris Malaguzzi, founder of Reggio Emilia's educational philosophy, pointed out in the 1970's that when learning and playing are seen as the same matter, then we create the environment from which joy can emerge.
More and more parents and educators are today raising their voice because they believe in the fundamental value of this joy. Instead, current models of education are asking pupils, from preschool to college, to "discover the world already there", limiting learning to just one way of learning. Even worse, education is going to be made of another matter, grey coloured, far away from joy: policies with the specific targets of putting academic tests at the forefront, leaving in the back children's emotional development and wellbeing (see here the diary item about PISA test proposal and endorsement by the UK Minister for Education Nick Gibb). It seems that politicians in power have entirely disconnected from the world of learning and children, and become exclusively obsessed with the make-believe world of statistics.
Here is Malaguzzi's eloquent poem, narrated at the opening of Reggio's 'Not just Anyplace' video:
Or 'A War of the Worlds' Or 'Compare and Contrast'?
I'm following up Tuesday's Diary item with an illustrative selection from this week's UK news and related papers about current UK Education policy 'leanings' and plans (with links to sources):
"British (actually English) school children could be guinea pigs for controversial new tests being described as a "pre-school PISA" for five-year-olds, despite other nations rejecting the trials. The move is disclosed in a contract document published quietly earlier this month by the Department for Education. " The Daily Telegraph 31 January 2017
WHAT IS 'the pre-school PISA', you ask? Here is a briefing paper (extract) from Prof. Peter Moss:
"Since its first outing in 2000, the Programme for International Student Assessment, widely known as PISA, has become highly influential in the education policy world with its three-yearly assessment of 15-year-olds in a growing number of countries around the world. Now the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) is moving on to new ground, with plans well advanced for an international assessment of early learning outcomes among young children. …
This photograph and reflection of Aimee's is from a project which we'll discuss at our day in March, in which early childhood educators will be introducing some of their struggles, questions and successes in developing an education which sincerely listens to children's enthusiasms and intelligences.
Suddenly the words of Loris Malaguzzi came to mind: "Children show us that they know how to walk along the path to understanding."
We - grown-up educators and parents - certainly benefit from being reminded of this, and encouraged to keep thinking and working for our children and for education.
I had earlier today been dumped in spirit, having read a recent statement on education policy by a UK Chartered Accountant: "It is imperative that pupils are taught a knowledge-rich curriculum. And the body of evidence on effective teaching practice is now overwhelming. The PISA results from last year serve to confirm the ever-growing body of international evidence on this point, that teacher-led instruction is more effective than child-centred, enquiry-based approaches." Why did this 'dump my spirit'? Because this was not just a 'man in a white-collar pub', this accountant is the current UK Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, in a high profile presentation to the Education World Forum a few days ago.
Here is Loris Maluguzzi again to remind us educators and parents to work for our children: "Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of enquiry, their motivation and interest explode. To disappoint the children deprives them of possibilities that no exhortation can arouse in late years."
I think we are all trying to 'walk the path of understanding': Aimee, Loris Malaguzzi, all of us who are listening, enquiring, making places of education for enquiry, joy and knowledge. (Primary educators, do come join us on our discussion day at the 'outstanding' - and creative - Trimdon/Bluebell Meadows school, and meet one such remarkable place, embedded and treasured by children and the community.)
Mr. Gibb, I find your words utterly chilling, dark and even sinister. Would they provide inspiration in Aimee's world, I wonder? I am more than sorry that you are against us. However, I am convinced that you cannot crush the spirit of enquiry.