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Shortly before Christmas 2015, the Parliamentary Education Committee announced that they would address the question: 'What are the purposes and desirable qualities of education?'. Fantastic. We contributed, (see Diary article) and attended their conference. It has all now gone very quiet.
But not outside of Westminster.
We were delighted to find that a coalition is emerging, and we are now members. It is called 'More Than a Score' and its campaign is to re-enliven education. It too is addressing the question 'what are the purposes and desirable qualities of education': and it is a group of determined organisations and people.
At MTAS 2016 conference, author Tanya Landman posed the question "Are we in sinister territory? Do politicians actively want to switch children off from learning, from thinking for themselves?"
A Fascinating Programme: Sat 26 November, London
A weekend for early childhood educators to encounter the work of Reggio Emilia and develop their own competences in working across the range of expressive languages to support their children's learning and meaning-making.
9.45 – 10: Welcomes
10 – 10.20: Introducing the Hundred Languages of Children – 'this fantastic theory'. Peter Moss (Professor of Education, Institute of Education, London)
"The theory of the 'hundred languages of children' and the way it informs pedagogical work is an important part of the identity of the municipal schools of Reggio Emilia. The 'hundred languages of children' refers to the many different ways children (indeed all human beings) understand, represent, communicate and express, ranging from the language of drawing to the language of mathematics.
In this short introduction, I want to offer my understandings about this theory, including: its meaning, what languages it encompasses and where it originated; the images of the child and the teacher that it assumes; the values (for example, democracy, dialogue, inter-connectedness, uncertainty and wonder) that it embodies; and its implications for early childhood education today, including ideas about learning and the conditions needed to enable these ideas to be enacted.
This will inevitably provoke questions about current government policy, with its focus on a very limited number of languages and readying for a compulsory schooling that emphasises the separation of languages. Malaguzzi wrote in a famous poem that "children have a hundred languages: they rob them of ninety nine school and culture". Is that true of us today? And how might we move to an education that valued and sustained multi-lingualism in children and young people?"
10.25 – 12.30: Working in Many Languages of Learning in Reggio - Annalisa Rabotti (pedagogista, Reggio Emilia.) Annalisa will explore in depth a project which illustrates and reflects on working in multiple languages into an enquiry of children. She will explore both the enriched learning of the children and the educators.
12.30 - 1.30: lunch
1.30 – 2.45: How can we begin to create places for learning in many expressive languages? A participatory exercise, exploring a video'd observation; teasing out many possibilities, applying and valuing principles of enquiry.
2.45 – 3: break
3 – 4: Annalisa will make a final contribution, being a response to questions tabled at close of morning, reflections on issues raised during the preceding exercise, plus a 'surprise'.
Further Conference information and Booking
Book now! Ring 0191 261 7666 if you have particular queries.
"The hand that rocks the cradle needs to rock the boat."
Here in Reggio Emilia it is the first of a six-day discussion and reflection of the members of the Reggio Children International Network, with the officers and pedagogues of the city's early childhood services.
Karen Callaghan of the Reggio Network in Canada, suddenly recalled this motto of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, as we discussed the mood of the representatives.
As it turned out, the phrase was very apt for us, as we began to set to. We are all committed to constructing a strong education, which listens to the children - and we are passionate about informing the international community, politicians, parents, educators, all. It is a pedagogy of hope, as Claudia Giudici, President of Reggio Children reminded us, with this phrase of Paolo Freire's.
Nando Rinaldi, the new president of the Institute of Schools and Preschools of Reggio, said thoughtfully and determinedly, "'knowledge' grows - it is not static or academic, it needs to be lived, it depends on all our participation."
Stubborn and Resolute
Loris Malaguzzi was stubborn and resolute in his vision, Claudia said -a typical person of Reggio Emilia. And in this room of 33 representatives, from 22 countries, there was much of this, We are ready not only to rock the 'boat', but to figure out how to build new ones.