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ES 3219: Early Years Education, Week 10:


is the guiding genius of Reggio the thinker whose name deserves to be uttered ... In contrast with theorists such as Pestalozzi ... Loris Malaguzzi 1920-1994 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: ES 3219: Early Years Education, Week 10:

ES 3219 Early Years Education, Week 10
  • Malaguzzi The Reggio Emilia Approach

Simon Boxley, 2007
Malaguzzi in perspective
  • Malaguzzi… is the guiding genius of Reggio
    the thinker whose name deserves to be uttered in
    the same breath as his heroes Froebel,
    Montessori, Dewey, and Piaget. (Gardner, 1998,
  • In contrast with theorists such as Pestalozzi and
    Dewey, Malaguzzi successfully managed to
    establish, maintain and grow a system of
    education that realised his philosophy in

Loris Malaguzzi 1920-1994
  • 1945 Malguzzi became involved in building
    schools with parents from the bricks and girders
    remaining in the desolation of post-war Reggio
  • Worked in a middle school for seven years before
    leaving, condemning its stupid and intolerable
    indifference towards children, its opportunistic
    and obsequious attention towards authority, and
    its self-serving cleverness, pushing prepackaged
    knowledge (Malaguzzi, 1998, p.50)!
  • He then went to Rome to study psychology before
    returning to Reggio Emilia to start a mental
    health centre for children with difficulties.
    During this period he ran the centre in the
    mornings and worked the afternoon and evening at
    the small parent-run schools for poor and
    undernourished children which had been
    established in the rubble of war.
  • Things about children and for children are only
    learned from children (ibid., p.51) This dictum
    prepared Malaguzzi and his fellow workers during
    the 40s and 50s for the establishment of the
    first Reggio Emilia municipal school in 1963.
  • By 1967 all the parent-run schools in Reggio
    Emilia had been taken over by the municipality,
    after a long campaign, which took place as part
    of a wider political struggle for publicly
    supported schools for 3-6 year olds.
  • 1971 published first works Experiences for a
    New School for Young Children, Community-Based
    Management in the Preprimary School
  • 1976 Backlash from the Catholic Church which
    attacked the schools as corrupting children and
    threatening the religious school establishment
  • 1980s-early 1990s Reggio Emilia reputation
    started to spread, via conferences and
    exhibitions to Scandinavia, and the United
    States, and globally, including to the UK (where
    it may have influenced the thinking of the
    authors of the Foundation Stage Guidance).
  • 1994 Malguzzi died suddenly.

Malaguzzi Influences
  • Malaguzzis thinking shows a wide range of
    influences, not all educational
  • US and European progressive education (Dewey)
    e.g. as seen in British primaries in the
  • Piagetian and Vygotskian constructivist
  • Italian postwar left-reformist politics.

Malaguzzi Reggio Emilia Institutions
  • Infant-toddler Centres
  • 4 months-3 years
  • First established 1971
  • Based on the idea that the youngest children are
    social beings they possess from birth a
    readiness to make significant ties with other
    caretakers beside their parents (ibid., p.62).
    it is not so important whether the mother
    chooses the role of homemaker or working mother,
    but rather that she feels fulfilment and
    satisfaction with her choice and receives support
    from her family, the child care centre, and, at
    least minimally, the surrounding culture (ibid.,
  • Set up in opposition to proponents of John
    Bowlby, and to the Catholic Church
  • Focus on careful transition from focussed
    attachment on parents and home to shared
    attachment to adults and the infant-toddler
    centre environment
  • Allows children to live together for 5-6 years
    through infant-toddler centre into preprimary
  • Preprimary schools
  • 3-6 years

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • Born of a vision of the future experienced after
    the war to give a human, dignified, civil
    meaning to existence, to be able to make choices
    with clarity of mind and purpose (Malaguzzi,
    1998, p.57)
  • Derived as much from emerging practice, from
    culture, politics and economics as from theory
    or pedagogical models.
  • Reggio is an approach rather than a coherent
    theory. Indeed Reggio proceeds as if operating
    with more than one theory. Theory is
    legitimate only if it deals with problems that
    emerge from the practice of education and can be
    solved by educators (ibid., p.86)(rather,
    presumably, than by academics).
  • A unifying theory of education that sums up
    all phenomena of educating does not (and never
    will) exist. However, we do indeed have a solid
    core in our approach in Reggio Emilia that comes
    directly from the theories and experiences of
    active education and finds realization in
    particular images of the child, teacher, school,
    family and community. (ibid. pp 84-5)

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • Malaguzzis writing contains an explicit critique
    of instrumentalism and technicism (as theorised,
    for instance by Foucault Weber) and of
    commodification (cf. Marx)
  • Specific rejection of the factory-model which
    presupposes the application of technologies to
    produce pre-determined outcomes of particular
    types this is able to use these predictions to
    quantify cost-benefit ratios and efficiency of
  • Preprimary school is not a preparation for
    elementary school such a model imprisons
    teachers and children. Nor is it about the
    production of potential workers/labour-capacity.

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • Principles
  • Children have a great deal of choice over where
    to be within the setting
  • They can work in small groups with or without an
    adult, inside or outside.
  • Malaguzzis model is of a city of courtyards and
    piazzas, with market stalls to which children may
    turn and return.
  • Children encouraged to explore and express
    themselves through all of their available
    languages cognitive, communicative, creative.
  • Partnership among parents, educators and
  • Classrooms organized to support a collaborative
    problem-solving approach to learning
  • Joint exploration among children and adults.

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • Planning and curriculum
  • There is no curriculum (or guidance) which,
    Malaguzzi argues, would humiliate the Reggio
    schools, and subject them to the power of
    publishers (profiteers, and the State Church).
  • Instead, each year a new series of related
    projects are proposed. These themes serve as the
    main structural supports, but then it is up to
    the children, the course of events, and the
    teachers to determine whether the building turns
    out to be a hut on stilts or an apartment house
    or whatever (ibid., p.88)
  • Rather than planning, there is reconnaissance
    A flight over the available resources, human,
    environmental, technical and cultural
  • Preview seminars, workshops and meetings with
  • Teaching and learning does not have to be
    entirely improvised because of anticipation of
    what is not yet known two thirds uncertainty to
    one third certainty.

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • Planning and curriculum The Project
  • No whole class instruction all small group work
    (2-4 children).
  • Small groups engage in project-learning
    in-depth, sustained investigation inspired by
    Dewey, and similar to the best examples of
    Plowden-era practice in the UK.
  • Project work
  • Helps children make deeper and fuller sense of
    events and phenomena in their environment
  • Allows them to make their own choices in
    collaboration with teachers and peers about the
    type of work to be undertaken
  • Strengthens childrens confidence in their own
    developing intellectual powers and shapes their
    dispositions towards learning.
  • Projects rely on a level of pertinent
    expectations about the kinds of choices the
    children will make, their methods, and the
    adults methods of intervention. Some of these
    expectations arise in initial discussion.
  • Adults continually review what has been happening
    in the project, setting up new situations to
    facilitate further development, with minimal
    direct intervention.

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • Planning and curriculum
  • From talk to representation, the observing adult
    scribes, and uses the record as a stimulus to the
    next discussion and action
  • Children may revisit what they have done
    individually or in groups
  • Graphic representations clarify and refine ideas
    in the translation from one (verbal) language to
    another (graphic)
  • Pairs of children working together should have
    discrepant abilities, but not be too widely
    separated. This allows for the greatest
    possibility of relations being established on the
    basis of exchanging ideas.

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • The One Hundred Languages of Children
  • Because 1-4 year olds cannot readily express
    their thoughts in writing, other ways are
    employed to record their their memories,
    hypotheses, predictions, observations, feelings
    imaginings, through
  • Graphic languages
  • Dictations
  • Dramatic play
  • Graphic languages can be read and documented
    and serve as the basis for next steps in a
    project. Graphic representations are displayed as
    part of a process (rather than as products, or as

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • An education based on relationships
  • Learner and teacher cannot just relate to one
    another they have to relate about something. In
    UK schools Bruner showed that the content of the
    relationship was largely managerial issues,
    feedback, performance, routines, rules, etc. In
    Reggio, the content of the relationship is the
    work itself techniques, materials, ideas.
  • Children know at a preconscious level that
    teachers take their work seriously
  • Children must have the same teachers for three

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach
  • An education based on relationships
  • Child-teacher interactions should not devalue the
    role of the adult Malaguzzi favours a ping-pong
    match model of interaction.
  • Relationships as sites of dynamic conjunction
    rather than cosseting
  • Development of identity which comes from
    recognition from teachers and peers
  • The system of relationships has in and of
    itself a virtually autonomous capacity to
    educate (ibid., p.69)

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach Pedagogical
  • Pedagogical documentation is
  • photographs, recordings and transcriptions of
    discussion, work at different stages, and, more
    recently, video - making pedagogical (or other)
    work visible and subject to interpretation,
    dialogue, confrontation (argumentation) and
    understanding (Dahlberg Moss, 2006, pp.
  • an antibody to assessment and normalizing
  • a mirror of individual experience and the basis
    for finding images of others with whom to engage
    in dialogue.

Malaguzzi The Reggio Approach Pedagogical
  • Documentation
  • Makes the processes of learning the basis of
    dialogue with parents
  • Allows children to develop a greater depth and
    extensiveness of understanding of their own work
  • Supports the memory, offering children the
    opportunity to re-read the process
  • Supports self-evaluation and group evaluation of
    the theories and hypotheses of each child
  • Allows parents to become intimately aware of and
    involved in their childrens work in school
  • Allows teachers a way of researching childrens
    understandings and intentions, providing a basis
    for future planning and strategy
  • Allows progress and learning to be approached in
    a way that does not require tests, standards or
  • Enables parental expectations to be changed and
    challenges assumptions about parenting roles
  • Allows parents to see how much teachers actually
    do, how they work together to plan, research and
    record, and offers a model of a co-operative

Malaguzzi The Amiable Environment
  • Architecture and layout are very important to
    Malaguzzi (as, for instance, open-plan schools
    were for progressive pedagogues in 1960s/70s
    Britain, or, indeed, as the Victorian
    schoolrooms plan was to maintaining discipline)
  • An attempt to integrate educational aims with
    potential for the organization of work in order
    to facilitate maximum movement, interdependence,
    and interaction. (Malaguzzi, 1998, p.63)
  • Combination of contiguous space and
    differentiated areas.
  • The atelier school laboratory/studio large
    space for experimenting with separate or
    combined visual languages (ibid. p.64) plays a
    central place in the Reggio Emilia approach. In
    addition mini-ateliers for each classroom allow
    project work to be sustained.
  • The walls speak and document (ibid. p.64).

Malaguzzi Adults roles
  • Note on categories of staff in the Reggio system
  • Pedagogisti one per several schools more
    highly trained in psychology, pedagogical
    documentation, etc
  • Atelieristi one per school, based in the
    atelier, often artists or those with a background
    in visual arts
  • Teachers several per school

Malaguzzi The Role of the Pedagogista
  • Pedagogisti
  • have an integrated philosophical, administrative,
    technical, pedagogical, social and political
  • guarantee the coherence and consistency of
    education across the Reggio Emilia municipality.
  • apply social constructivist and interactionist
    pedagogy to developing teachers ideas and
    working with teachers to identify new themes and
  • support relationships between teachers and

Malaguzzi The Role of the Atelierista
  • Atelieristi
  • develop creative expression of children
  • read and research childrens drawing,
    representation, documentation, etc
  • guide children in their projects
  • provide workshops for documentation
  • analyse childrens processes of learning and
    interconnections between childrens ideas,
    activities and representations.
  • The atelier
  • a laboratory or place of research
  • a space rich in materials, tools, and people
    with professional competencies (ibid. p.74)

Malaguzzi The Role of the Teacher
  • Malaguzzis favoured metaphor for the role of
    the teacher was Ariadnes Thread (Rinaldi,
    2006, p.54) because, like the lifesaving thread
    in the minotaur myth, the Reggio teachers task
  • giving orientation, meaning and value to the
    experience of schools and children (a way out
    of the labyrinth). Teachers seen as those who
    hold the thread, who construct and constitute
    the interweavings and connections, the web of
    relationships, to transform them into
    significant experiences of interaction and
  • (Rinaldi, 2006, pp.54-5)

Malaguzzi The Role of the Teacher
  • All teaching is co-teaching
  • Co-teaching is the basic unit of collegial
    management and partnership structures.
  • Teach nothing to children except what children
    can learn by themselves (Malguzzi, 1998,
    p.73)(echoes of Pestalozzi and Froebel).
  • Stand aside for a while and leave room for
    learning, observe carefully what children do, and
    then, if you have understood well, perhaps
    teaching will be different from before. (ibid.,
  • Malaguzzi lists among undemocratic teaching
    strategies, directives, ritualized procedures,
    systems of evaluation … and rigid cognitivistic
    curriculum packages (ibid., p.83).
  • In a critique of Vygotskys ZPD, Malaguzzi warns
    that it potentially readmits the old ghosts of
    teaching that …the Reggio approach tried to
    chase away (ibid. p83)
  • His answer is the principle of circularity
  • We seek a situation in which the child is
    about to see what the adult already sees. The gap
    is small between what each one sees, the task of
    closing it appears feasible, and the childs
    skills and disposition create an expectation and
    readiness to make the jump. In such a situation,
    the adult can and must loan to the child his
    judgement and knowledge. But it is a loan with a
    condition, namely that the child will repay.
    (Emphases added) (ibid., p.84)

Malaguzzi The Role of the Teacher
  • It is possible to observe readiness if one
    disregards the clock and pays attention to what
    is not expected.
  • The child…dies if he does not sense that the
    adult is close enough to see how much strength,
    how much energy, how much intelligence,
    invention, capacity and creativity he possesses.
    The child wants to be seen, observed and
    applauded. (Malaguzzi, in Rinaldi, 2006,
  • Whilst theory and practice are reciprocal,
    practice takes precedence over theory, as relying
    on theory prevents teachers from being
    protagonists in the educational process, from the
    responsibility of educating (the parallel is with
    the child as protagonist both teacher and
    learner are researchers).

Malaguzzi Creativity
  • Malguzzi emphasized that there is no opposition
    between intellectual capacities and creativity,
    but rather that the spirit of play can pervade
    also the formation and construction of thought
    (Malaguzzi, 1998, p. 77)
  • Creativity should not be considered a separate
    mental faculty but a characteristic of our way of
    thinking, knowing and making choices.
  • Creativity seems to emerge from multiple
    experiences, coupled with a well supported
    development of personal resources, including a
    sense of freedom to venture beyond the known.
  • Creativity seems to express itself through
    cognitive, affective, and imaginative processes.
    These come together and support the skills for
    predicting and arriving at unexpected solutions.
  • The most favourable situation for creativity
    seems to be interpersonal exchange, with
    negotiations of conflicts and comparison of ideas
    and actions being the decisive elements.
  • Creativity seems to find its power when adults
    are less tied to prescriptive teaching methods,
    but instead become observers and interpreters of
    problematic situations.
  • Creativity seems to be favored or disfavoured
    according to the expectations of teachers,
    schools, families, and communities as well as
    society at large, according to the way children
    perceive those expectations.
  • Creativity becomes more visible when adults try
    to be more attentive to the cognitive processes
    of children than to the results they achieve in
    various fields of doing and understanding.
  • The more teachers are convinced that intellectual
    and expressive activities have both multiplying
    and unifying possibilities, the more creativity
    favors friendly exchanges with imagination and
  • Creativity requires that the school of knowing
    finds connections with the school of expressing,
    opening the doors (this is our slogan) to the
    hundred languages of children.
  • Malaguzzi, 1998, pp75-7

ES 3219 Early Years Education, Week 9
  • Malguzzi The Reggio Emilia Approach

References Abbott, L Nutbrown, C. (2001)
Experiencing Reggio Emilia implications for
pre-school provision, Buckingham Open University
Press Dahlberg, G. (2000) Eveything is beginning
and everything is dangerous some reflections on
the Reggio Emilia experience in Penn, H. (Ed)
Early Childhood Services , Buckingham
OUP Dahlberg, G. Moss, P. (2006) Our Reggio
Emilia in Rinaldi, C. In Dialogue with Reggio
Emilia Listening, researching and learning,
London Routledge Edwards, C.Gandini, L.
Forman, G. (Eds.) (1998) The Hundred languages of
Children The Reggio Emilia Approach Advanced
Reflections, London Ablex Publishing
Corporation Malaguzzi, L. (1998) History, Ideas
and Basic Philosophy An Interview with Lella
Gandini, in Edwards, C.Gandini, L. Forman, G.
(Eds.), The Hundred languages of Children The
Reggio Emilia Approach Advanced Reflections,
London Ablex Publishing Corporation Rinaldi, C.
(2006) In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia Listening,
researching and learning, London
Routledge Soler, J. Miller, L. (2003) The
Struggle for Early Childhood Curricula
acomparison of the English Foundation Stage
Curriculum, Te Whäriki and Reggio Emilia,
International Journal of Early Years Education,
11 ( 1), pp.57-67
Simon Boxley, 2007