Monday, 15 August 2016

A relationship with Reggio...

The word "relationship" popped up many times during my week here in Ontario...

a relationship with words
a relationship with the materials
the materials having relationship with each other
a relationship with colleagues
a relationship with the children
and of course a relationship with Reggio... coming to understand what it means for you and how it can be a part of your context.

I visited the "Wonder of Learning" exhibition at the beginning of the week... and of course I had a relationship with the exhibition itself, with the way Reggio was being shared, with the messages being shared etc...

My initial reaction was one of disappointment... this pedagogical philosophy with its hundred languages was not sharing with me in the languages which I communicate best in... my hands-on learning was not there... even the models which I sped and rushed towards as it reminded me of something I had seen in the MIT museum in Boston, which was very hands on, turned out to have a BIG "Do not touch" sign on it. This is the film I took in Boston last month... and I just have to share because I am still fascinated by it.... the model I saw also had wheels... but it was instead about positioning the model to reflect the light and creating a path of light from the outdoors into the indoors with a series of the machines with mirrors on...

The film will come at a later date... having problems at the moment with uploading... I will resolve this when back in Sweden!!!




I needed to spent time with the exhibition on my own at first... to interact with it o my own terms and to re-discover the messages being conveyed....

I found that it would have been good for someone to have "translated" a panel for me, so that I could better understand this language of communication... to have then gone on to interpret the rest of the panels on my own...

It was not clear to me at first that the information that said "3-5 years" was not a description of the fact the children in this project were 3-5 years old working together - which is a VERY probable way of working in my context, but referred to the fact that the children were three years old when they started the project and five years old when they finished... that these few panels (for each area) were selected points of learning from a two year project.

The panels were very much about the children's learning... and about the children... the educators sis not have a big focus... This got me thinking about equality... for me as a Reggio/Malaguzzi inspired educator it is about being co-researcher... we are partners children and educator together (and the parents an the material etc) - so the absence of the teacher in the panels felt like there was an inequality in the relationship as c-researcher. The children were given priority... and thus feeding the idea that we FOLLOW the child. Following the child, to me, means there is inequality... the child is the leader. I am not after this relationship with the children... I want to LISTEN to their ideas, I want to collaborate with them, research with them, discover with them, find theories together that we explore, that my input is valued as much as their input...
This brings me back to Hawkins "I, Thou, It" and the idea we are a triangle... with the educator, the child and the project/idea.  You can read more about this concept of Hawkins here (Hawkins Center). Its is a relationship - child, educator and project with equal status, equal potential and equal value. This idea of equality I want to return to in a later post...

As part of my learning journey I have studied several areas of learning... History, Classics, Ethnology, Sociology, Pedagogy, Epidemics, Museum Studies.... the latter gave me the chance to explore how people use exhibitions... of course I had a family/teacher bias to how I looked at this, but I found it interesting to see how panels were read by the general public...

I found panels with lots of text tended to overwhelm people, and often, even though they were interested found it hard to focus to read everything...
This was very much the case at "The Wonders of Learning" exhibition... so if you do plan to go, maybe think about going many times with the intent of exploring just one set of panels.

We develop a relationship with the panels... and of course the panels are somewhat of a monologue... which could mean you end up in some sort of isolation with your thoughts...
There is great benefit of visiting the exhibition together with others... I value my dialogues with Diane Kashin, Debi Keyte-Hartland and Cindy Green during my visit to the exhibition. It gave me the chance to take a new look, to see with their eyes... to listen to the panels with a new perspective.
This is a valuable relationship to have... friends and colleagues who support you to listen and see with a broader perspective... the gift of understanding deeper, more levels of complexity... or to give you that pedagogical somersault you never knew you needed (or was looking for).

The relationship with materials... what materials are we putting out for the children to interact with... why those materials? What is the intention?
Is there a tendency to put out a whole smörgåsbord of materials... or is time taken to think about the relationship the materials have with each other. Is there intent that the relationship is communicative... ie that the materials work together for children to explore... or maybe they are hostile towards each other and don't work well... and yet there is an intentionality with that thought too... for the children to explore ideas of non-collaboration. Sometimes less is more... especially when it is being thought out and materials are not just being placed there just because they are available. What materials are you putting close to each other? Are you presenting a material on its own... why... what materials could then further enhance the learning and wonder... in the image beloww there were agates on the light table... and further across the room a tower of perspex blocks... by moving the blocks closer to the agates there became a new wonder of seeing the agate through the block... new theories started to form about why things looked bigger and shifted within the block...

this is why we need to think about the materials we use... it is also why it is important we give ourselves time to play with the materials to make some of these discoveries ourselves



This relationship with materials and between materials is something I will no doubt be exploring more in the coming year as I research the Third Teacher in the context of our preschool...



1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this thought provoking post. I plan to read the information on your link to David Hawkins.

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