Wednesday 10 August 2016

I am NOT Reggio Inspired

The last few days have been rich in dialogue with Debi and Diane… exploring our ideas and our thoughts about the pedagogy of Reggio Emilia… and also how it seems to be perceived around the world… since we sit together as Sweden, UK and Canada we bring an international perspective to the dialogue.

I have now come to the conclusion that I am NOT Reggio inspired…

I have realised that I am Malaguzzi inspired…

This has been coming on slowly… I kind of discomfort with calling myself Reggio inspired - a feeling that it was not explaining my relationship with this pedagogical philosophy. As I am one of the admins of the Facebook group Reggio Emilia Approach, I often read descriptions of Reggio that do not reflect my relationship or understanding of this approach… and I feel I do not want to be defined by this either… That the definition of Reggio by others (and yes it should look different everywhere as it should reflect your context) is not something that I want to be defined by… especially this move that Reggio IS natural materials, that Reggio IS beautiful environments with neutral colours etc etc… as for me the approach can be so many things, and is so much more complex…

I want to return to Malaguzzi… to be inspired by this man who took inspiration from many to weave his pedagogical fabric… a fabric that was always shifting and changing to meet the needs of the children, teachers, parents, setting, time…. taking inspiration not just from the pedagogical world but from the whole world… from all sorts of experts… and non-experts, across a great diversity of academic fields…

Brain research has come leaps and bounds… we know and understand so much more about the developing brain than during the time of Malaguzzi… information I am sure he would have been eager to have incorporated into this approach to learning with children.

I am inspired by many.. Malaguzzi, Hawkins etc are obvious ones… but also my husband and all his knowledge in sleep research have expanded my understanding of children's need for sleep, rest and cognitive development and health… of course all the teachers I meet… in real life and online inspire me a great deal… my own childhood inspires me… remember what I liked, what I disliked, what got me all fired up…. these memories help me connect with the children… remembering how I felt as a child… connecting with my childhood allows another perspective of today's children.
Listening to Diane's husband talk about eyes… (this is his area of expertise) and how eyes are being damaged by early reading (requiring glasses)… as eyes were not designed to read… this makes me want to research more into more about the effects learning has on the biology of the child…

Of course I could go on and on here about all the sources of inspiration - but that is not the point of this post…

MY inspiration in Malaguzzi is the fact that there is a willingness to be open to all knowledge… to actively to look for more knowledge to better understand the knowledge you already possess or to send you into a pedagogical somersault… to force you to rediscover what learning is … what teaching is.
His passion for children… the respect… the desire to create something new, not by inventing the wheel but by recycling what already exists. His belief that children are competent and that we are co-researchers. His image of the child.

Having just read Roald Dahl's BFG recently to the children I have vivid memories of the BFG travelling to dreamland and collecting dreams… which he mixed up to create new dreams for (mainly) children. So now I have this image of a teacher collecting ideas - from research, from society, from colleagues, from parents from the children, from the world around us - and mixing them up to create new ideas for the children… with the children.

OK… I need to sleep… to dream…
and the rest of the week… this #Rhythm2016 … a possible "idealand" to collect ideas…?


  1. To begin your research on children's eyes... Children who spend less time outdoors are at greater risk for developing myopia.

    Thanks for your passion Suzanne.
    Erin (a fellow dreamer)

    1. many thanks for sharing the link... as soon as i get the time I will be reading this with a passion... I have just skimmed through it... and have shared ti with Diane and her husband already. thank you thank you Erin

  2. I love reading your posts! Thank you for so eloquently putting into words your journey of understanding and discovery. The image of us as teachers collecting ideas from everywhere made me laugh! My head is so full of ideas and thoughts and more are added each day. No one idea is the one that makes it all make sense, it depends on the day and it depends upon the child that day at that moment. I am a passionate learner and hope to cultivate that love of learning in all the children I have contact with! I had the pleasure of listening to your talk at the Acorn school a couple of years ago and you spoke about imagination and fairies. Since then fairies have had quite an impact in my classes, sparking the children's imagination opening them up to wonderous possibilities not just of fairies but of he world around them.

    1. thanks for your feedback Brenda... yes sorting ideas, connecting them and making sense of them is almost a full time job!!

  3. Beautifully put, and inspiring too.
    Hilde Stroobants

  4. This is so simply put and yet so complex. It is an issue I have thought about quite a bit lately. People do so want to standardize things to fit across the board. In some sad ways Reggio Inspiration has become homogenized in some people's theory and practice. This is so sad because it is actually the opposite in my opinion. It is alive and growing and learning and changing - organic not static. Because the approach is so complex, some people are not delving in enough to get the whole picture. I just read THREE BLIND MICE by Ed Young to the children. The viewpoints of the mice about the elephant are somewhat like people who "look" at Reggio philosophy in part only. One sees only creme backgrounds, one long range projects, one photography or one loose parts. None are the whole.

  5. Hi Suzanne, thank you for sharing your thoughts ( always very insightful and thought provoking ) and your journey. I've been following your blog for a couple of years now and you have inspired me to strive my best, to continue to re- think and re- construct my teaching practices and philosophies.

    1. thank you for taking the time to read my blogposts Gladys, and for your feedback... it makes it even more worthwhile knowing that it has inspired someone. And I will be doing the same thing... re-thinking, re-constructing and after Christmas starting on putting all of this together in a book.

  6. Reading your thoughts makes me miss Malguzzi although I have never met him…
    It seems perhaps you are inspired by his freshness and being genuine in all times, as it is expressed in the texts and a few videos.
    There is no "copy –paste" or "design" in what he has created with Vea Vecchi, and Carla Rinaldi as well later on.
    I believe he was not afraid to be flexible and absorb different perspectives, as his deep roots were the belief in the power of a child to find the way.
    I believe that this was his deepest root and anchor.
    I think you are much the same. You have deep root in your optimism and humanity and deep respect the human child.
    Thank you!

    1. I agree... the child ... then the research, the learning, the information gathered all supports that...

  7. I would that any educator, of any pedagogy would take hold of your words here, replacing their own key philosophy with “Reggio.” Montessori is what I know best, but I see/feel the necessity to be “open to all knowledge.” Thank you.