"Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each." Plato

On visiting two Reggio Emilia schools in the past 24 hours, I cannot put it into words better than Plato!One school was a converted greenhouse the other, a house of a director that was taken over by a group of passionate women. The women managed to gain entry into the house, when in followed a beautiful butterfly, shortly afterwards it became a school and forty years later a butterfly remains the school emblem.

One of many features in the school outdoor space
Materials for the children to engage with

We watched children ages 3-5 years play, investigate, debate, record and thoroughly enjoy what they were doing.

A pair of 4 year old children were observing a tree coming into bloom, this tree had been under their surveillance for months!  One suggested that the leaves of the tree grew at night, as it was more humid at night while the other argued that the leaves grew at night, as that was when magic could take place. The teacher was ready to receive all theories and allowed each child to put forward their case to back up their opinion. If necessary they would return to the others in the class to investigate further, in this case it was not necessary.

A wonderful negotiation to witness, despite not having an understanding of the language directly. With the hundred languages of children, when we really listen, we are open to understand on a new level.

The Hundred Languages
 
The child is made of one hundred.

The child hasa hundred languages
a hundred handsa hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinkingof playing, of speaking.
 
A hundred.
Always a hundred

ways of listeningof marveling, of loving
a hundred joysfor singing and understanding
a hundred worldsto discover
a hundred worldsto invent
a hundred worldsto dream.
 
The child has

a hundred languages(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.They tell the child:
to think without handsto do without head
to listen and not to speakto understand without joy
to love and to marvelonly at Easter and at Christmas.
 
They tell the child:


to discover the world already thereand of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play reality and fantasy
science and imagination sky and earth
reason and dream are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the childthat the hundred is not there.

 

The child says:

No way. The hundred is there.

 
-Loris Malaguzzi

Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach