Photo Courtesy of Fickr.
We stood among the midday bustle of Piazza Prampolini.
As I soaked in the sights and sounds of small-town, Italy, a thought occurred to me.
This place--Reggio Emilia--and its people paved the way for us, as education professionals, to do what we do. Its school is the genesis of the approach that changed the way the world sees early childhood education.
During a trip to Italy this summer, a group of Fisher College faculty, myself included, and students made a trip to village near the northern Italian city of Bologna.
The trip gave the students firsthand experience at the source of one of the most popular modern early childhood education approaches.
Reggio Emilia is a picturesque town famous for an approach to early childhood education of the same name that has spread throughout the western world since its creation in the aftermath of WWII.
Photo Courtesy of Fickr.
Schoolteacher Loris Malaguzzi developed the Reggio Emilia Approach with the help of parents in the village in an effort to develop an educational system that focuses on children learning through experience, rather than dictation.
The central theory of the approach is that children learn better when they play an active role in their own educations. Students in the program are involved in their educations through experimentation and hands-on learning.
According to the Reggio Approach, children are not just “empty vessels” which should be filled with facts imparted upon them by teachers and parents. Rather the approach encourages a participatory role of children in their education. They add to the pool of knowledge while they draw from it.
Our students got firsthand experience in how the Reggio Approach’s hands-on environment helps young children to understand their environments.
After brief stays in Rome and Florence, our group made the jog north to Reggio Emilia via Italy’s high-speed rail. Once we were introduced to the staff and given a seminar on the approach, I watched as two Fisher students had the opportunity to experienced the same materials that are used in the Reggio Approach.
Exhibits ranged from rudimentary physics lessons on how light and sound affect the environment, to art displays that are created entirely by the young children in these classes.
Even as college students these young women played and experimented like they were children exploring their world for the first time.
Since Early Childhood Education majors study the Reggio approach, among other educational approaches and philosophies, these students got valuable firsthand experience with how the approach can be implemented in different ways.
Both students were impressed with how much fun they had during the experience. And each said they would utilize the techniques they learned in their personal and professional lives.
For more on how you can travel while you learn with Fisher, visit our study abroad page.