Common Misconceptions About Reggio-Inspired Education
Here at Bambini, we are Reggio-inspired and evidence of this educational philosophy can be seen throughout our programs.
Even though we demonstrate our philosophy in many ways, we sometimes encounter misconceptions about Reggio-inspired education. Whether these misconceptions are articulated by educators in the field, other centres, or families who were given misleading information, we thought we would take some time to address some common misconceptions about Reggio-inspired programs.
THE COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT REGGIO-INSPIRED EDUCATION
There are numerous myths and misconceptions about what a Reggio approach to learning is. This article will hopefully dispel those myths and educate individuals of what Reggio-inspired truly means.
Reggio is a person who came up with this approach to education.
Reggio is not a person but rather, Reggio Emilia is a town in Italy where this pedagogy about education originated.
The Reggio-approach can be replicated.
Since Reggio Emilia is a town and a community in which this process of education evolved, it can not be replicated.
If a program stipulates they are a Reggio program and they’re not located in Reggio Emilia, then they are sharing a falsehood.
A program, however, can be Reggio-inspired. This means that they’ve seen the benefits of Reggio and may be incorporating some fundamental inspirations into their own program.
A provocation for learning is a play space.
Early education programs sometimes may showcase pictures of their “provocations” but quite often, their provocations are simply play spaces. As the Fairy Dust Teaching website asserts, “a provocation will PROVOKE thinking!”
As a result, a proper provocation is open-ended, which means that the possibilities of the materials are countless.
When a program sets up a road with cars, a farm with animals, or a toy house with furniture and people, these are NOT provocations but rather they are play spaces.
However, a table set up with rocks and shells, or a space with yarn and sticks are provocations because the educators are leaving the creative thinking process up to the child.
For instance, with the table of rocks and shells a child could:
arrange the rocks and shells to make an interesting pattern
use the rocks to make roads and pretend that the shells are cars
can sort the rocks and shells based upon their characteristics
make a “soup” out of the rocks and shells and pretend to serve it at their restaurant
assemble a building by stacking and piling the rocks and shells
As you can see, the possibilities are numerous!
However, when an educator sets up a play house with toy furniture, this is not a provocation but rather a play space. The expectation is that the child will “play house” with the materials. The materials are closed-ended… there are toy people, furnishings, and a house. The opportunity for the child to explore outside of the scope of “house” are minimal.
Reggio-inspired educators require formal training.
With the Reggio-inspired approach, there is no formal Reggio-training like there is for Montessori or Waldorf schools. The Reggio-inspired approach involves a merging of the child, family, educator, and community to create an ideal explorative environment for the child.
However, a quality Reggio-inspired program will have educators who may have visited and observed the Reggio schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
For instance, some of our Bambini team have had the opportunity to visit Reggio Emilia. You can look through some of the photos from their trip here.
In addition, there are frequent opportunities in the Reggio-inspired program for educators to explore and learn more about the Reggio philosophy (whether that be through inservices, workshops, meetings, etc.).
Burlap, natural items, and plants make a program Reggio-inspired.
Reggio-inspired programs set themselves apart in that they embrace the philosophy that “the environment is the third teacher”.
This doesn’t mean that by decorating bulletin boards with burlap (rather than coloured paper) that a program is Reggio-inspired. It means that intention and great thought is put into the materials that are used both in play and in decor. For instance:
a large gourd may be placed on a table with a book about gourds beside it
a basket of framed photos of the children and their families may be available in the toddler room
a bulletin board may be covered with burlap, photos, and documentation of the children’s recent project on how they grew their own vegetables
a large driftwood or a sea shell may be a centrepiece on the table at lunch
the reading / book centre may be set up to feel like a cozy corner of an actual home
a car tire and steering wheel might be on the floor for the children to explore (because a few of the children might have a keen interest in vehicles
the children’s artwork is displayed with great care and respect
Much thought is given into the materials and the environment. As a result, the aesthetics of the program are often shifting and adapting to best represent the learnings and interests of the children at that particular time.
The Reggio-inspired approach to early learning is often misunderstood. Hopefully these common misconceptions about the Reggio-approach, combined with the article: What it Means to Be a Reggio-Inspired Program will help you navigate what it truly means to be a Reggio-Inspired Program.
JENNIFER BLY is the Communications Consultant for Bambini Learning Group, a published author, and creator of The Deliberate Mom, a website full of parenting and homemaking inspiration. Jennifer has over 20 years of experience in the Early Childhood field. In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.