Re-Mixing Reggio

A  Remarkable Visitor

This week we had the honor and pleasure of welcoming Lella Gandini to our ELC. As Lella encountered our setting she did so with respect and thoughtfulness, noticing every detail and searching for our children’s voices. Dr. Lella Gandini is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Visiting Scholar to Lesley University, and a consultant in the municipality of Pistoia, Italy.  She is liaison for Reggio Children for the dissemination of the Reggio Approach in the United States.  She conducts research, lectures, consults and writes in Italian and English on many issues in early childhood teaching, parenting, nursery rhymes and fairy tales, bedtime rituals, and parent-teacher-child relationships.  Among her many publications, she co-edited and contributed to The Hundred Languages of Children:  The Reggio Emilia Approach – Advanced Reflections (with Carolyn Edwards and George Forman; 2nd ed., 1998), and her most recent publication The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation, Third Edition (2012).

Re-Experiencing Reggio Emilia

I have been to Reggio Emilia on a study tour two years ago and observed some of the preschools, seen the town, had face-to-face dialogue with the people who work in Reggio schools, attended lectures by leading educationalists in Reggio. This was a significant experience for me. This week I was able to re-consider my understanding of the Reggio educational project through another lens as Lella Gandini visited our ELC and presented workshops.

What is so special about Reggio Emilia?

Reggio Emilia is a small and historic town in northern Italy. It has become internationally renowned for its provision for young children. The seemingly unique approach, where children from infancy to 6 years of age can learn in a community with others, has stimulated much international interest. I was impressed by the respect given to the potential of children, the organisation and quality of centre and preschool environments, the promotion of collegiality and the ethos of co-participation with families in the educational project. I am inspired by the profound theories about children and their learning, views of children as strong powerful, competent learners with the right to an environment, which is integral to the learning experience. These deeply held beliefs make you ask questions, require deep thought, inner interrogation about what you think, what you believe, and how those thoughts and beliefs are manifest in your work with and for young children. The capacity to provoke is perhaps one of the greatest and lasting legacies of any personal encounter with the Reggio Emilia experience.

Continuing the dialogue

The Reggio Emilia Educational Project is a constant source of inspiration and wonder for me. I re-read ‘The Hundred languages of Children’ with renewed energy and a different level of understanding, adding another layer to my interpretations.

The Hundred Languages

No way. The hundred is there.

The child

is made of one hundred.

The child has

a hundred languages

a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinking

of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred

ways of listening

of marveling, of loving

a hundred joys

for singing and understanding

a hundred worlds

to discover

a hundred worlds

to invent

a hundred worlds

to 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 hands

to do without head

to listen and not to speak

to understand without joy

to love and to marvel

only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:

to discover the world already there

and 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 child

that the hundred is not there.

The child says:

No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi (translated by Lella Gandini)
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

 The Re-Mix

Kirby Fergerson suggests that everything is a re-mix.

Everything is a Remix Part 4 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

That ideas, behaviours and skills are copied, transformed and combined. That new ideas emerge from old ones. Using the term re-mix alongside Reggio Emilia almost seems blasphemous however in effect that is what we are doing. Only the preschools in Reggio Emilia can be called Reggio schools. We can be inspired by what we understand of the Reggio schools and re-mix our understanding with our own rich context. What happens in Reggio is very much tied to its history, its politics, its economics and their values and beliefs in creating a just and civil society. They suggest to us that as soon as you cut something off from its roots it will die so their challenge to educators all over the world is not to treat this as a model, but rather as an inspiration to continually search for the best as we ask the questions – Who are we? Who do we want to be? Reggio is a body of pedagogical thought and practice inextricably intertwined with cultural values. It is not a stable model producing predetermined and predictable outcomes, and the implementation of their values and beliefs are constantly evolving and changing. In considering Reggio Emilia, it can provide a lens through which to view and deconstruct my own work, to make the invisible visible, to question the taken for granted and to act as a co-constructor in the process of learning and producing some understandings and new practices.

Looking at Reggio, experiencing Reggio Emilia is helping me to learn something more and to think again about early childhood education and care.

What do we hope for children?

What do we expect from children?

What is the relationship between school and life?



This entry was posted in 1.0 CERTIFICATE IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES, 1.3 Visual Literacy: Effective Communicators and Creators, 3. PEDAGOGICAL RESEARCH AND PRACTICE and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Re-Mixing Reggio

  1. Kim Cofino says:

    Love this! I’m always so impressed to see how you take the big ideas from our weekly readings and you’re so quickly and seamlessly able to apply them to your setting and context. The idea that every Reggio school outside of Reggio Emilia is a remix is awesome – for sure you’re bringing in elements of the host country culture, and your own vision and understanding of the Reggio process together in a unique way that can only happen in your classroom here at YIS.

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