What is the Reggio Emilia Approach, anyway? We talk to many friends and colleagues about the Mays curriculum, but we often find ourselves at a loss for language to describe this educational philosophy. Here are a few brief facts that might help us better understand and communicate what we observe at school day-to-day.
The name for the Reggio Emilia Approach comes from the town in Italy where psychologist Loris Malaguzzi developed her method of teaching early childhood education. Rather seeing children as the as the targets of instruction, Malaguzzi believed that children were natively curious humans who performed better when given a sense of agency. Many lesson plans in the Reggio philosophy treat children as the ‘knowledge bearer,’ and challenge them to explore, observe, learn, hypothesize, question, and become responsible for their own knowledge.
Teaching with the Reggio approach takes the long view of a child’s learning future by teaching the child how to learn. Many of the strategies employed by Reggio teachers include an understanding that mistakes will happen, and use these events as learning tools. By fostering an innate desire to resolve the confusion, students watch teachers ‘troubleshoot’ and learn the steps to solve future problems. The result is an atmosphere of community and collaboration where children and adults are learning side-by-side.