The story of Italy’s now world famous Reggio Emilia city-run nurseries and primary schools is fascinating and unique, but their award-winning holistic approach to early years education is inspiring more and more schools throughout the world to notice, respect and nurture the multitude (“and a hundred, hundred, hundred more”) ways a child interacts with and makes sense of the world.
Loris Malaguzzi, founder and first director of the Reggio Emilia municipal early years program from it’s conception in 1945 to his death in 1994, wrote the following poem as a powerful manifesto of the values embodied by the Reggio Emilia approach. I love its defiant defence of children’s plethora of ways of knowing and understanding and the unflattering light it shines on the obtuse dualism of grown up wisdom: work versus play; reality versus fantasy; science versus imagination; sky versus earth and reason versus dreams… Why must one preclude the other? Why should they even be considered separate phenomena?? The text in the photo is miniscule, so I’ve written it out fully below for you to enjoy.
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 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 (Original Italian version translated by Lella Gandini) Taken from pages 2 and 3 in Edwards C., Gandini L. and Forman G. (2012) The Hundred Languages of Children - The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation , published by Praeger