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Reggio Seminar

October 27, 2015

Early Childhood Ireland as the Irish Reggio Children International partners were delighted to host, in collaboration with Reggio Children and Dublin Institute of Technology, an exciting professional development opportunity for the early childhood education sector and the broader education community in Sept 2015.

Over one hundred early childhood professionals, educators, lecturers, students, artists and others attended the one and a half day seminar titled; “The Reggio Emilia Approach to Education: Experiences in Dialogue”

Keynote speakers on the day were Amelia Gambetti and Emanuela Vercalli, Reggio Children International Network Co-chairs. The seminar was introduced by Teresa Heaney, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland and delegates were welcomed to the beautiful venue in St Laurence’s church DIT Grange Gorman Campus by Dr. Maire Mhic Mhathúna, Assistant Head of School, School of Languages, Law & Social Sciences. Dr. Carmel Brennan, Early Childhood Ireland Head of Practice concluded the first day with an emotive presentation on the play based curriculum which included the value and importance of narrative and stories.

 

The setting for this seminar, St. Laurence’s church DIT Grange Gorman Campus, was the ideal location for this inspiring seminar. The campus with its many protected buildings dating from the nineteenth century is of historical, cultural and social significance. In her welcome, Dr. Mhic Mhathúna  outlined how the careful development of this new urban quarter will bring social and economic regeneration to Dublin’s north inner city, has many similarities with the Loris Malaguzzi International centre in Reggio Emilia which is described as a dedicated meeting place where professional development and research intersect, “the catalyst and symbol of the transformation of the city’s north side”. The venue St Laurence’s church was further enhanced by the beautiful work of artists working with RECREATE. The aesthetic beauty of the venue was in keeping with the values and principles of the Reggio approach to education, where the environment is seen as educating the child, in fact it is seen as “the third educator”.

“We value space because of its power to organize, promote pleasant relationships among people of different ages, create a handsome environment, provide changes, promote choices and activity, and its potential for sparking all kinds of social, affective, and cognitive learning. All of this contributes to a sense of well-being and security in children. We also think as it has been said that the space has to be a sort of aquarium that mirrors the ideas, values, attitudes, and cultures of the people who live within it”. (Malaguzzi 1998).  

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The importance of the historical and cultural context of the Reggio approach to education was highlighted and participants enjoyed videos which made clear the fact that this approach to early childhood education is not a curriculum, but an approach which can inspire educators in their own cultural context. The importance of working in partnership with parents and using documentation as a tool to give visibility to children’s learning was highlighted by Amelia Gambetti, with many examples of how the infant toddler centres use documentation to make children’s learning visible to the children, educators, parents and within the community of Reggio Emilia. The poem The Hundred Languages of Children by Loris Malaguzzi gave further visibility to the competencies of children, where children are seen as having a hundred languages by which to express themselves.

Participants at the seminar witnessed the many opportunities the children in Reggio Emilia have on a daily basis to encounter a range of materials and use their many expressive languages while working actively with their hands, minds, and emotions, in a context that values the expressiveness and creativity of each child in the group. Amelia told many stories and gave many examples of how in Reggio Emilia, children’s learning is made visible to the children themselves, educators, parents and the wider community.

Educators had an opportunity to purchase the many beautiful Reggio publications, these books are also available to purchase on the Early Childhood Ireland shop. A big thank you to ReCreate, Reggio Children and Early Childhood Ireland who donated a selection of lovely prizes for the raffle. The two day event offered an opportunity to be inspired by the Reggio approach to early childhood education and to consider how we can use the underpinning values and principles in Irish early childhood education settings.

“Nothing without joy” (Malaguzzi).

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