Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Visit to Reggio Emilia, Italy

It's been one week since I returned from the Dialogues on Education International Study Group in Reggio Emilia. Now that the jetlag has subsided (and finals week is over at our University), I wanted to share just a few of the hundreds of photos that I took on my journey. Here you will see photos of the city, the wonderful place where we stayed, children's creations, and more. Since photos are not allowed to be taken inside of the schools, I will only be able to share what was taken from the outside and when lucky, what I could purchase and photograph. It is my hope that in the upcoming days and weeks, I can also share many of the inspiring quotes that were recorded in my notes during the conference (as well as the notes of the students and preschool staff that attended with me). Attending the International Study Group offered opportunities to learn and grow alongside professionals from Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Labanon, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, UK, Vietnam, and more. After meeting an American who is currently teaching preschool at the American Overseas Academy of Rome, I was also able to visit that school once the study group ended! Enjoy...

Reggio Emilia is a beautiful city where you can stand in awe of historic buildings, walk on cobblestone streets, or find your way into a quaint courtyard (or small piazza). One thing that the Friends of Reggio Children International Association does at the beginning of each study tour is to walk participants through the city center, pointing out important landmarks and points of interest. Here are just a few!

This is my second trip to Reggio Emilia, this time with six university students and some of our laboratory preschool staff. Much of our time was spent at the new Loris Malaguzzi International Center, a state of the art facility that is still under construction. Here you will see a photo of the students in the auditorium, the current entrance to the center, and several pieces that are on display at the center.

The creations of the children in Reggio Emilia are exceptionally detailed and are displayed and documented in museum quality style. Adults honor and respect this work in a way that is inspiring! Within each center that I visited, there were photos of the children engaging with the materials, three dimensional sculptures of metal and clay, weavings, translucent paintings hanging in the sunlight, and much, much more! In one infant center, photos of the children and their work were even displayed on the floor under a durable laminate, so that as children crawled and walked through the center, the photos were truely at their level!

These photos are all taken from pieces that were purchased, given as gifts, or were portions of documentation on public display at the Malaguzzi Center

As I walked back and forth from the city center to the Loris Malaguzzi center each day, my trek took me through a walkway that cut under the railroad tracks. Along this walk, I was excited to discover a running display of children's work to re-create images of 2-wheeled transportation. These panels lined the walls of the walk, including the tunnels, and included children's drawings, photos of metal sculptures, descriptions in several languages, and the children's first names and ages. What an amazing way to beautify a walkway while also valuing children's contributions to the community. At the bottom of this post, you will also see a beautiful painting on black. This is actually a black stage curtain that the children designed for the Ariosto Theater!