Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Review of the Reggio Emilia Approach

An example of non-Reggio teacher-defined and regulated art
Although I have never seen the Reggio Emilia Approach in action, it appeals to me a great deal.

One aspect that I applaud is the emphasis on the process of learning. There is another educational philosophy called the Project Approach that closely resembles Reggio Emilia. I've been told that International Baccalaureate schools teach with an emphasis on learning how to research information rather than memorizing facts. The Project Approach and the Reggio Emilia Approach both seem beneficial to that end. In a world where so much information is available on the Internet and the reaches of human knowledge are constantly expanding, skills to gather, critique, and synthesize information are vital.

What is the Reggio Emilia Approach?

A child's drawing from Reggio Emilia, Italy
The Reggio Emilia Approach is a philosophy and set of practices for early childhood education that were developed in Italy in the city of Reggio Emilia. The approach has gained popularity in America, and while only a handful of preschools are strictly “Reggio,” a growing number are “Reggio inspired.”

The first Reggio Emilia school was opened after WWII. The community was rebuilding, and in a backlash against Fascist ideology, the town wanted to make sure the new school allowed students to define what they learned, rather than allowing traditional top-down teaching. The resulting school was one in which teachers spend a great deal of time observing children and then presenting information of interest to them.