Preserved Stories Blog


Reggio Emilia approach has been of interest to early childhood centres and schools world wide, especially in last thirty years (Alison Wells, University of Manitoba)

Given that I began my teaching career (I’ve been retired for eleven years) by working as a supply teacher (without any paper qualifications as an early childhood educator, but with a great flair nonetheless for working with young children) at a day care centre (Snowflake Parent-Child Centre or similar name at 228 McCaul St.) in Toronto over 40 years ago, I have a strong interest in research related to early childhood education. Snowflake was run by parents along with the staff; for a while I served as a coordinator for the centre. On at least one occasion, I played a role in ensuring funding was in place, to keep the centre going. Eventually, after I had moved o  to other things, Snowflake moved to another location, Eventually, it folded.

In those years, while I was still involved with Snowflake, I served as the representative for Toronto co-operative day care centers on the Metro Toronto Day Advisory Committee. I wrote many position papers on  behalf of the advisory committee; in those years I was also working on the side as a freelance writer; I have always been involved with writing, at one level or another.

In those years, I had acquired a Class A driver’s license and was planning on becoming a long-haul truck driver. I was also working as a construction labourer in those years. If you have an interest in writing, these kinds of jobs are a great way to get a sense of how things work, in the world. There’s a lot you can also learn, in academic settings, but the academic view of things can have some quite strong limitations, at least in my experience.

In time, however, as a result of some fortuitous networking, I chanced upon a great opportunity to move into public education; among other things, in those days as is the case now, the pay scale in front line public education was a notch beyond what was available in the day care field.

My sense is that, based on what I know about the research in this area, the pay scale for early childhood educators really warrants being at the same level, as it is for public school teachers. The entry requirements warrant being as high for entry into early childhood teaching, as it is for the public school field. That is not currently invariably the case, as I know from extensive anecdotal observation.

As I have noted (or I think I have noted) at a previous post, I am very highly impressed with the fact that, in Finland, public school teachers are exceedingly well paid, are accorded a very high level of prestige, and are educated by teacher-training institutions, where the entry requirements are very high and stringent. That is how things work, when you want to ensure a country’s children and adolescents receive a first-rate education!

But I am getting ahead of myself. These remarks are meant to be a preamble to the topic of the current post. Because of my writing and experiential background, I do consulting for Rockwood Consulting, which offers consulting to practitioners in the day care field in Ontario.

As a result, I am familiar with the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education, including schooling of children in the primary public school years. I am also familiar with the Ontario Ministry of Education document entitled “How Does Learning Happen?” The latter resource is keen, for good reasons in my judgement, about Reggio Emilia.

Thus I am pleased to refer you to an online PDF paper, entitled: “The Reggio Emilia Approach: A Social Constructivist Pedagogy of Inclusion.” The paper is by Alison Wells at the University of Manitoba. I have not determined the date of its publication; maybe in time I will get around to that.

Despite some spelling/punctuation problems, and occasionally idiosyncratic terminology, I found the paper of much interest. Among other things, I was interested to learn that Reggio Emilia dates from the postwar years – that is, after the fall of Fascist Italy. That was one of the first things I wanted to know, with regard to where Reggio Emilia is positioned, in the history of Italian. education.

I like the way the paper condenses key points.

Click here to access the paper: The Reggio Emilia Approach: A Social Constructivist Pedagogy of Inclusion >

This January 2013 Atlantic article about Reggio warrants a close read

A Jan. 13, 2013 Atlantic article is entitled:

Reggio Emilia: From Postwar Italy to NYC’s Toniest Preschools

This is an awesome article; it gives a good sense of how the Reggio preschools came to be launched immediately after the end of the Second World War. The parents who began the first school learned by doing; they developed their concepts of education as they proceeded. Their approach worked our beautifully.

Their approach resonates with my own introduction to early childhood education. Rather than starting by taking courses, I spent time with very young children. I had preverbal conversations with them; I was highly attuned to communication through body language. I also had great word-based conversation with them. I listened closely to them. They in a sense were my teachers. That to my mind is a great way to learn anything. Just jump right into a situation, and learn as you go.

There are drawbacks to such an approach, as well. There were many untrained people working at Snowflake, during the years I was connected with the centre. Some had great skills in working with children, some did not.

There’s a lot to be said for having a structure, which Snowflake in those days (when I was there) did not have, for helping staff to learn to do the right thing when working with children. And in cases where a staff person is not working out, it’s good to have a structure in place, to ensure that someone, who is not so good at working with children, does not end up working with them.

Another article of interest is entitled:

A July 1, 2014 article at theconversation.com is entitled:

Reggio Emilia: how a city in Italy started an education trend

Learning Styles

By way of an update, a March 13, 2017 Guardian article is entitled: “Teachers must ditch ‘neuromyth’ of learning styles, say scientists: Eminent academics from worlds of neuroscience, education and psychology voice concerns over popularity of method.”

During the years that I was working as a teacher (I retired in 2006), I became aware of the absence of research in support of the “learning styles” concept. I always marvelled, how strongly the concept of Learning Styles functioned as a meme, in the absence of evidence, in the educational system that I was a part of.

That said, students still learned, and educators still did their work. It is the case, even now, from what I can see, base on the evidence I continue to acquire, on an anecdotal basis.

 

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