Reggio Emilia, the Anti-Method of Educating Through Art
This beautiful future emerges at the end of the Second World War, and it includes young children as “the bearers of over one hundred languages.”
The emergence of the Reggio Emilia philosophy, in Italy, is marked by the emotional unease that resulted from the chaos of the Second World War. Many lights emerged from that moment of abandonment, but among them one shone particularly bright: creating a completely different education to that which had been imparted until then, thus breaking with the dramatic undertone of the post-war period. Reggio Emilia launched a beautiful future that included small children as “carriers of over one hundred languages”, as protagonists and beings capable of negotiating with everything that their environment provided.
The school was developed by Loris Malgaluzi, who was a teacher, together with the parents of the towns surrounding Reggio Emilia. The concept was planned for preschoolers and kindergarten students with a very particular focus, which is important to highlight because it is one of the best ideas education has had since: art.
Art as a means or a “medium” more than as a product to develop creativity ––Teachers focus their attention on what children are learning and thinking, and based on that they provide them with tools to make their thoughts visible. In other words, they allow them to trace their cognitive or emotional process in an artistic language so that, once the work is finished, they can have an “infographic” of their own brain and their creative process. They teach children art techniques in order to give them tools to express their mental processes and understand them openly.
Being creative is highly valued in the Reggio Emilia culture. Huge spaces are provided for art studios and exhibition galleries for children. Each classroom has a small annexed art studio, full of materials for children to use. It’s important to mention that materials are usually recycled (glass beads, tubes, basins and ceramic pieces) or natural elements (rocks, pebbles, beans, seeds, dry flowers), and they are displayed in a manner of invitation for anyone to use them.
The premises are brimming with light games that enter through colored water through the windows or by sun-reflecting coins, see-through walls and chairs of different sizes and shapes. In sum, each school designs their invitation so that children will feel like they’re in the middle of, and can make use of, the language of art (which in turn contains one thousand languages) to explain the world that surrounds them and communicate with it. Few schools can boast of such an anti-method as organic and healthy method as Reggio Emilia, which since its birth has not ceased to render fruits throughout the world.
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