Reggio Emilia Conference
The ‘great forest installation’ at Africa’s Reggio Conference, was an invitation to create and share a vision of children’s rights, to cultivate ecosystems that share ideas, information, resources.
As we prepare to establish an affordable, excellent & integrated / transcultural school, Soul Action has been researching innovative models of education. In June, Rachel had the privilege of attending a 3-day conference on the Reggio Approach to education. The conference takes place annually in Jo’burg. The theme of this years conference was ‘Enquiry-based learning: making thinking and learning visible’.
Marina Castagnetti shared every morning. She has many years of experience of working as a teacher at a pre-school, and at the Documentation and Educational Research Centre in Reggio Emilia in Italy. Her sessions were theoretical, and included photo and video examples of how the theory was, and has been, put in to practice in schools in Reggio Emilia. They helped to consolidate understanding of:
- the view of the child – competent, courageous, curious, creating learning paths
- the role of the teacher in an approach which respects the rights of a child
- research – proposing and developing projects
- the use of documentation (photos, videos, notes) to make children’s learning visible
- how the physical space needs to be a place which children and adults want to inhabit
Since first sharing our vision, we’ve spoken a lot about a place of learning where children from various cultural and economic backgrounds are integrated. South Africa is still a very segregated society, and education sustains the situation; Phil often says that school is where our children ‘learn’ how to live separate lives; the results of which we see in society.
At the conference, Harold Gothson, from the Reggio Emilia Institute in Sweden shared how education is a necessary tool for a renewed sense of citizenship – one that is global, democratic, ecological and transcultural. His explanations on what it means to be transcultural has expanded my thinking on education.
‘Transcultural’ means the bringing together of elements from different cultures. ‘Transcultural citizenship’ is depicted by a positive attitude to diversity and a willingness to connect and dialogue with the ‘other’. We believe that society is richer when children – as citizens – from different cultures come together and share. Diversity should be celebrated as a tool for learning; research shows diverse classrooms improve learning for everyone, enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
‘Children appreciate and are stimulated by diversity. Children are our teachers in their belief that difference is not a problem but a gift’ (Delrio).
Transcultural is a far better word to describe what we are aiming at, since it encompasses all the benefits that diversity & integration offer to children and society.