Sunday, November 17, 2013

the boundary is like smoke

I slept for nearly 12 hours last night. No, it was not a night of late night fun but a night of much needed sleep (and brain processing) after a week in Reggio Emilia. I was fortunate to be part of the North American study tour, surrounded by bright and passionate educators. After years of studying Reggio (theory) it was quite powerful to experience and see theory in (practice). "Theory and practice are reciprocal; there is circularity between the two." They give meaning and life to one another. Of course this is something we know as educators...that the two are connected. Yet there are moments of rushed impatience, when theory can seem removed from practice.

I've come home with this to think about. What are the core values and theories that I must commit to in the classroom. Here is what I have come up with, for now. I'm referring to each as a re-commitment because they are ideas that have been central to my belief system and practice for years. And there are a few quotes from the week to lend some context (and eloquence)...

a re-commitment to educating for a democratic life: Without sounding too alarmist: Our government and way of life are slowly quickly degrading the fabric of our society. If we do not raise a generation of critical, creative, and flexible thinkers, with a strong sense of empathy, perseverance, and civic-mindedness...then I'm not sure where we will be in 20 years. This week (unexpectedly) renewed my sense of urgency that this is an educational right of all children.
"The school is contrasting our society's indifference and disposable culture. We are invested in democratic education and direct participation." - from Vea Vecchi's talk

A re-commitment to respecting children as protagonists of their own learning journey: Throughout the week it was said that...
"our work as educators is a political act - to recognize and honor children's intelligence. Education is a powerful opportunity and we can not be indifferent - or satisfied with average solutions." - also from Vea Vecchi's talk

When we think about the current climate of pre-k - 12 education this brings a pang of worry to my heart. There are pockets of system-wide good practice, there are always exceptions, but in general our data driven educational climate conveys deep disrespect to children, educators, and families. "The choice of a model of human mind, instead of another one has its own political and social relevance." - Jerome Bruner.  At this moment we are showing we value 'another' over human mind.

A re-commitment to dialogue and the fostering of cognitive dissonance:  We can be so frightened and wounded when our ideas are confronted by an opposing view. Over the week, I was struck by the level of dialogue and the lack of ego. Thoughts and ideas flowed - sometimes even interrupting another - but always with an air of non-ego. It is important for children (and the adults in their life) to share their voice and to listen to other voices in agreement and disagreement. It's how we grow. It's how we contribute. It's how we make way for progress and change.
The idea of school..."School is a place of solidarity and dialogue among differences. It is a community for learning that transmits and builds culture by acting and building the rules that are needed to discuss, to argue, and to compare ideas. therefore, schools are laboratories for a democratic life." - from Tiziana Filippini's talk
Education as water is essential to life and the well-being of the community. - Vea Vecchi
 There's still much more to my waking hours and in sleep.


  1. I'm so excited for you that you were able to go!! I bet it was amazing!!!

  2. It was amazing...if the chance ever arises for you to go, go for it. It was intense and wonderful :)



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