The presence of “The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit in North America has always been supported by the determination of many individuals whose goals for the exhibit were tied to their interest in raising the quality of early childhood education for children, families, and educators within their local communities. As such, the coordination of the exhibit’s itinerary and the content of the professional development initiatives associated with the exhibit have been based on the aims, desires and particular lens of each hosting community who, in collaboration with Reggio Children, have built strong encounters with the values, philosophies and experiences of the municipal preschool program of Reggio Emilia, Italy for more than 20 years.
Since March of 2005, the NAREA board has been in discussion with Reggio Children regarding the future of the exhibit in North America, particularly with regard to the possible development of a new version of the exhibit to replace the retiring digitalized version. After much debate, in May of 2007, the NAREA board voted unanimously to guarantee the funds necessary for the renovation and subsequent rental costs of a new exhibit. The Municipality of Reggio Emilia has entrusted the management of the new exhibit to Reggio Children, and NAREA has agreed to manage the organization and coordination of the exhibit in collaboration with Reggio Children and representatives of hosting communities throughout North America.
Through analysis, debate and discussion, NAREA has wondered about the relationship of a new exhibit to the purpose of our organization, which is seen as promoting networking, dialogue and exchange. What is important in the visioning and thinking that has taken place so far is that we try to support a spirit of risk-taking and innovation connected to the major challenges that are facing our field, our families and young children. We believe that we must take advantage of our larger vision as a group of colleagues from all over the continent to create a collaborative plan of study and advocacy for the rights of children, educators and families in our countries.
Therefore, NAREA, in collaboration with Reggio Children and various host communities, will coordinate a multi-year professional development series to coincide with the presence of “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit in North America. The objective of this professional development series, which will be achieved through an evolving and connected progression of initiatives and the presence of the exhibit, is to strengthen dialogue and collaborative participation of educators, families, administrators, community members and government leaders within the participating communities with the overall aim of giving more quality and excellence to young children’s early childhood experiences and relationships, particularly with regard to children’s participation in settings such as schools and child-care centers. We believe this professional development series will serve as a vehicle for the evolution of our conversations and thinking together.
Topics of Discussion: These topics may characterize differing amounts of time (i.e., a single conference, a year-long or multi-year symposium) in order to remain flexible and open to resources and choices. Specific content around the topics will be elaborated by NAREA, Reggio Children and exhibit hosts. • Experience and Thinking among children, families, and educators • Systems and Organization to support making learning and thinking visible among children, families, and educators • Environments and Relationships that support thinking and exploration among children, families, and educators • Collaboration and Co-learning within classrooms, schools, and communities • Attitudes and Dispositions as strategies for growth in classrooms, schools, and communities • Standards and Aims as organizers of thinking, projecting, and acting • Advocacy and Education to advance the rights of children, families, educators, and communities • Parents and Participation: Developing and sustaining substantive dialogue with parents • Children and Communities: What are the rights of children in a democratic society and how are they realized? • Time and Action as key elements in the evolution of improving relationships, classrooms, and schools
The objective of the NAREA Professional Development Series will be achieved by:
• Generating regular opportunities for teachers, parents, administrators, community members and government leaders to meet and discuss the values and goals of education and childhood, in order to better understand the various perspectives that exist within the community
• Making the learning and relationships of children, teachers and parents visible through the processes of observation, documentation and interpretation within the school community and throughout the community as a whole • Extending the documentation of classroom experiences of learning and relationships to include connections with the values and goals of parents and administrators, including government/district mandated curriculum standards and outcomes
• Documenting the role of the environment within the school community, in order to highlight the learning and relationships that typically develop within that context
• Organizing an annual exhibit of documentation of the learning and relationships of children, teachers and parents to be shared with community members in a public context (i.e., municipal/township building, library, senior center, school district building)
• Learning how to advocate for the rights of children in the community through the understanding of current policies regarding early childhood education, and issues being addressed by school and government officials; developing the disposition to communicate with school and government officials through e-mail and phone, attendance at meetings and rallies
Each professional development initiative organized in collaboration with the NAREA Professional Development Series by exhibit host communities will include:
• Tours/discussion groups facilitated by Reggio Children and/or NAREA representatives within “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit, which focus on strategies for making learning and relationships visible in order to strengthen dialogue and collaborative participation of teachers, parents, administrators, community members and government leaders • Study tour of local schools, focused on strategies for making learning and relationships visible through the processes of observation, documentation and interpretation • Panel of local educators, parents, school administrators, government officials and Reggio Children and/or NAREA representatives that addresses issues and questions concerning childhood and education, which are developed by NAREA and host community representatives collaboratively • Presentations by local, North American and/or Reggio educators and/or parents about learning and relationships made visible through the processes of observation, documentation and interpretation
• Presentations by local, North American and/or Reggio educators and/or parents about how connections can be made between experiences in the classroom, and the values and goals of parents and administrators, including state/district mandated curriculum standards and outcomes • Presentations by local, North American and/or Reggio educators and/or parents regarding the role of the environment within the school community, in order to highlight the learning and relationships that typically develop within that context • An exhibit of documentation of the experiences of children, teachers and parents in the local community, which can then be moved into a public context following the initiative • Presentation/discussion group regarding school district/governmental policies that affect the local educational community, including strategies for voicing one’s perspective to school administrators and government officials on a regular basis
With this as an organizing view for this project, we believe that “The Wonder of Learning – The Hundred Languages of Children” exhibit will serve as a resource that can support our ability to articulate our thoughts about these challenges in the field of education, what we understand about the work in the schools of Reggio and how this relates to our deep desire to give more quality to children’s young lives and to education in general. We will attempt to frame the possible topics of this professional development series with an understanding of the language of North American education, and of the expectations of policy makers and parents, in order to be aware of who we are as an educational community while trying to build a bridge with the ideas, philosophies and experiences of Reggio Children as a referent for developing strategies in response to these challenges.
Lastly, NAREA hopes to support a diversity of communities who may have limited financial and human resources to host the exhibit so that the citizens of these communities are able to participate. This collaborative project will combine the value and energy of three entities, Reggio Children, NAREA and the exhibit host communities, working together in the best interest of children throughout our continent and the world.
Get in Contact If you are interested in hosting the exhibit or would like more information, please contact:
Thresa Grove, NAREA Exhibit Project Coordinator Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Together, we are empowering exceptional education.