Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Emilia Exchange is a quarterly periodical published by the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA) that focuses on the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Innovations was developed in 1992 through an agreement with Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia educational project, and continues to be developed in solidarity with the Preschools and Infant-Toddler Centers, Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, Italy; Reggio Children; and the Reggio Children – Loris Malaguzzi Center Foundation.
The mission of Innovations is to provide an ongoing professional development resource that respectfully represents the values and educational principles of the municipal infant-toddler centers and preschools in Reggio Emilia as well as those of educators in schools, centers, universities, and colleges in North America and beyond who are actively engaged in the study of the Reggio Emilia approach with children, colleagues, and families in their community.
In an effort to include more and diverse voices in an increasingly democratic dialogue among early childhood educators who are engaged in the study of the Reggio Emilia approach, Innovations will publish one peer-reviewed issue annually. This annual peer-reviewed issue will include articles that are meant to support collaboration among teachers by integrating reflection and analysis of the shared and reciprocal research and inquiry of teachers, children, and families. In addition, the peer-reviewed issue will include reflections related to each article that are written by one of the consulting editors with the goal of inviting readers to relate what they have read to their own contexts. Our intention is to support the work of Reggio-inspired teachers in North America by thinking together through deeper and more complex analysis and reflection of our own work and that of our colleagues.
The process for peer review has been designed to reflect a shared view of learning as a process of individual and group construction and to support the learning processes of children and adults through educational documentation, which includes listening, observation, and interpretation. Our goal is to establish a collaborative partnership among educators, children, families, and community members for systems change and social justice that recognizes the rights of children to quality education.
In the municipal preschools and infant-toddler centers of Reggio Emilia, Italy, the theory of the hundred languages is one of the principles of the educational project. The educators in Reggio Emilia believe that “children possess a hundred languages, a hundred ways of thinking, of expressing themselves, of understanding, and of encountering others, with a way of thinking that creates connections between the various dimensions of experience rather than separating them” (Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, 2010, p. 10). Relatedly, in an article in the Spring 2010 issue of Innovations titled “Dialogue with Materials: Research Projects in the Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy,” Mirella Ruozzi, an atelierista for the Municipality of Reggio Emilia since 1975, writes:
The atelier brings into the school the importance of the artistic and expressive languages, considering that they are important filters for listening to others. Languages are capable of keeping together irrationality and reflection, emotion and understanding, sensitivity and cooperation, creativity and inquiry, expressiveness and literacy, and also aesthetics with the exploration of numbers. In Reggio, the atelier has never been considered to be a specialized or a separate place. The visual language has always participated and been interwoven with all the other different fields of knowledge. The atelier and the expressive languages have also served to build bridges between all the various disciplines. In an educational project that aims to focus on the connections between the various disciplines rather than the separateness between them, this brought into the school a greater awareness of all the hundred languages of children, including those traditionally considered within the pedagogical discipline. (Ruozzi, 2010, p. 3)
Within the Reggio Emilia educational project, the “hundred languages are a metaphor for the extraordinary potentials of children, their knowledge-building and creative processes, the myriad forms with which life is manifested and knowledge is constructed” (Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, 2010, p. 10). Vea Vecchi, atelierista at the Diana school from 1970–2000, writes about the culture of the atelier in relationship to knowledge and learning in “The Atelier: For a Richer and More Comprehensive Knowledge of New Cultural Visions” in the Fall 2012 issue of Innovations:
[T]he atelier is a place of provocation. The atelier is a place that guarantees that knowledge and learning are taking place with the mind and the hand as well as rationality and emotions connected. The atelier is also a physical place where products are conceived and produced using different materials and techniques. It is a place where the authors of these products are children and youth working alongside adults who have learned how to listen—teachers who support the children as they are carrying out their own research, listening to the questions that the children ask themselves—teachers who try not to impose their own ideas on the children—teachers who allow the children to be the protagonists of their own imaginations and their own strategies for learning as much as possible. It’s precisely because nothing has been prefixed that the atmosphere of the atelier is one of attention toward research that involves the children as well as the adults. This kind of atmosphere creates cultural excitement—the excitement of thought processes. This is a very productive atmosphere for advancing your thinking.” (Vecchi, 2012, p. 2)
In the December 2015 issue of Innovations, Vea Vecchi discusses the relationship between learning, knowledge, and creativity in “Children Seen as Protagonists of Their Growth and Learning Processes – The Secret of a Raindrop”:
Creativity will . . . save us from the obsessive certainty that our way of thinking is the only right way of thinking. I am very grateful to the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, which situates the poetic languages as important and enriching elements of learning and of human knowledge. I would like to focus on creativity because of how important it is for learning and building knowledge. We hear a lot of talk about creativity as an important aspect of research and innovation but, in reality, the actual concepts of creativity are often betrayed. . . . This betrayal of creativity not only takes place within the great discourses but also within everyday reality—when a question is asked for which there is only one answer—when we do not accept any hypotheses that are different from our own—when something is repeated ad nauseam. (Vecchi, 2015, p. 4)
The Reggio educators further assert that the “hundred languages are understood as having the potential to be transformed and multiplied in the cooperation and interaction between the languages, among the children and between children and adults” (Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, 2010, p. 10). In his interview with Lella Gandini, Reggio Children liaison in the U.S. for dissemination of the Reggio Emilia approach, published in The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation, Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia educational project, reflects on the relationship between the languages among children and adults:
[The atelier is] . . . a place where children’s different languages [could] be explored by them and studied by us in a favorable and calm atmosphere. We and they [could] experiment with alternative modalities, techniques, instruments, and materials, explore themes chosen by children or suggested by us . . . What was important was to help the children find their own styles of exchanging with friends both one’s talents and one’s own discoveries.” (Gandini, 2012, p. 50)
Later in the interview, in response to Lella’s question regarding the power of graphic expression, Malaguzzi adds:
The use of graphic expression comes from the need to bring clarity. There is also the fact that the child intuitively becomes aware about what this new code can produce from now on. As they go from one symbolic language to another, the children find that each transformation generates something new. . . . Another reason that children like to pass through graphic representation is that they feel it as something that consolidates solidarity of thought, of action, of perspectives of other children. I could say that graphic expression serves more as a tie that favors collaborative capacities, so that the game of learning among children allows for discoveries to continue, following one after another. (Gandini, 2012, pp. 66–67)
The editorial staff of Innovations is inspired and intrigued by the theory of the hundred languages of children that our Reggio colleagues have shared with us in the references cited above and in countless other publications. We share their belief in the role of creativity in learning and their view of children and adults as capable of collaborating together on constructing meaning and expressing their thinking through experiences with materials and media as languages. Therefore, we are interested in manuscripts from North American educators from diverse contexts, communities, and cultures that support the topic “The Theory of the Hundred Languages: How Representation With Materials and Media Becomes a Language for Expression and Learning.”
We are interested in the authors’ conceptual understanding of the Reggio Emilia approach and in-depth analysis of the learning and thought processes of the children and adults. How did the experience evolve? How were decisions and choices made? What was the role of the children, the teachers, and the families? We would like the manuscripts to include the documentation of children’s use of materials and media to explore, develop, and represent theories and thinking along with the teachers’ interpretations and related projections. Our goal is to enable readers to think alongside the authors about the children’s use of media and to consider the role of materials and media as languages in the learning process. Manuscripts should include citations and references to published work by Reggio educators and others that support the authors’ ideas and are accompanied by a layer of interpretation by the authors.
We are interested in manuscripts that focus on some of the following aspects of this topic:
Interested educators must submit a proposal for the manuscript they would like to submit to Judith Kaminsky by September 15, 2017. Those submitting will receive responses regarding approval by October 15, 2017. Proposals must include:
Those whose proposals are approved must submit their manuscript by December 31, 2017. When submitting a manuscript to Innovations, please follow the following formatting and submission guidelines:
The peer-review process for the September 2018 issue of Innovations will be based on that of the September 2017 issue. The Innovations editors and consulting editors will be considering possible revisions to last year’s process in the coming months. Details of the September 2018 issue peer-review process will be published in the September 2017 issue of Innovations and posted on the NAREA website.
Gandini, L. (2012). History, ideas, and basic principles: An interview with Loris Malaguzzi. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, & Forman, G. (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia experience in transformation (pp. 27-72). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
Preschools and Infant-Toddler Centres, Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia. (2010). Indications – Preschools and infant-toddler centres of the municipality of Reggio Emilia. Reggio Emilia, Italy: Reggio Children.
Ruozzi, M. (2010). Dialogue with materials: Research projects in the infant-toddler centers and preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Exchange, 17(2), 1–12.
Vecchi, V. (2015). Children seen as citizens who are active protagonists of their growth and learning processes – The secret of a raindrop. Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Emilia Exchange, 22(4), 4–9.
Vecchi, V. (2012). The atelier: For a richer and more comprehensive knowledge of new cultural visions. Innovations in Early Education: The International Reggio Emilia Exchange, 19(4), 2–7.
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