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, written by one of the Consulting Editorial Board, with the goal of inviting readers to relate to their own contexts what they have read and experienced as members of a collaborative. Our intention is to support the work of Reggio-inspired teachers in North America by thinking together through deeper and more complex analysis of, and reflection on, our own work and that of our colleagues. The peer-review process 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 collaborative partnerships among educators, children, families, and community members for systems change and social justice that recognizes the rights of children to quality education.
The first exhibit of the children’s work and accompanying documentation from the schools in Reggio Emilia was entitled, “The eye, if it leaps over the wall.” As Loris Malaguzzi explains:
The meaning behind this was that the eye (the mind, pedagogy, the education of a child) begins to see, to reason and to renew itself to the extent that it is able to leap over the wall…the wall of the banal, the rhetorical, the wall of conformity, of inertia and official reticence (Malaguzzi, 1987, p. 16).
Perhaps the most important word in that title is “if.” Sometimes, events help us to be aware of the walls we have built, and the walls that perhaps have defined us. These walls may be made of assumptions, of power imbalances, of long-established practice that has become invisible, of comfortable banality that has seduced us with feelings of confidence in the absence of questions and challenges. Walls can define binaries: qualified, unqualified; in, out; good, bad. They can also help us to see when we have made a change, when we look back and see that we have made the leap, that the wall is behind us.
The pandemic we have all faced can certainly be seen as a wall, a demarcation of before and after. Through this globally shared experience we have strengthened our awareness of how deeply we value relationships, of how we have taken for granted people who are doing jobs that are now recognized as essential, and of how citizens can come together to act in the interest of all. We discovered that when we pressed pause, our planet began to breathe again. What will we do now? We can see it as Malaguzzi did, as a call to leap. Will we race to re-establish the old “normal,” or blow on the embers of these fragile sensibilities to build a bonfire around which we might gather? Will we build a new road to walk on, together? Can we summon the courage to embrace uncertainty, knowing that the word “courage” comes from the French word for heart?
We have here children and adults who are looking for the pleasure of playing, working, talking, thinking and inventing things together. They are trying to get to know both each other and themselves, and to understand how the world works and how it could be made to work better and be enjoyed in friendship (Malaguzzi, 1987, p. 22).
Embracing nostalgia for the future, Malaguzzi’s words are timely. We invite educators to consider with optimism the intentions that you will be foregrounding in coming months and years. What changes will become urgent? What stories will you tell of this difficult but crucial and exhilarating task of the leap over the wall, when you walk with children and families and communities to see how the world “could be made to work better and be enjoyed in friendship”? How will you respond to the provocation of Malaguzzi’s “if”?.
To help illustrate the topic—With the courage to leap: Responding to crisis with ingenuity, creativity, and love—the following are guiding questions to consider in your work:
As in the past, we are asking authors to submit a proposal describing the context, focus, and key elements of the experience that will be more fully discussed and analyzed in their manuscript. Interested educators must submit a proposal to Thresa Grove by October 5, 2020. Those submitting will receive responses regarding the status of their proposal by November 20, 2020.
Proposals must include:
Authors of accepted proposals must submit their manuscript by January 15, 2021. We ask you to submit a manuscript that includes information detailed in the proposal (see above) as well as the following additional elements:
Additionally, please follow these formatting guidelines:
Further details can be found on the Peer-Review Process document.
Malaguzzi, L. (1987). The hundred languages of children. I cento linguaggi dei bambini: The hundred languages of children [Exhibition Catalogue](1st ed., pp. 16-19). City of Reggio Emilia Department of Education.
Malaguzzi, L. (1987). Commentary: Towards a code for reading the exhibition. I cento linguaggi dei bambini: The hundred languages of children [Exhibition Catalogue](1st ed., pp. 16-19 & 22-24). City of Reggio Emilia Department of Education.
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