Vea Vecchi book

I am devoted to the ideas about teaching, research and education that have come out of the schools of Reggio Emilia. I am very aware that I teach in a different context than the one these ideas emerged out of. How could I not be, in a place where fried chicken, sweet tea and the civil war define the culture, rather than high fashion, reggiano-parmesano cheese and WWII? I am also well aware that I live in the land of the business model of education, the supremacy of standardized tests and a general view of children and teachers that is very top down and about control. 
The reason I hold R.E. ideas out as ideal is because of their integrity.  This work has the children at it's center. It seems that everything that is said and done by these educators represents the ideas and intentions of the children from who all of the observations and reflections stem. Here is a place where teachers are seen as capable of research and societal change through their practice. I have never seen any of this carried out like it is in Reggio. I admit it, I want to teach in a system that shows as consistent a philosophical integrity as the schools of Reggio Emilia.

Lately, I've been reading the new book Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia, Exploring the role and potential of ateliers in early childhood education by Vea Vecchi. It is the kind of book that I carry around everywhere so I can read slowly. I keep  finding passages that I want to share and discuss. There are 6 unpublished blog posts on my dashboard that are just long passages from this book! Here are a few bits paraphrased from pages 56-59, a conversation between Vea Vecchi, Atelierista, Simona Bonilauri and Claudia Giudici, pedagogistas, where they talk about the reasons for ateliers in schools, the role of theory, listening to each other, and the importance of  being subversive;

Vea Vecchi; If we were to forgo dialectic exchange for too long, ...we would lose the way the schools ..give shape to theory through educational projects and everyday practice, without those theories being betrayed. At the same time, it is important not to be too fond of our theory and to leave space for doubt, to let our 'listening' to cultural social reality, and our listening to children, modify the theories we refer to. Critical awareness is something to be looked after very, very carefully.

In the pedagogy of Reggio, art has been used as a force for breaking away from dominant thought. When you try to understand how children learn, you realize it takes place in a multi-disciplinary and multi sensory way, a way that is already inherent in children.

When children learn, they do it by interweaving and making connections between different languages, and this is exactly what school in a traditional sense does not do, because it tends to separate the languages, which are defined as different subjects, disciplines, fields of knowledge, etc..

The day to day work of observation and documentation of the children's learning processes has been the instrument of interweaving between pedagogy and thinking in the atelier, modifying each other reciprocally. Observation and documentation show how children seek beauty through many languages that are empathetic to each other, not separate  and sequential; how they seek an aesthetics of expression of their ideas and thoughts.

(In designing the schools of Reggio Emilia) it was necessary to make a choice that would not betray the ways of knowing children, of human beings. It was necessary to introduce into the school an element of subversion, with respect to the traditional school and way of teaching, that would render the teaching-learning process more complex, thus more consistent with children's ways of knowing.

What do you think?  Wanna have a dialectic exchange?


  1. Yes!
    I read this book in the summer and I keep it near and dear. Just one phrase can keep me engaged and illuminated for weeks.

  2. I like the quote about art being used as a force for breaking away from dominant thought. I think another way to do that is through the use of laughter. I'm all for subversive humor!


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