Image of the Child

It seems to me that your image of the child forms the basis for the kind of teacher or parent you are. I notice in my college classes that the image of the child students hold is the most important factor in how successful they will be in planning lessons that will inspire children to make connections and think creatively (and get a good grade from me). Education students who think of children as mainly cute and needy seem to make lessons that are, well, cute and superficial.

What if all teachers took some time to think about their attitudes about children, and how important a school community's view of children is? About how the image of the child changes everything about how a school operates?

I've been trying to write something about the image of the child for an exhibit that will take place at a cool art gallery here in Richmond called gallery5. I hope a lot of Sabot people will come, and I'd really love it if some families or teachers who don't know much about our school would stop by. I've been trying to write something that will introduce the image of the child to people who haven't thought much about it, and came upon these documents which explain more;
I hope the exhibit shows the children as powerful thinkers, strong, competent and, most of all, connected to their community of learners. The UNESCO paper contrasts that "to some other common images of the child as lacking, passive, acted upon, or following a predetermined path set out by adults and/or innate ‘development’"
These two papers are good resources for thinking about your own vision of the child, and they have a lot of other food for thought about documentation as well as materials and environment in schools. The second one is the text of a speech by Loris Malaguzzi, and features his beautiful, poetic language as he talks  about relationship and listening. 
I'm glad to have found them


  1. Hi Anna,

    It warms my heart to know you are finally a full time atelieriata at last! Thank you for planting so many seeds deep inside me years ago. This year I stepped into the role of mentoring my first co-worker. It's been a wonderful and long journey and I often feel grateful for my early years at Sabot.

    As for your blog post, I really enjoyed it, as well as the attached articles. Just yesterday I had the opportunity to attend opal school's yearly symposium. There
    was much food for thought that came from the day but two quotes particulary come to mind after reading your thoughts on the image of the child. Lella Gandini closed the symposium by sharing that in 1946 when Louis Malaguzzi found the mothers rebuilding the schools in Reggio brick by brick, he saw this as an opportunity to start a revolution. She said, "He was inspired to have the languages bring a revolution to education.". (The days focus was on the arts as a language and the role the arts play in social-emotional and cognitive development.). She continued to share, "We couldn't keep doing what we were doing...out of frustration comes possibilities.".

    I first became inspired by the schools in Reggio in 1993 and yet something new clicked for me when Lella put it in terms of a revolution of ideas, of a way of thinking and of being...and yes, it very much begins with our image of children at the heart of all else. The shift for me was honoring that the revolution is still taking place and that we as educators are instrumental in helping it continue to
    spread and take over. Children are not just cute but also oh so much more. There was another quote of Louis Malaguzzi's that I loved but I only got a snide-bit of it written down. It included and was about, "expanding our notion of human capacity," which is also at the heart of the conversation. My mom spent the day with a neurobiologist and she confirmed that children who aren't exposed to complex ways of thinking at a young age lose their ability to gain their full
    potential in thinking and analyzing later on in life. Shifting the context helps reveal the enormous value and importance of this hard work!

    I love to hear that the children's images and words will be displayed at a gallery. Congratulations to you and the opal community.


  2. Hi Marni, it's so great to hear from you! I was just missing you the other day and tried to find you on facebook. Congratulations on your work at Opal. I'd love to hear more about that.
    I especially love that you, too are thinking about the political/revolutionary possibilities of this kind of work. I believe documentation can be a force for change, if we can get it seen by enough people...lets keep talking!

  3. Thank you for your post. The Image of the Child is a huge component of RE, as well as for any educator from a constructivist perspective.
    I agree that one's image of children is the foundation of who we are as educators, who we present to children, how we relate with and uplift their work. It affects everything - how we listen, how we question, how we document, how & of what we take photos.
    I also teach college student-teachers and it is fascinating to have the discussion -- all term long -- of the Image of the Child. To get beyond the 'cute' factor and for teachers to partner with children in their learning are major turning points.
    Good luck with your exhibit!!


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