The Hundred Languages of Children, third edition is here!

The Hundred Languages of Children 3rd edition is full of inspiration and ideas, as all of the books are. For me, reading these kinds of books is a way to shake off weariness and renew my capability for "the art of becoming surprised and amazed by children" and what they can teach me about teaching and about being.        
(Loris Malaguzzi)

For a while now I have been trying to understand more about documentation and its role in learning for children, parents and teachers, as well as its potential to make political change. Learning to use pedagogical documentation is one of those things that requires lots of time for trying, reflecting, and trying again. In light of moving out of preschool to work with older children, I especially want to figure out if documentation should or can be used in primary and middle school.

Part three of the book is called 'Documentation as an Integrated Process of Observing, Reflecting and Communicating'... just what I need! Here are some quotes;

Brenda Fyfe talks about documentation as valuable for emphasizing children's thinking and processes of meaning making, and for helping children learn to self assess their own processes.

Gunilla Dahlberg writes that documentation "promotes the idea of the school as a place of democratic political practice by enabling citizens, young and old, to engage with important issues such as childhood, child care, education, and knowledge. It opens up a public space, a forum in civic society, where dominant discourses can be visualized and negotiated." 

"As a tool for assessment and evaluation, pedagogical documentation represents and extremely strong antidote to the proliferation of assessment and evaluation tools that have become ever more anonymous and decontextualized -objective and democratic in appearance only. The language of evaluation -namely, the language of standards and accountability... builds on a highly administrative rationality, a rationality seeking the best methods and procedures for delivering a predefined body of knowledge with predetermined outcomes... instead, documentation is an alternative language of evaluation -the language of meaning making." 

These are fighting words in an era of standards and standardized testing. Even so, this book is focused on early childhood education. We will have to struggle with the question of documentation and its role in elementary and middle grades a while longer. Maybe the answers will be revealed when I read the rest of the book!


  1. I've been meaning to read it, sounds like the perfect time to pick up a copy! Do you recommend it for parents as well as for teachers?

  2. Sure, I think everyone should read them! You might want to start from the first edition (which changed my life, in a good way). It is really the foundation. This edition seems less dense, while the first two have a beautiful, poetic tone in a translated-from-Italian way, but are a bit harder to read.

  3. Hi there! I've just finished reading Vea Vecchi's book "Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia". I loved it! I keep going back to it to remind myself of some of the beautiful phrasing (and also to re-read the bits where she gives her very honest opinions on the current state of standardised education!) I've been reading your blog regularly these last couple of years and always enjoy what you have to say. I have been working with some of the principles and philosophies of Reggio Emilia with my 5 and 6 year old classes for about 8 years. Thanks for your comments and insights. Regards, David

  4. I so agree with you about documentation - it has huge potential, and takes much reflection, reworking and finessing to use effectively in the classroom. It has changed the way I teach, and it has changed the way my PreKindergarten students see their own work. It has definitely changed the way the rest of our PreK-thru-8th grade sees our classroom - certainly with more awareness and respect for what we do.

    Do you recommend reading the third edition if you've read the first two?

    I enjoy your blog and your writing.



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