A holistic method of preschool education discovered in the wake of the second world war, the Reggio Emilia approach was born in
the war-torn country of Italy, bearing the name of the town it came from. It would be no exaggeration to say that it single-handedly revolutionized early schooling. It is built upon the principle that every child is unique and their ways of expression would be subsequently different. To ensure that no child suffers in their early years from a lack of self-expression, the Reggio Emilia approach’s founder, Loris Malaguzzi, invented the idea of experiential education driven by an environment that does not discriminate between anyone.
The basis of Reggio Emilia is to let the child gain a degree of control over the process of learning via the employment of a two-fold strategy: One, the teacher will abandon the role of a controlling educator, thereby granting the child a certain measure of control over themselves, instead becoming a guide or even a fellow student. Two, the entire concept of an ordered curriculum will be demolished altogether in favour of a stimulating environment that lets a child explore it by themselves, at their own leisure. This multi-level strategy allows children to learn in their own way, through a medium that can be confidently said to belong to them alone. Reggio Emilia’s core philosophy is that a child possesses one hundred different languages of unadulterated expression, ranging from social relationships to art and music. It is a belief actualised through their pedagogy.
What makes Reggio Emilia so fascinating is the dynamic nature of the classroom and curriculum. The teachers constantly change and improve upon their methods as they come to understand the preferences, behaviours, and the unique language spoken by each of their children. Moreover, the evolving interactions between the children themselves gives birth to encounters that further boost growth. For example, a child into music will interact beautifully with another who is into dance. The tune of the first will become the waltz of the second. It is these chemical reactions brought about by human encounter that effects change.
However, the Reggio Emilia approach was built with the children of the town it originated from in mind. Thus, the versatile approach needs to adapt itself with the needs and wants of its users in mind. Even then, it is not easy to apply without a natural disposition inclined towards it. Both practitioners and students need to look for an environment that is conducive to the cultivation of meaningful experience and personal growth.