This section of the website is dedicated to ideas and practices that honor the image of the child. I invite you to read on to learn more.
Reggio Emilia principles view the “image of the child” as being: curious, creative, competent, full of wonder, rich in ideas, keenly interested in the world, able to construct and co-construct their own learning to fulfill their dreams. If purposeful learning is to take place, we need to validate each child’s curiosity, challenge their thinking, and facilitate their pleasure in connecting with the world and constructing understandings. This will result in children who are able think creatively and critically, pursue lifelong learning, and contribute positively to the global community
Education today faces a huge challenge in equipping children with the concepts, skills,strategies and knowledge to successfully navigate the challenges posed by an ever-changing complex, technological and multi-cultural global society. While having a well-articulated written curriculum is a must, it in itself will not automatically ensure that purposeful learning takes place. What matters is how the written curriculum is taught and assessed. It is the quality of teaching that has the single largest impact on the effectiveness of learning.
If purposeful learning is to take place in every classroom, it is important for teachers reevaluate and articulate their “image of the child”. When teachers view children as being capable of creative and critical thinking and able to construct/co-construct their own learning they will be more receptive to discovering the knowledge, skills, behaviors and strategies that underpin current best practices in teaching. For example, exemplary teaching is more likely to occur when teachers understand the importance of concept-based learning to promote deep understanding; the “workshop model” for crafting, composing and reflecting on concepts and strategies taught in all subject areas; and the gradual release of responsibility model to promote mastery of learning. As teachers embrace this image of the child in their mind, heart, and actions, the children they teach will eventually assume this image for themselves and grow as active inquirers and constructors of personally meaningful information.
The natural outcome of honoring the image of the child is that it will lead children and teachers to develop their "sense of agency". What is sense of agency you may be wondering? Here is the definition:
"Experiencing oneself as an active, self-directed agent who can, individually and in-collaboration with others, formulate personally meaningful learning goals, figure out strategies to achieve them, engage the world to pursue them, construct understandings, and communicate the newly developed understandings to others." (We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in an Urban Setting, pg.130)
Since most teachers have been taught traditional teaching approaches, there development toward Reggio/PYP ideas requires them to undergo a major "paradigm shift" regarding the nature of teaching and learning. In the traditional paradigm, the main focus is on the child's acquisition of pre-established knowledge in which there are clearly right and wrong answers. In the Reggio/PYP paradigm, the primary emphasis is on children learning how to construct their own knowledge and understandings. The rightness or wrongness of the answers that they generate is less important that their engagement in learning strategies and processes through which they constitute, re-examine, critique, and communicate their ideas about the world.
Broadly speaking, the difference is between a predominately content emphasis in traditional methods and a predominately process emphasis in the Reggio-inspired/PYP methods. In the former, the teacher's primary role is to be disseminator of knowledge. In the latter, the teacher's primary role is to be a facilitator and researcher of the children's construction and co-construction of understanding stemming from the children's own interests. It is often difficult for teachers to make this shift in emphasis. it requires an accompanying shift in their identities as teachers.
While the predominate emphasis in Reggio-inspired/PYP methods is on process, there is still a concern with content. However, the content of learning is realized through the Reggio/PYP process described above.