It is a common misconception about the Reggio Approach that “everything comes from the child.” Without putting children and teachers on opposite sides of the fence, it is important to consider the role of the adult in the genesis and development of the work. An example:
A school has a shared classroom, where the Yellow Class comes Mondays and Tuesdays, and the Red Class comes Wednesdays and Thursdays. Teachers explained how in past years, children in one class would inevitably ask questions about the other children’s presence–noticed on mailboxes, cubbies, and documentation in the classroom. “Who are these other children?” they wanted to know.
We talked about how the shared classroom could be a rich area for projects and experiences. (See our notes below):
- “Capitalizing on the shared space situation a resource:
Children in the past have noticed the presence of other children. How many ways can you find to encourage exchange and relationship building? Message centers, shared projects, adding on to each other’s work, etc. How can you document this “invisible relationship?” Be ready for recording children’s comments and actions connected to recognizing their other classmates, and their desire (we think) to know them.”
After the first week of school, we had our first staff meeting, and talked about “where projects come from.” Were we being too didactic? Not listening to the children enough? Are these ideas only from the adult? A Yellow Class teacher recounted how one child looked up at the cubbies and asked “Who is that?” If we hadn’t discussed the possibility and potential of the relationship between the two classrooms, if we hadn’t had, as Carlina Rinaldi puts it “sensitive antannae,” would the teacher have picked up on that child’s curiosity? Probably not. How teachers proceed, how they think about the process of progettazione around this “invisible relationship” now depends on the reactions and interactions of the children, documented and analyzed by the teachers. We threw a ball around, children caught it, and so now what?