When we stumbled upon this excellent video introduction to the educational philosophy of Reggio Emilia, with Carla Rinaldi, we thought we would take the opportunity to briefly share the history of the Reggio Emilia approach to education.
First, it's important to realize that Reggio Emilia is, foremost, the name of a city in northern Italy. In the aftermath of World War II, amidst destruction and ruination, the parents around the community banded together. They decided that the greatest investment in the future that they could make, was to focus on the needs of their children. Not only that, though, they were "convinced that the best thing was to build a school... A school is a symbol, not only to educating (sic) the children, but to educating themselves." What a beautiful philosophy of life.
Second, we think it's equally important to understand that Reggio Emilia is not necessarily a pedagogy that can be replicated or scaled. It's based on a passionate community, intricately involved and committed to education. It is equally focused on collaboration, self-discovery and the environment. In a way, this is precisely why Reggio Emilia is such an exemplary model, because it highlights that education in the twenty-first century must depart from the factory style of learning.
In so many respects, there are major overlaps between Montessori and Reggio Emilia: architecture, self-education and community, to name a few. In fact, Loris Malaguzzi, the person often credited with founding the Reggio Emilia approach to education, recognized their indebtnedness to Montessori. There are also a number of differences, which we can articulate in another discussion.
We'll leave you with a few thoughts from Carla Rinaldi, from the excellent, and highly recommended, Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia, by Vea Vecchi. When prompted to comment on inter-disciplinarity, Rinaldi responded: "We consider inter-disciplinarity to be essential for seeking new answers and new questons, which our times call form. Ours is a true 'season of design', when it is indispensable to dare the new and design the future."