Reggio, Rights, Reality and Beauty

I never wash the play-dough bowl because I love the way it looks with history of  past play-dough colors clinging to the sides like layers of rock.  On occasion when people have come into the classroom to help, they have scraped and washed the bowl because they feel a clean bowl is a beautiful bowl. So..who is in charge of beauty in these classrooms? For sure we cannot achieve objective reality on that topic can we?

I never wash the play-dough bowl because I love the way it looks with history of past play-dough colors clinging to the sides like layers of rock. On occasion when people have come into the classroom to help, they have scraped and washed the bowl because they feel a clean bowl is a beautiful bowl. So..who is in charge of beauty in these classrooms? For sure we cannot achieve objective reality on that topic can we?

Reggio practice is a wonderfully holistic model that has flowed from theory, experience, practice and reflection. I love that it values collaboration, projects and natural light, and goes beyond children’s needs into children’s rights… and that conflict is embraced as a learning opportunity… that parents are welcome at school… and that teachers facilitate and guide learning… cuz… that’s how I roll.

I do have some things I wonder about.

I have had the opportunity to visit schools who claim to be Reggio Emilia in approach. Great attention is paid to an environment of “beauty”, and I sometimes think that there is confusion about who is the lover and judge of all this “beauty”.

I worry that for the most part it is the grownups who are ultimately in charge of all that because it is they who design the rooms, lay the pens out neatly and who arrange the bouquets and table settings for the children according to their own beauty and order constructs. In observing the children in these settings I have seen some wonderful stuff… but I have also seen some tightly controlled classrooms.

Yes..people work well in an orderly environment and can also tidy up when they are ready to stop for the day.
If there is going to be hubbub and excitement it is important to know where the feathers are. Or where can I find red paint and brushes, or where the heck are the shovels, the hammers, the nails?

What do children find “beautiful” and how do we know?
Is the concept of beauty taught or implied culturally?
Is a mud-hole beautiful?
(Did you ever get sand in your teeth?)
Is the grime of exploration lovely? And how do you feel about scribble scrabble?
Or brown?
Or cut paper bits all over a table and spreading out onto the floor?
Or splashes and sploshes of paint on the floor and paint footprints leading to the sink?
Or gardens where every rock has been overturned because people were looking for creatures?

What do you mean when you state that there is no such thing as objective reality? Do you mean that each journey of discovery will be different and at diverse levels of understanding as we move forward and grow? I agree about that…

But objective reality exists.. though perceptions of it may differ.
For example; I am pretty sure the ice caps are melting and this is objective reality… and when I drop a rock it falls to the ground…

In any case, in the spirit of searching for school that can change the world..
Explore this: 

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Stephen Singer: Top 7 Ways Technology Interferes with Learning in Classroom

Important observations about reading actual books and different ways the brain responds to devices.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Stephen Singer explains the ways that technology impedes learning. He is not opposed to technology. He is opposed to its overuse and misuse.

Way #1:

1) It Stops Kids from Reading

I’m a language arts teacher. I want my students to read.


I could simply assign readings and hope students do them, but that’s not practical in today’s fast-paced world. When kids are bombarded by untold promises of instant gratification, a ream of paper bordered by cardboard doesn’t hold much of a claim on their attentions.


So like many teachers, I bring reading into the classroom, itself. I usually set aside class time every other day for students to read self-selected books for about 15 minutes. Students have access to the school library and a classroom library filled with books usually popular with kids their age or popular with my previous students. They can pick something…

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Safe, seen, respected and encouraged to be brave

Schools that can change the world have to be places where people can feel safe, seen and respected. In essence, the schools provide the space so people can do the work.

Teachers nurture, facilitate, guide, challenge and support the work.

Please share your thoughts. Comments are looked forward to.

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The Highlander Folk School

That the center has been damaged significantly by fire caused by  a white supremacist group is devastating . I visited there in 2013 on my cross country research trip, “In Search of Schools that Can Change theWorld” . Yes, this is a school that has managed to make an important impact on the world. MLK, Rosa Parks, and many others gathered here to plan important actions of the civil rights movement.
I am hoping the meeting room was not destroyed. Rocking Chair circles of the most extraordinary have taken place there over the years.

This is an aspect of the history of the civil rights movement that is not generally taught in schools…though there are some groundbreaking exceptions..this article is referring to Martin Luther King. The Highlander Folk School was a school that supported the development of leadership within the civil rights movement.

“On 2 September 1957, King joined with the staff and the participants of a leadership training conference at Highlander Folk School to celebrate its 25th anniversary. In his closing address to the conference, King praised Highlander for its “noble purpose and creative work,” and for its contribution to the South of “some of its most responsible leaders in this great period of transition” (Papers 4:270).

In 1932 Myles Horton, a former student of Reinhold Niebuhr, established the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. The school, situated in the Tennessee hills, initially focused on labor and adult education.By the early 1950s, however…

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The College Admissions Scandal: Why Am I Not Surprised?

This is what privilege does. Now tell me there is no class system in the US

Diane Ravitch's blog

When I first heard about a federal investigation of cheating and rigging of the college admissions process on behalf of wealthy people willing to pay, I completely misjudged the ramifications. I was not surprised.

Why was I not surprised? I was not surprised because admission to elite colleges and universities has long been rigged, though not as blatantly as the latest scheme. In the present story, ringers were paid to take the tests, and test answers were changed by proctors on behalf of students whose parents paid the price. That’s awfully blatant.

The old-time rigging was more subtle. Start with legacy admissions. If the college had eight applicants for every place, a student whose parent or sibling went to the same institution was likely to be admitted despite his or her grades or scores. That’s unfair.

Then there is the rigging that occurs when the college puts too much weight…

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Going Up the Slide… No Bullies Showed Up!

via Going Up the Slide… No Bullies Showed Up!

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Joy Partnering and Brave Learning

Children need nurturing communities that meet their needs. They require an environment that encourages and supports exploration, discovery, courage, trial and error, imagination, creation, self regulation. Oh and the joy-don’t forget the wonder and joy and the all out hilarity. In this way children can begin to make sense of a confusing world. Adults need/must be an integral part of these communities as facilitators, guides, brave explorers, caretakers and joy partners. This way we make sense of a confusing world together.

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What’s going on here?

An Inside and Outside Classroom.

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Progressive education ( constructivist) is based on scientific theory and research, providing a framework for educators to transform theory to practice.
A quality progressive classroom is thoughtfully planned to provoke and evoke critical thinking in an atmosphere that is both intellectually challenging yet relishes and honors the spirit of childhood. Expect action, dirt and the hum of industry. Project work is collaborative, facilitating the involvement of people no matter their skill level or development. People learn to listen to and to appreciate the abilities and ideas of others. And to learn from them. The educators role is to guide and facilitate the process. Not to dictate or control expectations of product.
Play is understood as being incredibly important and so the environment welcomes it, supports it, and provides extended periods of time for the process. There is no recess. There is no need for it. People are active physically and intellectually all day.

Any questions?

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It is tricky for educators and parents (adults) to find effective ways  to facilitate compassionate, democratic school classroom communities. Facilitate means guide. Guide. Not dictate. Not exert &…

Source: Democracy in the Garden? Quick thoughts..

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Time to do this…time to do go to go to art…now do math in groups…spelling time…now eat your go to the toilet. Now do your mindfulness breathing so you can “let it go”. Kids and teachers are regulated all day long in school. Just stop it.  

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