As a result of the then Premier Weatherill’s commitment to quality early childhood education as well as a substantial push from non-government educational sectors a decision was made to attract Professor Carla Rinaldi as Adelaide‘s Thinker in Residence. In 2012 and 2013 she visited our state on three occasions. Professor Rinaldi is the President of the Reggio Children-Loris Malaguzzi Centre Foundation in Italy. She is also a Professor at the Universities of Modena and Reggio Emilia. She has presented numerous lectures at seminars and conferences across Europe, in the United States, Australia, and Asia.
The city of Reggio Emilia hosts international groups of teachers and professionals in the Early Childhood sector several times a year. These study tours provide educators the opportunity to visit several of their schools, get to know the city and community, and be engaged with hands on activities at the Loris Malaguzzi Centre. The study tour also includes lectures where knowledgeable teachers, Atelieristas, and Pedagogical Consultants share their expertise and experiences, in applying the Reggio Emilia principles in Early Childhood Teaching.
Professor Carla Rinaldi has extensive knowledge of children, childhood and learning and she challenges educators to think critically about deeply engrained beliefs about the “culture of childhood and the value of the child as citizen from birth” (Rinaldi, 2013).
Carla noted that in our culture there appears to be a sense of guilt in sending children to Early Childhood settings. She perceived that there was an expectation on mothers to stay at home and raise their children. Carla strongly disagrees with this notion and states that…
“It is the right of the children to go to school not about the needs of the parent to stay at home with their child.
Always going back to the right of the child” (Rinaldi, 2015)
Carla also challenges us to think about the community as a whole. To consider the children not only as our future leaders but as integral members of our community. “The children are our common good and their education is our common responsibility. The big vision of childhood. Childhood as a part of politics and investment and the priority of the community to make visible the child that is not your child. They are not property they are human beings” (Rinaldi, 2015). In Reggio Emilia the children and the community interact regularly. Much of their leaning, enquiry and development occurs as a result of interacting with people, places and things in their city. Their final works are displayed in public places and include not only the children’s and teachers voices but those of members of their community too.
For a final thought about challenging the way we view childhood, education and development; let’s remember the traditional African adage of ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. This proverb has been readily quoted by professionals and researchers as they support the necessity to examine all the contributing factors which effect maturation.
Thanks to our commitment and engagement with our partners in Reggio Emilia and Carla’s residency South Australia has a critical mass of people who are researching the principles from the Reggio Emilia approach and are continually learning as they trial various ways of implementing the principles in the South Australian context.
At the Ranges ELC we are continually challenging our practice and beliefs to align with the principles of Reggio Emilia teaching. Of significant importance to us is family and community involvement. We will endeavor to improve our ability to combine our children’s learning into the broader community in a truly meaningful manner.