Connecting Art, Science, and Design: Reggio Emilia

Connecting Art, Science, and Design: Reggio Emilia

by Carolie Sly

Reggio Emelia

At the end of our seminar today -- Sustainability Education: Connecting Art, Science, and Design -- we saw a short introductory film about the Reggio Emilia approach to teaching and learning.  Think about the film within the context of what we have been doing in this seminar and share your thoughts about this question:

What initial connections are you making between the way of learning at Reggio and the themes of this institute—sustainability, science, art, and design?





16 comments posted

"making of shoes" Susainable design

Submitted by Stephanie Raugust (not verified) on Sat, 2010-08-21 13:57.

Pardon me if this is not a place for u-tube but I feel like I needed to tell this story.

As life has it we need to consider our feet, well I bought a pair of shoes one late summer day a few years ago, on one of those side walk buy it at your own risk sales. However I have large feet and I never pass a shoe bargain if it is a size I might fit. Not to get to far from my true point I purchased the most comfortable shoes I have known for many decades or in my memory. As my age shows me, regardless of my wishes, my feet are important.

So I thought they must make others and as "Google" search showed me, this most comfortable shoe is from a shoe making company with Biomimicry of design at it's heart. Like the applications Tom Mckeag, so energetically spoke of this is one for a business. A shoe making company's Video that spoke so clearly of how this thinking will change our world!

I thought after I watched this, that I have been changed forever.
Thank you all!

Terra Planna Shoes

Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-27 09:54.

Thanks, Stephanie, for sending this our way...a very interesting story! I will keep my eyes out for these shoes.

What I saw in this film about

Submitted by kathy Solomon (not verified) on Wed, 2010-08-18 08:12.

What I saw in this film about the Reggio Emilia approach to education reinforced the importance of fostering creativity at the very beginning of children's school life. As the film pointed out, children need to work and their work and play are all intertwined and these activities set a foundation for their life-long learning. As a parent of montessori educated children and a (former) montessori art teacher, I have witnessed this important approach. Children are serious about their endeavors and with some guidance they more easily solve "problems" without a preconceived teacher's game plan. The long term projects allow children to develop patience and commitments to developing works over time. I think what we are trying to do as educators is to help children in all levels in their educational paths to tap into their creativity and work to develop problem solving skills across disciplines.

Yes, Kathy, it is so hard to

Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-20 11:31.

Yes, Kathy, it is so hard to let go of our preconceived plans! I hadn't really thought about it, but you are right. the Reggio teachers seem to really let go of "outcomes" except for encouraging kids to develop and articulate their thinking and creativity.


Submitted by Clarke Bugbee (not verified) on Wed, 2010-08-18 07:46.

The segment on Reggio was very interesting. The children and teachers seemed engaged and happy. This, of course, is the goal of teaching. One of the big obstacles is time.
If a project takes more than two to three weeks, many would say that is too long and to a certain extent I would agree. However,the projects that were being done seemed very engaging and multidisciplinary. I think it would be great to run a project that would last the entire year, or longer - and what a challenge that would be. I look forward to learning more about this approach.

what about older kids?

Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-20 11:27.

Yes, Clarke, and also, how can we keep that engagement alive as students---like yours--get older. It seems like we decide at some point that they don't need to creatively explore a topic, unless its in art class or something like that.

Reggio Emilia

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2010-08-18 06:58.

The short film about Reggio Emilia ( which I had not heard of) was remarkable in the energy, engagement and inner control that the children displayed. They were happy and so in tune with what ever they were involved in. Especially informative were their answers to this outside reporter about how each child could choose what they were going to do and of course not everyone was going to go to the paint table at the same time.

I was struck by the fluid movement they had and ease of talking about what they were doing ...they were not second guessing what htey were doing, they were just exploring without the tight parameters that are normally in a school indoor activity. How refreshing. Exhilarating.

The word that comes to mind is respect....the ability of the students at Reggio Emilia to explore and learn on their own is respected .. there is an air of child as master of their own creative urge, instead of the teacher as holder of all knowledge and let me show you how....what if I try this or that.... and there is no right or wrong answer... keep following what you feel would be next .. the self correction, the evidence collected and then self assessed ... the thinking and problem solving done by them.


Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-20 11:34.

You are so is respecting and valuing the way kids make sense out of their world. Unfortunately, that seems rare in today's classroom, not because teachers don't respect student thinking, but the institution is currently operating with the implicit assumption that anything worth thinking about must come from experts.

Reggio and Sustainability

Submitted by Lisa Kaplan (not verified) on Wed, 2010-08-18 00:34.

Lisa Kaplan

Reggio and Sustainability

In facilitating the activity of children's innate curiosity, and problem solving capacities as in the Reggio approach, we nurture children's innate brilliance.

By supporting this deep original intelligence we sustain these qualities within each child. As we document discoveries, explorations and creative constructions -- evidence of their processes; and as they work on long-term projects in groups and individually, they expand their sense of confidence, and the value of their own process/product time/energy as well as the value of being part of and contributing to community (the group, class or school)--a greater whole.

Such individuals will grow and mature to be our confident creative problems solvers, participating community and family members and compassionate sustainers, leaders and innovators.

Perhaps: Art and Design are problem solving through creating--keeping in mind form and function. Science is the study of Nature and natural phenomena keeping in mind function and form. Children who have been encouraged to view the world through such a lens are aware, attuned and practiced in perceiving, receiving, reviewing and recalibrating information and challenges into meaning while channeling intelligences and energies into the creative process of constructions and often profound solutions.

Beautifully stated! I like

Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-20 11:28.

Beautifully stated! I like your term, "deep original intelligence."

Reggio method

Submitted by Julie Lovie (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 23:14.

The film reminded me of my children's preschool class they had so many wonderful projects and it was a co-op where parents worked and it was wonderful. We all got to play together. I think we all need to stay in touch with our childhood side. Again we need to slow down and really play, create, and experience. I am very excited to learn more I want to encourage my own children who are all teens to try to create and experience more. We really just need to make it important. I am excited to learn more tomorrow. This whole experience has been totally amazing. What a great way to start the school year excited, inspired, and full of lots of new teaching ideas and resources. I enjoyed the bookstore today. Thanks Julie

You folks at Valley Oak just

Submitted by carolie on Fri, 2010-08-20 11:29.

You folks at Valley Oak just keep on learning and looking for ways to inspire your students. So glad we get to work with you throughtout the year!

Reggio and This Seminar

Submitted by Valerie Gutwirth (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 22:42.

For me, this seminar is continually pushing us to take the ideas behind Reggio upward and outward -- up from preschool, out from the very specific community in which they originated. I see three pillars that will support this work, all of which are both active and reflective. First is to go back to Reggio's antecedents -- the work of Frederich Froebel, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, and John Dewey, among others. How does the work of Reggio (and the work of people like Geoffrey Canada) add to and evolve the work of the first progressive educators? How can we combine the effects of the combined research and scholarship in K-12 settings? Second is to think about language and development: language develops from physical to visual to verbal to written. As they gain in the ability to abstract, we must help children retain their language skills in each sphere, as well as their ability to see, create, and work from the interconnectedness of the various forms of language. What frameworks can we create to support this? Third, we must acknowledge the wisdom of existing systems, even as we look at ways to adapt them to new realities. Connecting this to the idea of ecoliteracy, we must look at the culture part of "school culture" in its biological sense: what is growing and developing in this classroom/school/district/system? How does it work? Why is it this way? Reggio has created a way of directing the flow; what aspects of what they have done are workable in our specific systems? I think underneath all of this is the necessity of, in Donella Meadows' words, "dancing with systems," or in Gus Trowbridges words, "recovenanting" -- observing the evolution of our students/classrooms/schools/districts, listening and communicating to identify strengths and needs, and circling back to essential principles -- so many of which we are getting here this week.

Students need more time and interdiscplinary courses!

Submitted by katyyan (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 18:36.

The CNN report seemed to reinforce a lot of teachers have been telling me in the last two days--that in order to do some of these great, interdisciplinary units on art and science, they need to be able to dedicate more time to each unit, allow them to stretch for more than just a few days or even weeks. The One Square Block projects by River of Words is a great example of this--a unit that involves ecology, oral history, multimedia, that can be done over months, and extend beyond one grade level, so that each successive grade level is building on what they've learned and collected in the past. So the question seems to be: how do you mobilize support from your administration and parents?

Something else that Reggio makes me think about is the importance of art--and how art education (and the liberal arts in general ) is so devalued in our country, from K through college. This is something we haven't really touched on but which is a huge problem. Our society values math and science (majors) because they become engineers and doctors and inventors, which makes us a powerful country in the global economy. But we don't value the arts enough, and this is manifest in our lack of financial support for artists and art education. But as Reggio demonstrates, art in its various forms can teach kids to discover, to inquire, to grow.

In the short film we saw, I

Submitted by Whitney (not verified) on Tue, 2010-08-17 17:53.

In the short film we saw, I noticed many of the lessons were done outdoors, none seemed to have restraints, all seemed to be hands-on and rather messy. This type of learning is how children remember things, it's the kind of things I remember most as I look back onto my own education. If we allow the room for kids to explore and give them to tools to do so, they naturally will. The same ideals and theories can be applied to connecting art, science, and sustainability to the classroom. If methods are taught to the students and they are given the time to explore, they will because they are natural explorers.

I remember one incident last year with a particular kindergartner named Drew. We had just finished a unit on recycling and read a book on landfills. The kids seemed to be really interested in the idea of a landfill, particularly when we tied it in with Wall-e. So, one day we were all on the playground and I notice Drew and a few other kids picking up trash. The notion of them caring for and cleaning up their environment seemed lovely so I let them continue with out question. Shortly after, they excitedly ran up to me yelling, "Miss Whitney! Miss Whitney! Look at how much we collected!" I commended their efforts to help our earth and asked them to recycle and throw away accordingly. They looked at me in disgust. Drew's eyes fiercefully met mine. "If we throw these things away they'll go to a landfill!" I realized that I had reached them. The classroom extended to the playground which then extended to the earth. They made a good point so I allowed them to take the "trash" to the classroom and I told them we would discuss it later. I needed to kill time to think about what I might say to them. There was no way I could let the kids start collecting dirty napkins and juice boxes and bringing them into the classroom. We would have created our own classroom landfill! When we got back to the classroom that afternoon we simply had a discussion, which 5 year old are very capable of having. I explained that their efforts were endearing and quite important, but we needed to think on a broader scale. There are some things in the pile that Drew and her friends collected that we could recycle or reuse, but sadly, there were some things that simply would have to be thrown away. I explained that we had to throw away the plastic drink containers but what we could do in the future is to ask our parents to pack us a reusable juice/water container. We went on and talked about how even in the grocery store we should be aware of what we are buying so that we have less waste. The kids had never sat still for so long. They were so engaged.

And so, I expect that the Reggio approach will have many instances where the kids are trying out what they learn in the real world. Perhaps even creating their own curriculum and learning from where their interest lies, like Drew.

Thank you for your Drew Story

Submitted by Stephanie (not verified) on Fri, 2010-08-20 09:06.

Thank you for your Drew Story When we are lucky enough to have the Drew's of the world come to us, we will be better teachers for sure!
It seems setting up an environment for inquiry and allowing the natural amount of time for this process makes for a child "Smart by Nature".
Here is wishing that in the constraints of design we will meet our challenge.
Time is a definite challenge yet it will be our interpretation of how to implement this with in our structures until these obstacles are removed.

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