Introduction to the Educational Project of Reggio-Emilia
The Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy, recognized internationally as the finest in the world, represent an evolving educational project founded by parents at the end of World War II. Their experience of fascism had “taught parents…that in building a new society it was imperative to safeguard, communicate, … and maintain a vision of children who can think and act for themselves.” (Dahlberg, 1995) At the outset, the drive for nursery schools was a passionate, shared hope for a different future.
Under the leadership of the visionary educator, Loris Malaguzzi, this system of schools became sponsored by the municipality in 1963. It is predicated on an image of all children as strong, curious, full of potential, and desiring of relationships. Alongside this “strong child” developed a community, an organization of schools, and collaboration among citizens, parents, and teachers as an expression of civic responsibility.
These Municipal Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy exist only in Reggio Emilia. However, the influence of their educational philosophy and civic practice can be felt around the world as educators from more than 90 countries have learned from and adapted their ideas. As a result, the work of the municipal schools of Reggio Emilia represents an extraordinary invitation for international exchange. This unfolding public educational project raises the possibility that homes, childcare centers, schools, and community spaces can be understood as sites to nurture democratic dispositions: openness to different perspectives, deep and curious listening, fluency in many different modes of expression, and critical thinking.
We each have our unique culture, traditions, context and history. All that we learn from the Italians inspires our work but we cannot replicate it, nor should we attempt to. Instead, Reggio-inspired educators in Minnesota endeavor to interpret the work of these Italian educators and apply it in our own contexts: in our specific cities and towns, with our own traditions, in our own schools, child care centers and other places where we work with children and families.
We share a commitment to basic principles and values with the educators of Reggio Emilia.