My encounter with the Reggio Emilia Experience goes back to the year 2000 when I had the opportunity to join a study tour to visit and to learn about the city-run early childhood program for young learners aged from 6 months to 6 years in Reggio Emilia.
I joined the intensive week-long study tour with the Australian delegation of educators, not knowing what was awaiting for me. A sense of uncertainty in not knowing, is not necessarily a bad thing, as one can enter the space of learning without any preempted judgment or expectation, as if a child looks at life with fresh burgeoning eyes.
This way of entry into encountering and interpreting the Reggio Emilia Experience and of any learning experience, is one which I still hold on to, as my learning and understanding of the Reggio philosophy and of life-long learning continue to evolve. This, of course, does not mean to be ignorant or naive of the happenings around us, but rather to rigorously listen with both an open heart and mind, to question the ‘self’ within. This element of listening is defined as The Pedagogy of Listening as one of the principles of the Reggio Emilia Experience.
I continue to question: What does it mean to listen? What are we listening to? How do we listen?
Having been in the classroom for many years, I realize that there are many professional instruments to help gauge the weight and the value of our professional identity and work as educators. These are very important structures the profession necessitates. Through my ways and experiences of interpreting the Reggio philosophy, I have come to realize more deeply and to believe that listening to children’s voices are as important, or, perhaps, the most crucial tools to see where we are as educators in direct relationship to the children through our modes of teaching and learning.
How do we listen to our adult voices in conversation with the children to further understand the ways in which we construct meaning and theories together? Are we sensitive to listen to the silent exchanges that perhaps, carry deeper and more impacting meanings on many levels of our interactions across many spaces we build together with the children? What does it mean to listen to silence? Such questions on listening can also be transposed in our interactions with adults as much as with children.
How might the Pedagogy of Listening enhance Leadership in any field? How can people co-exist in an environment based upon listening?
Through the scholarly study of the thoughts, actions and interactions of young learners as vantage points, and receiving inspiration from children, my life-long learning continues as I constantly reflect on the ever recyclable human resources of listening, curiosity and imagination within both children and adults.