Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why do we represent?

A sketch of a brace providing support for a young tree 
Why do we emphasize the power of children representing an idea and then representing the idea again in a different symbolic language? 

The Hundred Languages of Children , the third edition, is our mentor text for the year. One of the chapters describes the history, ideas and philosophy of the program in Reggio Emila through an interview with its founder, Loris Malaguzzi. 

Malaguzzis's words are exacting and nuanced at the same time. When I read this text I often need to reread the same sentence several times to understand the words and and their application within the context of the classroom.

"The use of graphic expression comes from the need to bring clarity. There is also the fact that the children intuitively become aware about what this new code can produce from now on. 

As they go from one symbolic language to another the children find that each transformation generates some thing new. This complicates the situation and advance them. 

As they construct their ideas they also construct the plurality of codes. Therefore when they draw they are not only making a graphic intervention they are selecting ideas and getting rid of excessive superfluous or misleading ones."

When I read these words I think of Lucy Calkins and the writing process. It seems as if the children are editing and revising ideas as they change from one symbolic language to another.

A representation of a brace for the tree.

Have you ever tried to share an idea with a colleague using words and then grabbed a pen to sketch? As our world is changed by the innovations of technology,  our culture relies on and is influenced by images and graphic expression each day. 

Malguazzi's prophetic words: 

Because we are speaking of schools, we are referring to the ways in which symbols are used by children to acquire culture, grow and communicate. I do not want to limit the domain of symbolic language only to reading, writing and numbers. Symbols are used as well by musicians, storytellers and others.

Three dimensional recyclable representation

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