The Hundred Languages of Children is a poem written by Loris Malaguzzi, a visionary and the father of the Reggio Emilia schools. He instituted an educational philosophy reverencing the potentiality of the child and their intuitive ways of expressing ideas. The poem conveys the ingenuity of these modes of expression and their absence in schools.
Children have deep reservoirs of imagination and remain open to the possibilities that a medium of expression might provide. They often begin with play or experiment with materials. When others join and provide feedback or clarify the intention of the work the children develop a deeper understanding of the materials. A compatibility between the children and the mode of expression develops. This compatibility extends both the children's understanding and their ability to express that understanding using these mode of expressions to promote thinking.
Sometimes words fail us when we collaborate. We talk and talk and yet our colleagues and friends remain confused or perhaps just not inspired. Collaboration at the light table or painting a mural can begin with play, generating comradery and then an exchange of ideas that is detailed and visual. The ideas are tangible and can be moved or added. This way of working can level the playing field allowing everyone to have a voice and a contribution.
Through observing the children we slowly acquire ways to scaffold children as they use the materials and resources. This year we are asking children to use pastels. The children have noticed that the light colors add depth to darker colors and that pastels resist a watercolor wash. The approaching holiday of Halloween inspired a plethora of work using black and orange paper.
We discussed the poem written by Malaguzzi at the start of our faculty conversation on Friday. Miles Curtis, one of our teachers, mentioned that the Hundred Languages poem reminded him of a poem crafted by Emily Dickinson. I went looking for the poem this morning. Such lovely images to leave you with.
I dwell in Possibility
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –