With not a hint of knowledge about the Reggio Emilia philosophy, I began my journey at Richland Academy on September 13th as the newest member of this welcoming community. From the moment I set off, I instantaneously entered a world of discovery, reflection and amazement: Children communicating with or without words, teachers supporting critical and creative thinking, parents partaking in classroom activities, and signs of nature both inside and outside the classrooms. As the days go by, I am astounded at how congruent the philosophy embraced by the school is to the Chinese Proverb displayed in each classroom: ‘Tell me, and I may forget. Show me, and I might remember. Involve me, and I will understand.’
Along the hallways are banners displaying the ‘Fundamentals of the Reggio Inspired Philosophy’, the ‘Power of Documentation’ and the ‘Hundred Languages of Children’. Daily documentation appears on blank backdrops outside each classroom alongside various achievement awards and collaborative artwork. The idea of documentation is fascinating to me. How incredible is it for a parent to be able to see their child’s thought processes documented right before them? Thinking back to my school years, I am in awe at how much the education system has changed since I began pre-school in 1986- with some schools, like Richland, continuing to evolve and some, unfortunately, lingering in teachings of the past. The Reggio philosophy has made way for schools filled with questions instead of answers and learning instead of teaching; schools where children are asked what they think and where teachers’ roles have advanced to that of researchers and co-learners. It is clear that Richland students will benefit from acquiring universal skills that will prepare them for future learning and growth in a technologically-enriched and globalized world.
I feel fortunate to be part of such a remarkable place where I am able to observe such extraordinary things each day; witnessing the ideas of children from Prekindergarten to Grade 6 being brought to life before my eyes. Richland is unlike any other school I have ever been to or even heard about. It is a homey environment where small class sizes are filled with ever-expanding minds; where emotional intelligence is just as important as intellectual intelligence; where children are valued and are constantly involved in thought-provoking and character-enriching activities as they are guided to spend more time inquiring, exploring, experimenting and discovering. Every moment is an opportunity for both students and Faculty to learn about collaboration, self-regulation, responsibility and respect. Just weeks ago, the concept of children ‘learning by doing’ was completely alien to me. Now I see more and more each day why the Reggio-inspired approach to inquiry learning is the most constructive philosophy to inspire lifelong learners. It is evident that this will continue to open doors of endless possibilities for children. And the more we learn, the more we evolve. The choice is yours: either join us on our journey of discovery or get left behind…
Prepared by: Melissa M. Mirabelli, Marketing & Events Coordinator