I’m here at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference in Washington, DC, where early childhood educators, administrators, students, researchers and teacher educators come together to explore the latest research and learn from one another.
I’m here to present as members of two panels, on Spirituality and Teacher’s Dispositions, and on Spirituality and Literacy. But of course I’m also here to learn, and what an opportunity!
Prior to the conference, many Washington schools inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy opened their doors for tours and dialogue. At the first two schools I visited, both Amelia Gambetti and Lella Gandini from Reggio Children presented stories and findings of their own work with children. During one of these visits, Lella shared a story of three young Italian children tackling a project of drawing children playing ring-around-the-rosies. Lella shared some of the children’s thinking as they attempted to depict the scene for themselves: First the children drew lines of children. Then one child suggested that backs and fronts should appear. Another child suggested drawing profiles.
Then Lella invited us to give the drawing a try. For me, this was a lesson in humility, awe in children’s competencies, and a reminder of how deep and full of knowledge and wonder a simple activity can become. I recommend you give it a try and draw a circle of children. You will quickly see what I am talking about.
Both Reggio environments I visited were full of nature, beautiful stuff, documentation, and reflections of a community of children, parents, and educators. As I listened to Lella and Amelia speak, I couldn’t help but think how much their language parallels the findings of my study of spiritual development. When the conference is over, I promise to return to these thoughts and reflect some more.