Stefania Giamminuti spent six months researching in the municipal infant–toddler centres and schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. Her unique experiences are vividly recounted in this rich book, with its seductive images and lyrical storytelling drawing the reader into daily events in these world-renowned places for young children. The voices and contexts of children, teachers, atelieriste, pedagogiste, and families in Reggio Emilia come alive in this important and impressive book — an invitation to encounter the beauty and complexity of this exceptional social and cultural project of early education. Stefania proposes a new key for interpreting the educational project of Reggio Emilia in international contexts by exploring the ‘local values’ that emerged through her observation of life in Nido Arcobaleno and Scuola Pablo Neruda and relating these to ‘connective values’ to inform the philosophy, policy and practice of early childhood education and care internationally. Stefania engages with the construct of ‘quality’ in early childhood education and care, proposing new approaches to theorising quality as a metaphor and complex cultural and value-laden construct.
This is a book about the philosophical basis of a mode of early, preschool education. But that philosophical basis is not only set forth abstractly but explicated concretely by well observed examples of the daily life of those preschools. I happen to be a cittadino honorario of Reggio Emilia. And I confess that I am further honoured by the appearance of Ms Giamminuti’s book. For it brings that city and its pedagogical efforts into a universal context that honors us all.
[from the Foreword] Jerome Bruner, University Professor, New York University, NYC (USA).
As I read this book, the story emerged of a special educational project, seen and narrated through the eyes of a researcher who has positioned herself as a listener and observer of daily events in the municipal infant–toddler centres and ‘schools of childhood’ of Reggio Emilia. Stefania has narrated the possible which the Reggio Emilia experience attempts to bear witness to — education as a primary and inalienable right of all children throughout the world.
[from the Epilogue] Claudia Giudici, President, Preschools and Infant—toddler Centres — Istituzione of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia.
Your book stands out in that it gives a genuine feeling for the schools and the community while also speaking to the already published literature.
Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education (USA).
I think the book will have an international appeal, well beyond Australia […] an important and impressive publication […] it is an assured debut.
Peter Moss, Emeritus Professor, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London (UK).
If you know and love Italy and the gifts from Reggio Emilia, this feels like coming home. If you have not yet met this place, this beautifully illustrated book is an introduction bathed in light and colour.
Alma Fleet, Associate Professor, Macquarie University Institute of Early Childhood, Sydney (Australia).
Foreword by Jerome Bruner
Preface — Ripples in a World of The Possible
Pieces of My World
Chapter 1 Invitation to Reggio Emilia
The Things We Liked the Most
Entering Arcobaleno and Neruda
Nido Arcobaleno: a transparent space
Scuola Pablo Neruda: negotiating the boundaries
Chapter 2 Leaning on Knowledge
Introduction Reggio Emilia: An Educational Project
Early Education in Italy: Contexts of Hope
Reggio Emilia: A Cultural Project
The image of the child
The theory of ‘The Hundred Languages’
Pedagogy of relationships and listening
Reggio Emilia Today
The O-6 Project: Nido Arcobaleno and Scuola Pablo Neruda
The 0-6 educational project
Scuola Pablo Neruda
Places for children: what do we call them?
A School that Speaks: Pedagogical documentation
Quality as meaning making
Community of Learners
Chapter 3 Entering Reggio Emilia
Understanding their understanding
The semiotics of entering
Arcobaleno: Interpreting entering
Scuola Pablo Neruda: Interpreting transparency
The interdependent values
Chapter 4 The Value of Rich Normality: The Extraordinary in the Ordinary
Expressing rich normality: Daily life in the Grandi classroom
Interpreting rich normality: Glance as a prerequisite to meaningful documentation
Inviting others to share a rich normality lens
The history of rich normality
Rich normality as a special right
Chapter 5 The Value of Narrative
The Last Paratrooper to Land: the right to learn in a community
Stories, drawings, and signs: Narrative in a panel
The Ghost-Horse: intimate connections
Chapter 6 The Value of Memory
Memory as transformation
Memory as a place for finding yourself
Memory as the social construction of knowledge
The daily journal as individual and shared memory
Chapter 7 The Value of Locality
The value of time: A brief sketch of a day
The value of time in the words of the protagonists
A collective sense of locality: School as a place that belongs to children
Chapter 8 The Value of Identity–Relationship
Hunting for words
Building belonging: The daily journal in the infant–toddler centre
Co-responsibility: ‘Quiet, quiet’, Matteo says
Chapter 9 The Value of Transparency–Democracy
To stop for a moment
From far away and from close up
Creating a democratic forum: ‘What do we have it for if we don’t do anything with it’
Chapter 10 The Value of Language
Every possible use of words
The hurdles of interpretation
The bilingual conundrum
Effective dialogue in the present and the future
The soul that’s inside somebody else
‘You are speaking his language’: Special rights in relationships
Chapter 11 The Value of Beauty–Aesthetics
Spaces speak of beauty
Beauty as a promise of happiness
Concluding thoughts: Documentation as an act of empathy
Final words from Reggio Emilia: The stories I was moved to tell
Chapter 12 Theoretical Propositions: ‘The Boundary is a Smoke’
Introduction: What are connective values?
Chapter 13 Metaphors for Quality
Searching for a metaphor
Towards a new culture of quality
Conclusion: The right to hope
Epilogue by Claudia Giudici