Pedagogical environment and its traditions in most schools today are very static; children receive a ready set of knowledge and can rarely explore the world or express their thoughts and needs, because the system is not oriented towards listening to the child. As a result of such learning, children lose their creative abilities and curiosity, and are bound by the school program. Thus, one of actual problems of pedagogics is to encourage listening to children and to develop sense of wonder (Valentine, 1999) in teachers and learners.
In Italian town called Reggio Emilia Loris Malaguzzi introduced a revolutionary preschool learning system, where the approach is quite different. The system uses a “progettazione” approach, and is based on socio-constructivist premises that people learn through making connections, between other people, experience, concepts and things. While in traditional schools mostly verbal, analytical and writing skills are encouraged, in Reggio Emilia preschools “children are also encouraged to participate in a variety of expressive activities such as sculpture, dramatic play, shadow play, puppetry, painting, dancing, music, ceramics, construction and writing” (Valentine, 1999). Children are listened to in multiple ways, and this gives far more space for development. It is not surprising that children in these environments are able to perform more complex tasks and show higher intelligence compared to traditional environments. Hence, developing multiple ways of listening to children is highly important, and this approach is worth integration everywhere.
The other side of the problem is documentation: such creative approach needs documentation: audio, graphical and video representation of the child’s activities (Suarez & Daniels, 2009). The key lies in the teacher’s approach: teachers in Reggio Emilia preschools have to develop and wonder together with children, and their task is to better understand the process of learning through deep consideration of the kids’ activities. In current schools and preschools teachers rarely have enough time to consider the progress of every kid using the variety of languages: verbal, movements, gestures, art etc. In contrast, in Reggio Emilia preschools “continuing professional development is not about developing teachers’ understanding of how to teach but about developing their understanding of how children learn” (Valentine, 1999).
To make a conclusion, for deep understanding of the child and true listening to him, it is necessary to let the child to develop and create in many ways, using the “hundred languages” hidden in every kid. From teacher’s side, the relations of warmth and love should exist, for this listening to be effective, and multiple means of documentation have to be used to track the child’s learning progress and to set new learning goals.
Suarez, S.C. & Daniels, K.J. (2009). Listening for Competence Through Documentation: Assessing Children With Language Delays Using Digital Video. Remedial and Special Education, 30 (3), 177-190.
Valentine, Marianne. (1999). The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Years Education. Learning and Teaching Scotland.