Taking the PYP Forward - The pre-primary schools of Reggio Emilia

At some point in my life and career as an educator, I must work in a pre-primary environment.  Around the world the majority of places that call them themselves Reggio inspired are mainly for very young learners.  I see no reason why the same practices and ideas cannot be applied to an upper elementary classroom as well.  This is the first chapter in the book where I felt that this was really pushing education forward.  There have been great ideas in the previous chapters, but for the most part, they are adaptations on the system that is already in place.  Reggio on the other hand, is truly forward thinking.  It brings so many questions forward, and paints a picture of schools that are so radically different from what is considered mainstream education.

Mirrors iPhones kids
Playing with Mirrors and Light
Pedagogical Coordinator (pedagogista) (pg 125)

Naturally, I compare this role with the PYP coordinator.  Though it is so much different.  In a sense, the PYPC is in charge of curriculum and the units of study.  Yes, very good PYPC are also great at introducing the pedagogy and making sure the classrooms are dynamic sources of learning.  Yet, they also have the responsible of making sure the official documents of the school policy are being covered. Imagine if they were free from that burden, and they could focus solely on pedagogy and practice...

children will gravitate toward that which challenges them and is worth knowing (pg 125)

Reggio inspired classrooms have so much trust in the children, and believe so strongly in their abilities. That trust is something that heavily mandated curriculums and test driven environments can never accomplish.  There is too much to cover, so you have to learn what I tell you to learn.  Imagine if we let kids study what they wanted to.  I am not taking about a three day independent investigation scheduled for week 4 or the UOI, or as a step in an inquiry model.  I am taking about always.  For the entirety of their elementary education, from PreK to Grade 5 (or later).  What if they were free to do whatever they wanted to do?  That is a great deal of trust.  Take a look at the Sudbury Schools to see this in action.

Each classroom has two teachers (pg 127)

This is impossible in my current school since our numbers are small and we don't have multiple classes at each level, but what if the teachers of a particular grade level rotated among all the classes?  Or even the students?  Why do three classrooms of grade 5 students have to stay in the same group, with the same teacher?  Why not let it be more fluid?  This would allow the kids to work with a much broader range of learning styles and personality types, and it would force the teachers to collaborate, not just with each other, but with the kids as well.  Or is this just too chaotic?  I would love to try this someday.

Emergent Curriculum (pg 130)

This is the key to Reggio.  There is no set curriculum.  No outcomes.  No standards and benchmarks.  Just inquiry unleashed.  It is focused on the individual child, and the group of learners how they are understanding and thinking about the world around them.  This is what I dream about.  Teacher Tom writes about how his emergent curriculum works at his pre-school (one of the best blogs on education, a must read, even if you don't teach young children).  I think this is entirely possible to do with a group of grade 5 students.  But, it requires a lot of trust, and in our world that is hard to come by.  We would have to trust the teachers to be fully engaged, and we would have to trust the students to be curious and dedicated to personal growth.  It would change the fundamental purpose of schooling, and it would change the way schools are viewed.  It would be revolutionary.

I am willing to give it a try.  You never know until you try.


  1. Good post An interesting discussion is worth a comment as in this age group children learn quickly and as they grow older they start exploring.
    Top Preschool education,
    Pri Primary Education


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