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April 12, 2002

"Keep the inner fires burning; it will be such happiness for me to feel their genial warmth when we next meet." —George Santayana


Loris Malaguzzi, the late philosopher of the Reggio Emilia approach to educating children, offered this position on the rights of parents in a Reggio environment:

"It is the right of parents to participate actively, and with voluntary adherence to the basic principles, in the growth, care, and development of their children who are entrusted to the public institution.

"This means no delegating and no alienation. Instead, it confirms the importance of the presence and the role of parents, who have always been highly valued in our institutional tradition.

"First, we have the school, which makes strong and concerted efforts to involve the parents, in the awareness of how much can be gained from close collaboration with the families for the greater security and well-being of the children. Parent participation enables a communication network that leads to fuller and more reciprocal knowledge as well as to a more effective shared search for the best educational methods, content and values.

"Then we have the parents who are mainly young, of different trades and professions, different backgrounds and experiences, and often of different ethnic origins. But all these parents have to struggle against the lack of available time, the cost of living, the difficulty of their responsibilities as parents, and the desire to identify, discuss and reflect on their problems, especially those concerning the growth and education of their children. When school and parents are able to converge toward a cooperative experience, an interactive experience that is the rational and advantageous choice of everyone concerned (we all are pursuing more meaningful experiences), then it is easy to see how hostile and mistaken is the pedagogy of self-sufficiency and prescription, and how friendly and fertile is the strategy of participation and shared research. Participation and research are, in fact, two terms that summarize much of the overall conception of our educational theory. These two terms might also be seen as the best prerequisites for initiating and maintaining cooperative understanding between parents and teachers, with all the value that is added to the educational prospects of the children."

The above quotation came from The Hundred Languages of Children: Narrative of the Possible published in 1996 by the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, Italy. This book, and other books of Reggio Children, are available for purchase at www.ChildCareExchange.com


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