SchoolArts Magazine

February 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Another responsibility of the atelierista is to document the learning process. In the Reggio schools, documen- tation is the main form of assessment. Photographs are taken throughout the day as students explore at vari- ous learning stations. These documents demonstrate what children did during the day and reveal their progression throughout the year. The pho- tos are also shown to the chil- dren so they can revisit what they have accomplished. An advantage to documenting the process is that it puts empha- sis on the artistic process and not just the end product. Attention to Detail Students are taught to take their time and observe the details of everyday objects. On the day I visited one of these schools, on one table a head of lettuce lay, cut in half. Students (ages three to four) were brought to this table to observe and study the lettuce, then given paper, a brush, and fifteen shades of green paint. What I antici- pated would take five minutes for children this age took them twenty minutes. Students conversed about what they saw and even shared tech- niques with one another. The art and design of Reggio Emilia schools are unique. However, the most noteworthy quality of this method is the power it gives children to learn through the exploration of their world through art. Tracey Hunter-Doniger teaches at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. hunterdonigertl@ cofc.edu W E B L I N K www.reggiokids.com/the_reggio_ approach.html P O I N T O F V I E W Free to Pla , Free to Discover S ince World War II, the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy, has employed Loris Malaguzzi's Hundred Languages of Chil- dren, which focuses on the use of symbolic languages through art to represent children's thinking pro- cesses. This curriculum, which is practiced around the globe, encourages chil- dren to explore their world and express their findings through art and discovery. I recently visited Italy to research this method of early childhood education and discovered that there is a foundational presence of art and design throughout the approach. The Design of the Facilities At the school in Italy, every room is equipped with an ate- lier, or mini artroom, because art is the central focus in every stage of development. Besides basic art supplies, the classrooms contain mostly recycled and natural elements. Very few sup- plies are store-bought, but one essen- tial item is a light table for children to investigate light and shadow. The pedagogical design of the Reg- gio approach is for children to imag- ine the possibilities of their world and learn through their experiences. Nature is their playground for adven - ture and imaginative play. The Pedagogista and Atelierista The pedagogista, or teacher, maintains curriculum planning and how the school is directed. He or she designs the schedule for the day, leaving time for exploration. For example, first thing in the morning, all age levels gather in the piazza (public square). There, they sing songs and discuss what will happen throughout the day. When children express different inter - ests, those interests are nurtured and curriculum planning is changed. The pedagogista also works closely with the art teacher, or atelierista, concentrating on student curiosities and interests. The atelierista is the central leader of the school, curricu - lum, and students' daily routine. The arts are incorporated in curriculum planning, daily pedagogy, and project- based assessment. One atelierista explained to me, "Art is fundamental in our school . . . Students at this age use art to make sense of their world." Tracey Hunter-Doniger Children are encouraged to explore their world and express their findings through art and discover . 8 FEBRUARY 2016 SchoolArts

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