By Bobbie Luterman, Melissa Lebowitz & Brenda Schuman
Beth Tfiloh Preschool
Remember our last blog when we described the unbelievable community project called the “Theatre Curtain”? Well, it gets better!
We mentioned the theatre curtain because it was a perfect example of the value that the city places on their children within the community. Asking the children to be the creators of the very curtain that would hang in their beautiful theatre was a big honor and a statement about what they believed about the abilities of their children, they are truly considered citizens of this community.
So.. over the last couple of days we made many new connections that have deepened this experience even further. We realized that the values that we hold as Jewish people are synonymous with the values that the Reggio community and their educators hold for their children. The connections are astounding.
As Jews we believe that children were created in the image of G-d or Betzelem Elokim. Children should be respected for who they are now rather than treated as someone who needs to grow into a person. They have everything they need from the moment they are conceived and we should help them figure out who they already are rather than try to shape them into who we think they should be.
Well… as we were sitting and listening we heard the same message from the people of Reggio Emilia.
Loris Malaguzzi, the visionary behind this approach once said…. This is a value based approach…. he said that the image of a child is a solid one from the beginning and that all children are intelligent and that every child at all times is competent.
The Reggio approach also involves constant study, commentary, interpretation, and reflection for the sake of children and their work- sounds familiar huh?? That just screamed out Judiasm. All three of us were so moved by these connections and so were the 70ish members of our study group. In fact, we all cheered as these comparisons were made by fellow group members. The last huge connection that we made today was also important. The Reggio approach is based on the respect and value that we place on our environment.
The Reggio community expresses this through their in-depth studies of nature with children. They closely study the details of natural materials and phenomena like water, light, weather and seasonal color changes. They also use almost entirely recycled materials for art and for play. They focus very intently on the importance of the world. This is such a strong connection to our own concept of Tikkun Olam.
The amazing thing is that we could go all night on this topic!! Anyway, we know this is deep, but it doesn’t even scrape the surface compared to what we have experienced this week. We laugh when we think of the times that we have called this approach a curriculum. That word DOES not even come close! This is a way of life, actually- it’s OUR way of life and it’s exactly what our children deserve.
Anyway, we really need to go to bed-our brains need a break!!!
Ciao for Now! Shalom!
Brenda, Bobbie and Melissa