Education is a right of the child and a responsibility of the community/society. Such a simple statement with profound implications echoed all along my stay in Reggio Emilia. If you consider education as means of fulfilling some needs, that implies that there is a lack of something that education will make complete. But if you consider it as a right, then you see its full potential and strength.
Education is a social activity and schools are public spaces which have nothing to do with ease of physical access to public at large but with social visibility and transparency. Children come from “society” into the school and after school go back into “society”. The schools needs to be a bridge, and not a disconnect between the two “societies” so as to facilitate the process of learning and self-actualisation. Jerome Bruner (Noted Educational Psychologist and author of “The Process of Education”; “Towards a Theory of Instruction” & “The Culture of Education”) put it well when he said, “…..knowing where you are, where you find yourself, helps you to develop your sense of personal identity, your uniqueness, as well as your place in the world.” Schools well rooted in their societal ground, can develop strong learning for all protagonists in the school – children, parents and teachers.
A school is a place of dialogue, a dialogue between children and adults, a dialogue among adults, a dialogue between diversity, a dialogue between verbal and visual, a dialogue between the society and school. Yet so easily is it reduced to a monologue…..from the adults, from the education boards.
Children make learning a social activity, communication and collaboration comes naturally to them. In words of Carla Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children, “Childhood is an interpretation, a cultural construction”. So why is there very little dialogue between the school and the society? Why does society treat the school as a service provider rather than an extension of the society itself? And why does schools curriculum fail to reflect its social/cultural ethos?