We recognize that going to the source may confirm our long held beliefs about the competencies of children, but we also know that going to the source could have very different consequences. We run the risk of colliding with ideas that may undermine our beliefs about the power of loose parts. We both recognize that our upcoming visit to Reggio has the potential to propel our thinking forward; or (gasp) debunk some of our current thinking and practice; or possibly both! The closer we get to Italy the more apprehensive we become about the whole thing. What if visiting Reggio upends what we currently believe about how we live and learn? What if it changes everything… or changes nothing. What if it launches the two of us onto divergent trajectories? And what if the rave reviews have set the bar so high, we come home disappointed? These are all very real possibilities, and we’re doing our best to embrace the uncertainty.
Since we value the documentation process, we feel compelled to mark our pre-Reggio thinking so we'll have a barometer for reflection upon our return.
What we think we know right now:
- We believe in the power of community-building. At first glance, it may seem as though we are an educational company focused entirely on loose parts. However, beneath the surface, building community is at the heart of everything we do. Community is woven into the texture of every popup, thinkshop, and exhibit we design, and every partnership and project we embrace. This affinity for community-building developed over time for us – through extensive research, trial & error, reflection, and intuition. Community-building is our compassionate response to the cultural, political, and emotional distress of the current education system. Years of interactions with children and adults, materials and spaces, have taught us that community-building supports the values of respect, trust and care – for ourselves, for each other, for materials, and the natural world.
- We have come to understand that nature informs human nature. The more time we spend in Forest School environments with children and educators, the deeper this idea permeates our thinking. So we look for ways to encourage people to learn in, from, and with nature.
- We believe there is inherent wisdom in materials and that loose parts can help us make meaning of our world, explore relationships, and express our theories more effectively. We've found that Loose Parts have the capacity to evoke memory and provoke critical and creative thinking.
- We are committed to the idea of sustainable thinking. As parents and educators, we're deeply concerned with the level of consumption in our world – especially in education. To that end, we challenge people to extend the life of materials by making intentional choices and keeping loose parts, well, loose!
- We are convinced that the power of giving can transform our relationships and communities. We are so passionate about this topic, we've created Give Junkie to help put materials into the hands of students and educators. By creating a closed loop where individuals and businesses donate materials, we can provide much needed resources for learning spaces and reduce the burden of waste in our communities.
So there you have it. Community-building, the wisdom of materials, sustainable thinking, human nature and the power of giving. That’s where we’re at right now. We’ve lived with these ideas for several years – tweaking our thinking slightly from time to time – but mostly being guided by this compass. Now we are curious to see if our visit to Reggio will lead us towards a major ‘course correction’ or carry us further down our current path. Either way, we sense that visiting Reggio will touch us on a philosophical, intellectual and emotional level. We hope you'll join us in our studio when we return – for a Reggio Reflection Knowledge Swap. There will be so much to process after going to the source and we'll want to share our insights and Reggio discoveries with you! ❤︎