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Loris Malaguzzi

(1920—1994)


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(1920–94)

An Italian educator whose work is closely associated with the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. As a middle school teacher in the Reggio Emilia district of Italy in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, Malaguzzi was instrumental in founding an approach to young children's education which is based on mutual respect and reciprocity between teacher and child, and the philosophy that teaching and learning embodies a relationship of equality and democracy, rather than a power relationship in which the teacher dominates.

Born in Correggio in the province of Reggio Emilia, Malaguzzi was educated at the University of Urbino, where he gained a degree in pedagogy, and at the National Research Centre in Rome, where he was awarded a degree in psychology. Following the Allied liberation of Italy from fascist rule, in 1946 he became involved in the setting up of pre‐schools organized and run by parents in Reggio Emilia, and in 1950 he established the Municipal Psycho–Pedagogical Centre in which he practised as a psychologist until the 1970s. In 1980, working as a consultant for the Italian Ministry of Education, he founded the Gruppo Nazionale Nidi‐Infanzia (National Early Years Centre) in Reggio Emilia to promote child‐centred education, and went on to travel Europe and the United States promoting his approach to early years education. His travelling exhibition The Hundred Languages of Children (originally entitled If the Eye Jumps Over the Wall) was instrumental in bringing his educational philosophy to a wider audience of teachers and parents worldwide. Opening with the words ‘Il bambino e fatto di cento’ (literally, ‘The child is made of a hundred’), Malaguzzi's manifesto goes on to say:‘The child has a hundred languages (and then a hundred hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety‐nine. The school and the culture separate the head from the body. They tell the child to think without their hands, to do and make without their head, to listen and not to speak, to understand without joy, to feel love and awe only at Easter and Christmas. They tell the child to discover the world that is already there.’This extract encapsulates several key points of Malaguzzi's beliefs about the education of young children: that children and their viewpoint are to be taken seriously; that education should not be defined in terms of what the state or the teacher decides should be taught; that it should not be subjected to categorization in the form of curriculum subjects; but that it should arise from a response to the child's creativity and search for meaning. Indeed, asked whether he advocated curriculum planning, Malaguzzi is said to have responded that in his view this, like lesson planning, would simply lead to ‘teaching without learning’ and to the humiliation of the child. His ideas on education drew upon, and were influenced by, the work of an eclectic range of philosophers, educationalists, artists, and psychologists, who included key educational thinkers such as Bruner, Dewey, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky.

‘The child has a hundred languages (and then a hundred hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety‐nine. The school and the culture separate the head from the body. They tell the child to think without their hands, to do and make without their head, to listen and not to speak, to understand without joy, to feel love and awe only at Easter and Christmas. They tell the child to discover the world that is already there.’

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Subjects: Education.


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