My other brother, Chuan, or Dr Alex, as his patients know him, is truly excited about the Reggio Emilia approach. I haven’t been to Reggio Emilia in Italy but I am deeply privileged to be walking and be deeply guided in the education journey by Vashima Goyal, the founder and pedagogist of Child at St 11. I learnt in one of such amazing seminars at St11 when Dr Ellen Hull was visiting from Boulder Journey School in Colorado US, that the Reggio approach can only be practised in Reggio Emilia. We can be inspired by Reggio but we can’t be Reggio. We have to come into our own. The deep fundamentals of the Reggio approach is of philosophy – belief and conviction – in the following:
1) Children’s rights
“Child at Street 11 strongly believes that children have rights to sound education, good health and protection against violence and abuse.” – Child at St11
2) Culture – specifically one of collaboration of unique cultures i.e. being in community
“Children and adults interact in relationships formed and maintained within the school. We think that the system of relationships is critical because it provides the basis for the development of a culture in the school that reflects the unique cultures of the individuals within the school.” – Boulder Journey School
The art, the investigations, though extremely appealing to our intellect, is secondary.
DanaKae Bonahoom, Keith’s developmental interventionist, who was mentored by Dr Stanley Greenspan, during a seminar at St11, crystallises it even clearer, “Children have a right to be loved.” Sometime at the end of June 2012, it clicked for me that Stanley Greenspan’s 2nd emotional development milestone is about AFFECTION. I was notionally nodding at “Intimacy/Interest in the World” but I wasn’t really practising from this deep oasis during all the moments with my children, husband and loved ones. When in engagement, especially when I feel like I ought to be the educator or the therapist, I am braining my play, instead of playing with affection, as DanaKae would say, “from the heartspace”.
There is always a gap, one feels distanced, academic, when one brains an engagement and erroneously calls it floortime or a relationship. Affection is when I am horseplaying, kicking a football, making wanton, splashing water with my children – when things drop on the floor, they drop, when the ball crashes on the vase, we give a good giggle. Affection means you love whatever the other person is doing very simply because it’s the other person. The very thought, the very presence of the other person makes you completely aglow, completely complete.