By Raquel Mustillo
RENDELSHAM educator Sally Gower has been selected as one of just six scholarship recipients across Australia to participate in a professional learning program in Melbourne.
Ms Gower will travel to Victoria to participate in the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange’s Context for Coherent Pedagogy to strengthen her knowledge of the educational project of Reggio Emilia in an Australian context.
The five-day program has been developed for experienced educators, teachers and leaders who have been working with the principles of the Italian-based philosophy and aims to deepen their understanding through ongoing participation.
The Reggio Emilia approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education which supports a student-centred and self-guided curriculum allowing children to express themselves in different ways as they develop their personality.
“The educators in Reggio Emilia in Italy are very good at putting provocations out to provoke the thinking which is very intentional and very much led by the child,” Ms Gower said.
“This project will be very interesting because in Australia we are very much guided by the Australian curriculum so this will be interesting to see how we use the principles of Reggio within the Australian curriculum.
“In the early years, we use the early years learning framework so this program will look at how does that inspire you to change your thinking within the Australian environment.”
Under the approach, children are viewed as capable and valuable members of the community and are encouraged to explore, question and interpret the world during the first five years of life.
Rather than simply instructing children, the teacher is viewed as collaborating with students, planning activities based on each child’s interest rather than assigning an activity and observing.
“A lot of people look at children and think their cup is half full and we as teachers need to fill that cup,” Ms Gower said.
“But children already come with a full cup, they are already full of knowledge, wonder and curiosity and we need to think how do we as educators develop that natural curiosity of thought and allow them to have a voice and learn from that.
“The program will be an opportunity for me to work with like-minded educators and to be challenged, which I think is important because I feel as if I have so much to learn from the principles and other participants.”
Ms Gower will travel to Melbourne in March and May for the face-to-face component of the program and will undertake a one day online course including context, interconnected principles and ethics, rights and principles.