Thursday, March 11, 2010

100 Languages

I've been a naughty blogger these past couple of days. I have been doing a bit of reflection and introspection after spending three days at the Educating the Creative Mind conference at Kean University and have neglected to write about it, or anything else for that matter. This is largely because there was so much to see and do and learn that I feel like it is going to take me months to absorb it all as I continue to go through it all in my mind and weave it into the things I see and read.

There were so many interesting, creative and wonderful people and ideas at the conference that I don't know how to begin to share it with you. From the researcher who has given children the task of creating a musical composition based on their favorite color, to the math teacher who uses music, sound and movement to connect with his students, to the demonstrations of working with children using visual arts and movement, to (of course!) Dr. Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences and the way his ideas are being used to construct progressive was the best three days I've spent in quite awhile. I wish I had taken some pictures to show, but I was so busy taking notes that I forgot to take out my camera, even once! Very unlike me.

There were a number of presentations on the Reggio Emilia philosophy, and I attended most (if not all) of them. I continue to be very impressed and moved by this way of being with children - as one of the presenters said, Reggio is not a technique but a way of life. I think that is how it differs from many other educational philosophies. There is no way to train people to do it right, because it requires a great deal of introspection from the teacher and a great deal of trust and communication (even affection) between teacher and student. A different "curriculum" emerges in each setting and classroom that is born out of the relationship between the two and influenced by the larger community.

Much of what this conference was about was ways of bringing different tools, or "languages" to use the Reggio terminology, to the classroom. So I started to think about the idea of The Hundred Languages of Children - in other words, the different ways that children can communicate and express themselves. I realize it's a metaphor, but I wondered, how many could I actually name?
  • verbal expression
  • movement
  • dance
  • instrumental music
  • song
  • facial expressions
  • watercolor
  • acrylic paint
  • tempera paint
  • crayon
  • pencil
  • felt-tipped marker
  • charcoal
  • pastels
  • paper
  • found objects
  • light
  • sound
  • collage
  • photography
  • clay
  • woodworking
  • sculpture
  • beading
  • needlework
  • fiber
  • water play
  • sand play
  • imaginary play
  • role play
  • storytelling
  • touch
  • smell
  • taste
  • cooking
  • natural objects
  • reading

So how many is that? Less than forty? I realize that, as a novice to this way of thinking my list is probably very rudimentary and lacks sophistication, so I hope that those with more experience will add to it!


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