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A curriculum that articulates with youth, contemporary controversies and hopes

Case Study: The Reggio Emilia Approach

DESIGN – the emergent curriculum

The philosophical basis for the Reggio curriculum is the provisional nature of knowledge. Once it is accepted that knowledge is not fixed but changing then the argument for a prescriptive curriculum no longer holds. Reggio teachers start from where their children are – with their interests and their dispositions. They capture topics for study from the children's varied languages - for example, puddles, cats, dinosaurs - and these lead into projects which may be short or long term depending on the interest and commitment of the children. The city is used by the children as a learning resource for projects with teachers regarding the city as extended classroom space. Parents and other adults in the community play a part in the children's learning in projects like 'Rain in the City'

"Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of inquiry, then motivation and interest explode". - Malaguzzi
"Once should always start from where the child's interest and knowledge is and lead on from there". - John Dewey

*see full Case Study in the 'Research and Resources' section


Case Study: Madeley Court School (1977-83)

DESIGN – a curriculum grounded in 'ordinary life'

Time table allocation of long blocks of time in both the mini-schools of the first three years and the 'learning communities' in Years 10 and 11 made possible the teaching and learning of integrated or cross curricular studies. Within these blocks a core curriculum was followed consisting of the six broad subject areas which pre-National Curriculum were generally accepted as constituting a curriculum - English, Maths, Science, Social Science, Expressive Arts, Practical Arts. These 'subjects' were transformed into a community curriculum by rooting them in the life and experiences of the neighbourhood and by involving members of the local community in contributing to the children's learning. They became cross curricular studies by specialist teachers shaping their lessons around the understanding of concepts which reached across subjects rather than the delivery of facts relating to their particular subject.

Behind the classroom experiences of the children lay a consensus as to what constituted learning and knowledge – the development through a personal relationship with a teacher or other adult of the ability to pursue a line of inquiry and articulate and express to others the outcomes of that inquiry - and how the curriculum helped the individual child develop the characteristics of independence, autonomy, awareness of self and the skills of working productively and collaboratively.

*see full Case Study in the 'Research and Resources' section

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