The Southern Cross : July 2010
The Southern Cross July 2010 Page 9 www.adelaide.catholic.org.au feature KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTHERN CROSS (S.A.) INC (KSC) invites nominations from individuals or groups for the KSC SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARD FOR SA FOR THE YEAR 2010 The activities in Social Justice should be currently under way or have recently been completed in the State of South Australia. For further information regarding eligibility, criteria and nomination forms contact: KSC Social Justice Award P.O. Box 681 Plympton SA 5038 Phone (08) 8371 3301 Fax (08) 8371 3949 E-mail : email@example.com Applications close 31 August 2010. KSC SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARD Happier, calmer, more confident children -- it's what all parents strive for. Rebecca DiGirolamo looks at four Catholic schools in Adelaide at the forefront of a teaching philosophy that appears to be delivering the goods and has even caught the interest of the South Australian Government. Reggio Emilia -- an educational program from nor thern Italy -- is inspiring hundreds of schools across Australia to challenge the mainstream education system. One Catholic primar y school in Kensington motivated by the Reggio Emilia approach has been shaping its curriculum into a unique learning experience for its little people since 2005. St Joseph's Memorial School was one of the first Catholic schools in Adelaide to incorporate the spirit of Reggio Emilia at its junior campus, on Bridge St. Helena Card -- the school's assistant principal (Religious Identity and Mission) and curriculum coordinator says: "The Reggio Emilia philosophy recognises the potential in ever y child. It is about preser ving childhood and valuing children, providing authentic and engaging learning environments where the image of the child is respected." The school's pre-school coordinator, Gail Mantel, says Reggio Emilia- inspired schools focus on literacy and numeracy as well as engage the children's hear ts and souls as much as their minds. "It fosters in each child a knowing that they are rich in potential and are already active citizens contributing to society," says Ms Mantel. The pre-school is the stepping stone for the "Reggio" way of learning, which permeates predominantly through to Year 2. However, principal Craig Fosdike says "Reggio" enriches the school's entire curriculum and sits well within the Catholic ethos of the school. "The Reggio Emilia philosophy... is about best practice and valuing early years education," says Mr Fosdike. South Australian Premier Mike Rann has asked Early Childhood Development and Education Minister Jay Weatherill to fur ther explore the benefits of Reggio Emilia. Mr Weatherill visited St Joseph's Memorial School last month. Soon after his visit to St Joseph's, Mr Weatherill travelled to the bir thplace of the pedagogy -- the nor thern Italian city of Reggio Emilia. The city is recognised world- wide for its innovative approach to education initiated by Loris Malaguzzi after World War II. David Wright, from Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange, says Reggio Emilia is based on the principles of respecting the views of children by allowing them to question, reflect, problem solve, experiment and theorise through language, ar t, each other and the environment, which is considered a "third" teacher in its own right. As a result, Reggio Emilia-inspired schools are visually enriching and designed to enable interaction between children, the school and the community. There are many photographs documenting children's work along with transcripts of their discussions. And teachers are considered researchers, obser vers and co-learners, not just instructors. Tina Adamo, principal at Galilee Catholic School (R-7) in Aldinga, visited Reggio Emilia in 2005 and has been aware of the teaching philosophy since the 1980s. She says "Reggio" has helped inspire a "deeply, deeply Christian" reconnection for the school. "It fits within a Christian context and it compliments and even leads us to understand our own Christianity more," she says. "All of our visitors, without exception, comment on how come your kids look so relaxed?" It's because they feel at home, Ms Adamo reflects. She says the children feel understood and valued by their peers and teachers and are not afraid to enquire. "They are great thinkers here." At Seaford, All Saints Catholic Primar y School principal Helen Ward repor ts a similar experience with her students. "We think the benefits (of Reggio Emilia) for our children have been around the kids being calmer and more engaged," says Mrs Ward. Reggio Emilia was introduced to All Saints Catholic School (R-7) about three years ago. Mrs Ward says Reception to Year 5 classrooms were transformed into light-filled open spaces, with round tables, furniture in natural materials, and lots of open shelving to display children's work. "There is this great sense in the Reggio approach, which is fundamentally a Catholic ethos too, that the child is already gifted and is a citizen now -- that is ver y respectful of the child," says Mrs Ward. Rosemar y Allen, director of the Ignatius Early Learning Centre, at Nor wood, says the Reggio Emilia approach has a distinct similarity to the Ignatius philosophy of a life-long love of learning and is an obvious choice for the centre, which opened last year. CIAO REGGIO: St Joseph's Memorial School pre-school co-ordinator Gail Mantel with children in their Reggio Emilia-inspired classroom. Fourth R is for Reggio WINTER V OPEN D AY Sunday 1 August 2to4pm Come and feel the Loreto di erence ... LORETO COLLEGE 316 Portrush Road, Marryatville South Australia 5068 T 08 8334 4200 E firstname.lastname@example.org www.loreto.sa.edu.au A Catholic day & boarding school for girls from Early Learning to Year 12.