The Hundred Languages of Children

This poem by Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio-Emilia approach, beautifully conveys the important roles imagination and discovery play in early childhood learning. Much of Reggio-Emilia philosophy is based on protecting children from becoming subjected too early to institutionalized doctrines which often make learning a chore rather than an extension of natural curiosity.

 

 

 

The child is made of one hundred.

The child has a hundred languages

a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred

ways of listening

of marveling of loving

a hundred joys

for singing and understanding

a hundred worlds to discover

a hundred worlds to invent

a hundred worlds to dream.

The child has a hundred languages

(and a hundred hundred hundred more)

but they steal ninety-nine.

The school and the culture

separate the head from the body.

They tell the child:

to think without hands

to do without head

to listen and not to speak

to understand without joy

to love and to marvel only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:

to discover the world already there

and of the hundred they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

that work and play

reality and fantasy

science and imagination

sky and earth

reason and dream

are things that do not belong together.

And they tell the child that the hundred is not there.

The child says: No way. The hundred is there.