By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. Documentation is now in the mainstream of education literature, research and practice. The Ontario government supports the use of documentation in early years settings and this is evident on the OELF (Ontario Early Learning Framework) website: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/oelf/observation/
When you look at this website and the words used to describe the process of documentation, the word “DISPLAY” is not used. As shown in the diagram below, there are three essential elements to the documentation process– OBSERVE, DOCUMENT and INTERPRET(ATION). The word DISPLAY does not appear!!
I have been noticing a lot of Pinterest action about Reggio inspired documentation but we find it disturbing that the word DISPLAY is used so often. When we were in Reggio Emilia for the 2011 Study Tour, the educators there always spoke of the process of documentation as including the three elements of observation, documentation (making learning visible) and interpretation. Documentation is supposed to lead the curriculum but it can become stagnant and static if it stops at the point of DISPLAY.
Invite interpretation of your documentation from colleagues, families, children and others. You will gain insight and multiple perspectives that will help you make authentic and meaningful curricular decisions. Reggio inspired early learning professionals are committed to documentation that is open to interpretation. Make documentation inviting, make it interactive, share it and take joy in the interpretations of others as it will give you direction. Where the process will go cannot be determined. In Reggio Emilia, the image of knowledge is seen from the metaphor of a tangle of spaghetti (rhizome)– with no beginnings and no end, but always an in between, with openings towards other directions and places. Knowledge as spaghetti and the pedagogy of listening produce the concept and practice of progettazione (Moss, 2006). For the educators at Reggio, teaching and learning becomes an art that is expressed through the use of progettazione, project curriculum constructed with documentation (Rinaldi, 1998). Planning for children needs to involve a flexible approach to curriculum involving the development of hypothesizes that are subject to modification and change of direction. By inviting interpretation through your documentation your projects will take flight! For more information: http://www.reaie.org.au/component/content/article/65
Language is powerful. Should we be thinking about refraining from using the word DISPLAY? What do you think? Does the use of the word display in relationship to documentation run the risk of creating very pretty and visually appealing bulletin boards that are not really Reggio inspired. To be Reggio inspired, documentation must include the three elements – OBSERVE, DOCUMENT and INTERPRETATION. Can we move beyond DISPLAY?
Inviting Interpretation through Documentation
What Gives Soil it’s Soil-ness?
Moss, P. (2006). Early childhood institutions as loci of ethical and political practice. International Journal of Educational Policy, Research, & Practice: Reconceptualizing Childhood Studies. Volume 7. http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ795124.pdf
Rinaldi, C. (1998).Projected curriculum constructed through documentation-progettazione: An interview with Lella Gandini. In C. Edwards, L. Gandini, &
G. Forman (Eds.), The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education (pp. 113 – 125). Norwood, NJ: Albex.