By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. Many years ago I declared myself Reggio inspired. Now along with others, and in collaboration with Acorn School, under the pedagogical leadership of Rosalba Bortolotti, we are declaring a dual allegiance and making it known that we are now Hawkins inspired as well.
Since 2013, when a contract was signed with the Hawkins Centers of Learning to bring to Canada an exhibit designed to disseminate the philosophy and theories of Frances and David, we have given educators many Hawkins inspired experiences in professional learning that stay true to the legacy of this amazing couple and we have in turn been unquestionably Hawkins inspired.
From October 2013 to December 2013, the exhibit was hosted by Richland Academy in Richmond Hill, Ontario and it was there that Dr. Ellen Hall from the U.S. based Hawkins Centers of Learning officially welcomed the exhibit to Canada. Since January 2014 the Acorn School, also in Richmond Hill, has been the host of the exhibit, and this Reggio- inspired environment has been the site of many tours and workshop experiences related to learning the Hawkins way.
Hawkins Exhibit at Acorn.
We hope to expand the reach of the exhibit and look forward to a special showing during the Education Exploration Project on June 1st at Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy, Toronto. This conference is an invitation to look closely and to build on creative and critical thinking skills within a community of like-minded professionals. We look forward to engaging with others to experience and learn while re-igniting a passion for play. I look forward to documenting this experience digitally and to dialogue about the possibilities of documentation, making learning visible, the environment as the third teacher, learning stories and theories, wonder and curiosity, play, creativity, inquiry-based learning, emergent curriculum and so much more.
Dialogic professional learning is critical to our beliefs in teacher development. We see the need for multiple perspectives to guide a teacher’s journey to become both Reggio and Hawkins inspired. I recently hosted a Twitter friend from Sweden in my home and it has opened my eyes to other perspectives in a way that felt very authentic. Suzanne and I became friends on Pinterest first, then Twitter and then Facebook. She follows my blog and I follow hers. What a gift to be able to spend time with Suzanne in person. When Suzanne and I crafted her itinerary we co-constructed a professional learning adventure for a community of professionals that involved love and respect. Suzanne was able to spend time in a lab school, a Reggio-inspired school and two kindergarten classrooms. In each setting, Suzanne met her friends that were once only seen virtually. All encounters were loving and respectful – the children, the teachers, other educators and friends over five full days of a Canadian adventure for Suzanne. For me I got to spend time with an enlightened preschool teacher who generously shared her fairy like magic.
Suzanne discusses together paintings at Acorn.
Suzanne was able to fly to Canada because she was propelled by Hawkins inspiration. This decision was a testimony to the widespread appeal and possibilities there are of the Hawkins exhibit. We would like to help it go across Canada. The cost is minimal to the receiving venue but the message is powerful and the experience transformational. We look forward to other venues hosting the exhibit as we journey forward in our mission to share the amazing connection that Reggio-inspired educators can make to the philosophy and theories of Frances and David. Suzanne’s generosity of spirit, knowledge and experience gave us a perspective that was both engaging and challenging. We invite you to visit her blog post, Interaction Imagination, with the images and quotes from her workshop. To learn with Suzanne at Acorn School with the exhibit surrounding us was another powerful experience not unlike what we have had before but different in a way that helped us understand professional messing about on a deeper level. It is our goal to continue to support the exhibit, which was not originally reproduced in a way that can travel long distances. When we first received the specifications from Hawkins Centers of Learning, due to an oversight, the exhibit that was created cannot be transported easily. We have to reproduce a travelling exhibit complete with crates that can be shipped to other, venues and hosting agencies/organizations/institutions in other provinces. All proceeds from our professional learning workshops and conferences have been going to fund the travelling Hawkins exhibit. We are guided by Ellen’s words that all roads lead to Hawkins and we are trying to discover possibilities for future sites to host this exhibit and to help us in our quest to have the philosophy of Frances and David Hawkins travel Canada. Turning to the words of David Hawkins in his essay entitled I, Thou, And It, we see the reason why we are volunteering our time and energy to spread this philosophy. Yes we do it out of passion and love for our Reggio and Hawkins inspired beliefs but it is much more than that. Hawkins refers to the philosopher Immanuel Kant and the proposition that “love is not enough”. For Hawkins in reference to children:
It is through our professional collaboration on Twitter via #ReggioPLC, our twice monthly live Twitter chats, and through the opportunities to mess about with our Twitter friends, colleagues and other professionals that we have come to realize the importance of love and respect not only for children but for each other as well – for adults.
To have respect for children is more than recognizing their potentialities in the abstract, it is also to seek out and value their accomplishments – however small these may appear by the normal standards of adults. But if we follow this track of thinking one thing stands out. We must provide for children those kinds of environments which elicit their interests and talents and which deepen their engagement in practice and thought. An environment of “loving” adults who are themselves alienated from the world around them is an educational vacuum. Adults involved in the word of man and nature bring that world with them to children, bounded and made safe to be sure, but not therefore losing its richness and promise of novelty (Hawkins, 2002, p. 51)
We invite you to be involved in the world of collaborative learning as we bring together professionals to mess about and learn in a loving and respectful way. We invite you to join us as we endeavour to journey with Frances and David Hawkins on the road to being both Reggio and Hawkins inspired.