Journeying to Make Reggio Emilia 'Our Own' in a University Lab School and Teacher Education Program

Zehrt, J E. R., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Covert, Robert W., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Burbach, Harold J., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Kneedler, Rebecca, Curry School of Education Department Code, University of Virginia
Hansen, Jane, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This study was undertaken to develop a rich image and understanding of the actions taken by the leaders in charge to translate the Reggio Emilia approach into their university Child Development Lab School and associated teacher education classes. As the university setting is one in which the links between theory, research and practice are highly visible, it is an ideal environment to examine the translation of the social constructivist based Reggio Emilia experience in depth. The data obtained in a series of interviews and through the examination of documents, relevant to the recasting of the Reggio Emilia approach, provided a rich picture of the context in which the translation occurred. Individuals interviewed in this study held the positions of lab school director, curriculum director/ atelierista, pedagogista and mentor teacher. The diversity of perspectives allowed for a full understanding of the translation.

In analyzing the data and seeking meaningful patterns, themes emerged, giving organization to the data. Each leader in change was attracted to Reggio Emilia, and, in particular, to specific elements of the Reggio Emilia experience based on individual interests that reflected the leader's identity and life experiences. The roles in the lab school, and corresponding actions in translating the Reggio Emilia experience, likewise, reflected identities and extended life journeys in the development and actualization of self. Actions for change that translated the Reggio-inspired, inquiry-based, social constructivist philosophy onto the physical plane were embedded within the university missions of teaching, research and outreach. Obstacles, or limiting aspects, that influenced the translation included differences in philosophical beliefs and associated rules and roles, alliance formation, and socio-political forces.

University lab schools with strong theory to practice and research links hold the potential for constructing rich, deep and full translations of the Reggio Emilia experience through university missions of teaching, research and outreach. The lab school supported the development and use of a broad spectrum of talents and dispositions in teachers and children. In the socio-political university environment collaborative dialogue, inter-subjectivity building, and extension and diffusion of change were hindered by philosophical differences, suggesting benefits in creating diverse philosophically-based schools within communities.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-02-18 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:37:00.

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