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SIRI, WHAT TYPE OF EDUCATION IS BEST FOR MY CHILDREN?

With quick and easy access in the palm of our hand to information such as today’s weather, the title of the song playing from the restaurant’s speakers, the best shortcut to work or how many calories we’ve burned in a day, we have become increasingly impatient with questions we might ask Siri that don’t come with fast, straightforward answers. In our pragmatic, quick-fix society, we want ready and definite solutions, even to difficult questions such as how to parent or what kind of education is best for our children, and become frustrated when we encounter an overwhelming amount of often-contradicting advice on the internet or from our friends and relatives.

Our hunger for certainty and unambiguous answers can also be explained by our fear of risk. In the case of parents, for example, we fear running the risk of making mistakes by experimenting with different ways of addressing our child’s temper tantrums or other behaviors, not to mention the fear of making an unsound educational and financial investment when enrolling our child in a particular school.

With quick and easy access in the palm of our hand to information such as today’s weather, the title of the song playing from the restaurant’s speakers, the best shortcut to work or how many calories we’ve burned in a day, we have become increasingly impatient with questions we might ask Siri that don’t come with fast, straightforward answers. In our pragmatic, quick-fix society, we want ready and definite solutions, even to difficult questions such as how to parent or what kind of education is best for our children, and become frustrated when we encounter an overwhelming amount of often-contradicting advice on the internet or from our friends and relatives.

Our hunger for certainty and unambiguous answers can also be explained by our fear of risk. In the case of parents, for example, we fear running the risk of making mistakes by experimenting with different ways of addressing our child’s temper tantrums or other behaviors, not to mention the fear of making an unsound educational and financial investment when enrolling our child in a particular school.

However, perhaps we should come to terms with the uncomfortable uncertainty of complex subjects such as parenting and education because there is no single absolute truth or right answer. In fact, we might do well in taking a dialectic approach to exploring these types of matters. That is, although it may take greater effort and courage, there is much to gain from investigating and discussing differing arguments and hypotheses surrounding a particular issue, especially elucidative when they challenge our own preconceptions; and though we may not find the truth in the end, we may very well make important discoveries in searching for it.

We may also be wise in tempering our aversion to the risk of not having definite answers, for it may be a riskier business to accept a final solution as incontestable and set in stone. After all, it has not been fixed, dogmatic thinking, but rather the relentless discussion of different theories that has brought about one of the most internationally-recognized pedagogical philosophies, born in Reggio Emilia after WWII.

Students at Habitat Learning Community® campus

Carla Rinaldi, former director of the municipal early childhood centers in Reggio Emilia, and successor to Loris Malaguzzi, one of the leading pedagogical thinkers of the 20th century, explains how Reggio Emilia is “a place of encounter and dialogue.” Its long tradition of dialectic thought and relationship with otherness continually nourishes and enriches its philosophy. Far from pretending to be a model, fixed program, benchmark or best practice, the Reggio Emilia philosophy remains in a process of constant revision and introspection, open to new possibilities and explorations. Its protagonists also welcome taking risks in the educational approach, for what possibilities of growth and discovery exist if we do only the same, familiar things?

As parents, we could greatly learn from the Reggio Emilia philosophy to become more comfortable with the idea of challenging our own views, being receptive to new ideas, and welcoming uncertainty and risk along the journey of lifelong learning, especially regarding matters that are of such great concern to us such as our children’s education and upbringing. We may finally be OK with Siri responding “Interesting question.”

by Rafael Rodríguez, General Director of Hábitat Learning Community

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