Teaching Arts

June 12, 2023

In 2021, my role as an arts educator turned towards early childhood education, working in schools instructing dozens of students in yoga, mindfulness & music. It was through this that I became introduced to the Reggio-Emilia approach to education – a style of teaching that can be summarized by the following: 

It is an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in the relationships with others. Each child, like each human being, is an active constructor of knowledge, competencies and autonomies by means of original learning processes. [2017 TIJNAGEL-SCHOENAKER]

Reggio-Emilia is a true student-centered approach to teaching, and an approach that I will uphold in all of my learning spaces. It affirms the child’s chosen expression, and ultimately inspires activation towards the understanding of the world around them. Using what is referred to as “emergent curriculum”, lessons are driven and designed by the students for each and every class – meaning no two lessons were ever the same. I built our activities using their collective imaginations, and through surveying the smiles, laughs, and enthusiastic engagement, it seemed to me that they very much enjoyed it. And yet, unbeknownst to them, they were also benefiting from it too. It was like sneaking vitamins & vegetables into ice cream or cake. Here these five year olds were, exercising controlled breath, mindfulness and meditative practices, all-the-while pretending to be growing teeth, planted seeds, fallen apples, or whatever else their curiosities decided on. 

Since beginning this work, I have been the most invigorated and inspired as an educator. Requiring my consistent engagement, ability to analyze and adjust, and fluid mental dexterity, this work kept my mind & body sharp and focused! Soon though I would experience the truth of children speaking in 100 different ways. Some of my greatest learning moments was when I could not understand the language of some children. In some cases this was a literal spoken language barrier. In other moments, it was something more akin to mental, behavioral or physical limitations. It was these moments that advanced my capacity as an educator by developing processes & activities that could include everyone. The loveliest thing of all was that I had the support of the faculty to lead this explorative process week after week. 

I embark on my second year of this educational model, and I look forward to what new experiences await me in the coming chapter.


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