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Reggio Emilia-Inspired Programs in the United States: What Does "Inspired" Really Mean?
Ritblatt, ShulamitLongstreth, SaschaCronan, Thereasa
Since the 1991 Newsweek article on the 10 Best Schools in the World, the Reggio Emilia approach has become a household name, especially in the early childhood community. Thousands of educators flocked to professional development seminars offered in the United States and abroad to learn more about this inspirational educational philosophy. Within the last decade, many schools made adjustments to their environment, documentation, and professional development practices and now call themselves "Reggio-inspired." However, unlike other commonly-seen early childhood approaches like the Montessori Method, the Reggio Emilia Approach does not come with a teacher's manual, pre-set materials, a preschool accreditation program, or a teacher training. Instead, Reggio Emilia educators warn foreigners not to simply copy their practices, but to reflect on their own principles and culture of their families and staff. Since no guidelines are in place and centers are left to adapt this philosophy in a way they see fit, what does the Reggio-inspired approach- that so many teachers are inspired by and families seek for their preschool-age children- really means? In order to begin answering this question, several components of this research study were developed. The first was a creation of a measurement tool, in a form of a survey, which evaluated the level of adherence between Reggio Emilia- inspired programs in the United States with those in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Because this measurement tool has not been previously tested on any population, the researcher established content validity using experts' feedback, ethnographical research, and focus groups. Since two versions of the measure were created in this study the perception of adherence for the directors and teachers of preschool centers were compared to determine whether variation existed. This study provides several important findings: (1) key sub-categories that made up the Reggio-inspired approach in the United Sates, (2) there was not a significant difference between the level of adherence of teachers and directors, (3) a positive, strong correlation existed between the level of adherence for directors and the socioeconomic level of families the program serves, (4) further studies are needed to establish reliability and validity for the measurement scale.
Child and Family Development
Master of Science (M.S.) San Diego State University, 2014
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