I first learned about the schools of Reggio Emilia 25 years ago when I viewed a traveling exhibit called “The Hundred Languages of Children.” The exhibit from Reggio Emilia, Italy was on display in the Chicago area and I can still vividly remember the sense of wonder and inspiration I felt when viewing the work of the Reggio schools for the very first time. For me, and for many other educators of my generation, that exhibit was a game changer.
“The Wonder of Learning” is an updated version of that original exhibit and it will open this month here in Madison. I’m excited to think about the impact this exhibit experience will have on the teachers here at PSA as well educators from all over Madison and beyond who will see “The Wonder of Learning” over the next five months. And I’m so proud of the role PSA has played in this collaborative project. Stacy Synold Mitchell, a previous PSA director, was the visionary leader who created the successful exhibit proposal four years ago. Since that time, we have been steadily building a coalition of local organizations that have raised funds, created professional development tools, and planned and managed the logistics of the exhibit installation.
“The Wonder of Learning” will be installed next week at the Central Library and Overture Center and will officially open on January 25. Our staff and board will celebrate the opening at a special opening event on the evening of the 24th. At PSA “The Wonder of Learning” will be the focus of all our professional development activities this winter and spring. PSA parents and guardians will visit the exhibit together at a series of Reggio Nights in February. As the only Reggio-inspired program in the Madison area, Preschool of the Arts will host tours of hundreds of educators from all over the state of Wisconsin and beyond who will come to Madison to see “The Wonder of Learning” and attend related professional development conferences.
My favorite section of “The Wonder of Learning” exhibit is a series of photographs that show children tracing a shadow on a wall. They begin to notice that the line of the shadow is moving and they don’t yet know why. At first they are frustrated that the line won’t hold still. Then they begin to observe and discuss what might be happening. Eventually one of the children comments, “Maybe it’s because of the sun, moving very, very slowly.” What an incredible moment of creative learning and discovery! I invite and encourage anyone with an interest in learning, creativity, and children to visit “The Wonder of Learning” and enjoy the many examples of inspirational teaching, learning, and creating.
Visit the exhibit website.