Thursday, January 20, 2011


My usual elation regarding a snow day is subdued tonight. Can't get into why...but I feel the need to share a poem I wrote last summer, inspired by a poem written by Loris Malaguzzi of the Reggio Emilia Preschools in Italy, (widely regarded the best in the world).  I'm posting both--Malaguzzi's first, followed by mine:

The Hundred Languages Of Children
The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.
The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

Loris Malaguzzi
(translated by Lella Gandini)

The Teachers Know

The hundred is there!
The hundred is there!
I am a teacher
and I know this secret:
The child has 100 languages.
My job is to observe and discover,
document and guide,
provide and inspire,
encourage and push.
This is the only way to unlock the secret
and once unleashed...
The power is limitless...
obstacles are overcome, lights shine, the earth moves...

The teacher must find precious uninterrupted time
to watch and play
to imitate and wonder
to laugh and cry
to hurt and heal
to discuss and imagine
To develop thoughts, concerns, inspiration and motivation.
And the end of this beautiful journey
takes place at the beginning of another.
Each member of this marvelous group moves on 
to different paths on which to share their languages with others...
and the power ignited by unleashing those
languages has added
a hundred hundred hundred more

But the teacher must know the secret
know it in every interaction,
every choice, every gaze, every time:
The hundred is there!
The hundred is there!
The hundred is there!

June 2010