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More than just finger paint

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This isn't your average finger painting.

Be prepared for a surprise when you visit the Hundred Languages of Children exhibit in the faculty of education, because your opinion about children's artwork is about to be challenged.

The exhibit--on display in the Doucette Library--shows the results of the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool education, which encourages children to use their own hands-on experiences to learn.

Dr. Patricia Tarr, associate education professor and project coordinator, noted that instead of children being needy, deficient or empty vehicles to be filled with knowledge, they are active agents participating in their education.

"It is not a method, but a challenging philosophy that we can be inspired by," said Tarr. "We must find our inspiration for our own contexts. We look at ourselves and reflect on what we believe about children and how they learn. In the exhibit, we see and hear how children make meaning and construct theories about the world."

Tarr cited the example of Laura, a one-year-old who tested a theory by experimentation. After seeing a picture of a watch in a magazine and listening to the beeps of her teacher's watch, Laura put her ear to the magazine, expecting to hear it beep.

The exhibit originated in 1980, when Loris Malaguzzi, an innovative Italian educator, opened an exhibit in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The exhibit demonstrates the results of Malaguzzi's education philosophy.

"Children have the right to be recognized as subjects of individual, legal, civil, and social rights, as both the source and constructors of their own experience, and thus active participants in the organization of their identities, abilities, and autonomy, through relationships and interaction with their peers, with adults, with ideas, with objects, and with the real and imaginary events of inter-communicating worlds," wrote Malaguzzi in his A Charter of Rights.

The exhibit coincided with the second annual North American Reggio Emilia Alliance conference hosted July 27-30 at the University of Calgary. The conference hosted 200 educators from Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Peru, Dubai and Jordan. The exhibit helped them share and build on their experiences teaching infants and toddlers, said Tarr.

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