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The teaching and learning in the municipal early childhood education centers of Reggio Emilia, a city in Northern Italy, have inspired educators all over the world. In 1991, these schools were hailed as “the best preschools in the world” by Newsweek magazine. Around the same time, a group of educators in the greater Boston area started the first Reggio Emilia-Inspired Institute at Lesley University. The Institute, along with Reggio-inspired course offerings, has become a point of gathering and collaboration for early childhood teachers and researchers in North America and around the world.

The Reggio Emilia approach promotes the image of the child as capable, creative, and powerful, with the desire to connect with others, engage in learning, and explore materials in the environment. Schools are amicable places that foster deep relationships between children, teachers, family members, and community. The environment and materials are valued as the third teacher as children learn through engagement with materials intentionally set up by the teachers in the classroom. Teachers observe children’s intentions, interests, and development and use pedagogical documentation to guide their teaching.

Please join us in our third decade of studying the Reggio Emilia approach!

“The intention on the part of children to produce questions and search for answers is the genesis of creativity. The teacher’s job is to engage in a “relational creativity” with the child that both revels in the child’s creativity and stimulates the teacher’s own creativity to find ways to help the child observe, analyze, interpret, and build theories.”
-Carlina Rinaldi
Children looking at plants during Reggio Emilia Institute

Lesley University's 27th Annual Reggio Emilia-Inspired Institute 

Beautiful Science, Creative Technology: Applying a Reggio Emilia- and Hawkins-Inspired Lens to 21st Century Materials



Location: Lesley University Porter Campus (1815 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA)

Speakers: Educators from the Boulder Journey School, Boulder, CO & Lesley University, Cambridge, MA

Often when we consider the terms, “art and science,” or “nature and technology,” we think of them in diametric opposition. In actuality, both art and science uncover understandings of the world in which we live, and explorations of nature and technology simultaneously support and deepen our relationships with the environment. 

Children are innately predisposed to examining the world around them and making meaning through the use of materials. With the advancement of technology, we have access to a range of materials that present innumerable new possibilities. Join us as we examine the ways children engage in scientific exploration and our roles, as teachers, in connecting them with 21st-century materials that move engagement beyond passive consumption into active creation. 

“Until the special culture of science becomes more deeply embedded in our general culture… we will as a society remain in a state of alienation from the very substrate of our lives.”
-David Hawkins

Who are the Hawkins?

Influential to the experiences in the schools in Reggio Emilia has been the theory and practice of two American educators, David and Frances Hawkins. At the Reggio Emilia-Inspired Pre-Institute in 2010, the Hawkins’ influences were introduced to us through the work of Hawkins Center of Learning and Boulder Journey School in Boulder, CO.

In 2020, the educators from Boulder Journey School returned after 10 years and shared their inspired work in a virtual session called Beautiful Science, Creative Technology.

Hawkins from Hawkins Centers of Learning on Vimeo

Kids looking at a phone

Reggio-Inspired Professional Development Opportunities: 

Graduate Credits: EEDUC 5815 The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education

This course is linked to the 27th annual Reggio Emilia-inspired Institute on the topic: Beautiful Science, Creative Technology. Also considered are the history and philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach, organization of the environment, the teacher’s role, the role of the studio teacher (atelierista), and the relationship between school and community.

The course is for Lesley University students as well as early childhood teachers (infant-toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade) seeking professional development.


"It is not easy for teachers to provide for a kind of learning they do not know and appreciate themselves from experience. I digress here to make a plea not only for children, who suffer when a teacher does, but for the many teachers I meet who are unhappy, bored, and lost.”
-Frances Hawkins
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