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Love, Respect & the Legitimacy of a Child’s World

(Image: ‘To have respect for children is more than recognizing their potentialities in the abstract.’The Hundred Languages of Children(2013) Image-Nana’s Christmas Pavlova, 2015 Yum.)

Intersections of the worlds of adults and children are hazy places. As adults, in our schools and homes, we  live in these places every day, but often don’t see them, or at least don’t recognize them. Reggio Emilia, a glorious Italian city, has some great perspectives that may help clear some of the haze. The distinction between love and respect in the Reggio Emilia approach can challenge some fairly deeply embedded assumptions. Do we love children? As teachers and parents, the answer is an easy, yes, but is it enough?

Respect gives us a different perspective and an additional challenge as David Hawkins relates in The 100 Languages of Children (2013):

Respect for the young is not a passive hands off attitude. It invites our own offering of resources…Love without respect can blind and bind…To have respect for children is more than recognizing their potentialities in the abstract, it is also to seek out and value their accomplishments – however small these may appear by normal standards of adults…An environment of ‘loving adults’ who are themselves alienated from the world around them is an educational vacuum. (p. 79-80)

Hawkins states that ‘we too easily learn only what we are prepared to accept,’ words that challenge us to question our readiness to accept the legitimacy of a child’s world. How far will we go to lift the haze? Love this book.

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