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I am training the second child. Given a word, she needs to write one sentence with the word in it.

She was struggling. When I asked her what is wrong she explained patiently, ‘Amma, when you say ABOVE, the photo that comes to my mind has a red house with bird circling above it, children playing in front, tall trees from the backyard with branches spreading on the top floor. How do I put all this in ONE sentence?’

I felt like some one slapped me and I remembered this speech by Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of Reggio Emilia Approach.

The Hundred Languages

No way. The hundred is there.

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)
Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach


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