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How Learning Groups Benefit Children and Adults the Subject of Upcoming HGSE Askwith Forum

Carla Rinaldi, director of early childhood education for the Reggio Emilia schools in Italy will join Harvard Project Zero director Steve Seidel and Hobbs Professor Howard Gardner on December 6 at an HGSE public forum to talk about the benefits of learning groups to both children and adults. The discussion will address the findings from a four-year partnership between the Reggio schools and Project Zero, which are captured in the new book, Making Learning Visible: Children as Individual and Group Learners.

The discussion, part of the Askwith Forum, will take place on December 6 from 6:00-7:30 pm in HGSE's Longfellow Hall on Appian Way in Cambridge.

An Illustrious Partnership

The Municipal Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia are internationally acclaimed for their innovative pedagogy and have been called the best preschools in the world by Newsweek magazine. Project Zero is an internationally renowned research center that focuses on understanding creativity and cognition in children, adults, and organizations.

With a combined experience of over sixty years, these two organizations collaborated to address one of the most important and timely issues in education today: how people work and learn together in groups. While children are together in schools all the time, they do not often work together in learning groups. Project Zero and Reggio Emilia's collaboration makes clear that exceptionally powerful learning happens in groups, and that documenting this learning is an inextricable part of the learning itself, both for the children and the teachers. As American educators grapple with the challenges of preparing youngsters for school, helping them gain literacy skills, engaging them in disciplinary studies, and encouraging them to solve problems in peaceful ways, an understanding of how to promote group learning becomes essential.

In Making Learning Visible, these issues are examined through multiple languages and perspectives. Detailed descriptions from Reggio classrooms--including vignettes that illustrate group learning in action--along with a theoretical framework for understanding and supporting learning in groups provide a persuasive argument for how these ideas might influence American preschool classrooms and classrooms with other children. The book addresses questions such as:

  • As our society becomes more group-oriented in the workplace and in school, how can we work together to solve problems and acknowledge and respect diverse points of view?
  • How can we make room for group learning in a society where rewards are based on scores on individually administered tests?
  • Should assessment be as much about how children learn and make meaning as it is about the products and outcomes of that learning?

Bringing Reggio to Massachusetts

Three schools in Massachusetts are currently partnered with Project Zero researchers to investigate group learning in an American context. Eight teachers--six at schools in Cambridge and two in the Dennis-Yarmouth School District--are exploring how the Making Learning Visible ideas can strengthen their teaching. For information on visiting one of these schools, contact Terri Turner at 617-496-8233.

For More Information

Contact Margaret R. Haas at 617-496-1884 or via e-mail


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