There is something that draws us in about light. Regardless of what we know about light, how it arrives to us during our day, or the extent of our understanding of its science, the presence of light invites us to ignite our sense of wonder. The feeling of delight that we have as adults when we are taken by a beautiful sunset, a shadow on a wall at dusk, or the shadows of light filtering in midday is what drives us as teachers to offer provocations of light with young children, our own sense of wanting to know more.
Our emphasis on light, comes from our deep understanding of how light calls our attention. It calls us to change color, form, motion, through personal perspectives, and to a universal source that brings unfamiliar objects into an elegant relationships. The first triggering elements are wonder and curiosity, the activation of a questioning intelligence and an inquiring mind. (1) Through a variety of opportunities to meet light, children are able to form and test out their hypotheses.
They engage in a process of constructing their own knowledge as they work through the theories and ideas that arrive as they explore light in a new way. (2) Their use of language becomes a means through which their understanding of light and it properties is constructed.
Light is vital for life.
This natural phenomenon provides us with warmth, nutrients, comfort and inquiry. It also has great metaphorical significance and creates an openness to dialogue and exchange that is both generated by experience and that generates experience… this language is highly visual and metaphorical. (3) As children engage with light, and begin to form comments about their experiences, they create a new language with which to extend their relationship with light. There is also an opportunity through this conversation to seek a new understanding. “We undoubtedly have a great love of metaphor; and this is primarily because children love and often make use of it. We see metaphor not as a rhetorical or stylistic device but as a genuine tool of cognition.” (Carlina Rinaldi, 2006)
Light has entered our Newtowne classrooms to begin a conversation with our children in many unique ways. As the children begin to meet light they are prompted to think about how light introduces itself to the materials it has just met.
As we work in these coming weeks to get to know light better, we are reminded that the messing about, the time to explore, the ability to be present with light, and the opportunities to meet light in a variety of ways is the work of our day. We test, we touch, we explore, we investigate and we move forward in our understanding of light, of the language of light, but also forward in our deeper understanding of ourselves and of each other.
Projection of Light Sets the Stage
1. (ref: Third edition, The Hundred Languages of Children, 2011, Reggio Children, p. 374).
2. (The Wonder of Learning, The Hundred Languages of Children, 2011, Reggio Children, p. 122).
3. (In Dialogue with Reggio Emilia, Rinaldi, p. 75. Rinaldi (2006),
4. The Informed Vision, Essays on Learning and Human Nature by David Hawkins Agathon Press 1974 , as referenced in: Messing About in Science (1965) Jeff Bloom