The Hundred Languages

The Hundred Languages

Everyday, when I pick my son up from kindergarten, I would see the poem of "The Hundred Languages" fill one of the walls at his school. I've probably read it many times but have never given much thought to it, until recently. And I'm just blown away by Loris Malaguzzi's illustration of a child's learning. 

Here's the poem.

No way. The hundred is there.
(by Loris Malaguzzi, founder of Reggio Emilia approach

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.

Such a powerful message. So profound. And it definitely makes us as parents take a step back and think things through.

As parents, it's only normal that we want to instil the knowledge that we know to our children. But sometimes, if we over do it, we are in fact then stealing the ninety-nine from them. And then there will be no new ideas, no new thoughts, no new nothing. They may end up just doing what we've been doing up till today.

Child-led play, open-ended play; this would encourage the hundred languages to be realised. It can be tough to take a step back and just observe and listen to our children, and only jump in whenever necessary, but I believe it's important. Especially if we want them to grow outside the box, to be unique individuals and to truly be who they are. 

Definitely something to ponder over the weekend. 

Until our next post, play always. 

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