Most educators I know are collectors: seashells, pebbles, leaves, twigs…
books, blogs, memories and treasures…
We hang on to anything that might be useful in the classroom, anything that might spark or inspire or connect our learners. Many of us have a collection of loose parts for imaginative play, math, art, makers space, and other activities. With these collections, comes the challenge of storage and organization (and patient partners who put up with our collections taking up so much storage space.)
Imagine if there was a place one could go to pick up an incredible variety of materials to be used for art, exploration, makers space, and more, materials that would push us to think differently about their possibilities.
I recently visited the Remida centre, housed in the Helen Gordon Child Development Centre in Portland, Oregon. This space, filled with a variety of scrap materials and discards collected from local business and industry, is inspired by the Remida Centres in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The name is an amalgam of Reggio, reuse, recycle, and Mida, for King Midas, whose touch turned every object to gold.
They had shelves and drawers of well organized bits and pieces that could be repurposed in all kinds of ways. I wondered, what does it mean if we value discarded objects as if they were treasures?
What if we present these materials, just as we do the beautiful provocations for learning in our classrooms, in a way that sparks curiosity and wonder?
The Remida Centre puts these questions into practice, connecting educators with these materials and inviting students to consider new ways to use them. Children in the Child Development Centre have used the Remida materials in their own work, and the results are incredible expressions of children’s thinking and learning.
Children will find interesting and unique ways to use all kinds of materials. I brought home a few scraps to add to my own collection and am excited to see how my students will choose to use them. Moreover I wonder, how can we create this kind of resource for our local educators, schools, and children to access? Are there spaces within our schools, district offices, or city halls where these kind of resources can be gathered and made available? Not only would such a space divert valuable resources from the landfill, it would encourage educators and students to think differently about the way we use materials. A place like Remida is valuable, not only because of the art and artefacts that might be created, but for the learning that happens – the treasure of thinking that can be made visible using the language of materials.
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.
– Loris Malaguzzi