Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange is pleased to share with you the inspiration behind the REAIE Biennial National Conference to be held in SYDNEY in 2017.

The title of the conference is Landscapes of Identity: this conference will celebrate the complex identities of children as citizens with rights from birth, educators as researchers and families as participants in early childhood centres and schools as places of learning, democracy, and culture. 

Who am I then?  Tell me that first... And then, if I like being that person, I'll come up: if not, I'll stay down here till I'm somebody comes to get me.  I would like very much for someone to put their head in here and say something, because I am tired of being alone. (Carroll 1865)

Loris Malaguzzi was so inspired by this passage in Alice in Wonderland that he gave the title to a major conference held in Reggio Emilia in 1990.  The title, 'Who am I then, Tell me that first', took on a cultural and pedagogical manifesto to recognise childhood as having an identity and also the right of childhood to testify to an identity accepted and shared by children.

The words of Loris Malaguzzi testify to the importance "that this passage is important, a passage that has relevance not just today, it will be relevant tomorrow too, because the question of children’s education, the question of relations and the question of children’s identity all constitute a very difficult anthology". 

Malaguzzi goes on to say, "the great issue for us absolutely is not to impede childhood from giving testimony about itself.

What needs to be done is to give children the capacity, but how do you give the capacity if you do not concede the rights?

The right of children to be able to testify about themselves, to be the protagonists themselves, identified in an identity that they like too" (Moss, 2016, p.347).

Hoyuelos in describing Loris Malaguzzi’s identity, wrote "as that of all great people, his identity was multiple and flexible – a rack that allows itself to be dressed well in different clothes.  We cannot look at Malaguzzi through a single lens:  it is necessary to see him with a microscope, with a magnifying glass and with a wide angled lens" (Hoyuelos, 2013, p.37).

Carroll. L. (1865) Alice in Wonderland. London: Macmillan Publishers.
Cagliari. P. Castagnetti. M. Giudici. Rinaldi. C. Vecchi. V. & Moss. P. (2016) Loris Malaguzzi and the Schools of Reggio Emilia. London: Routledge.Hoyuelos, A. (2013). The ethics in Loris Malaguzzi’s philosophy. Iceland: Isadla ehf.