Loris Malaguzzi, was the founding director of the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education
. He was a social constructivist who was influenced by Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Montessori. Other notable psychologists such as Brofenbrenner, Bruner, and Gardner also influenced Malaguzzi's approach to education. When looking at Reggio Emilia, it is important to remember that it is an ‘Approach' and not a ‘Method,' meaning that it should be viewed as inspiration rather than a set of instructions.
Students of Emilia Reggio are seen as creative, capable and competent beings that can, through their interests and creativity, inspire their own curriculum. While independent thought and activity is important, collaborative work is also strongly encouraged. Children in Reggio Emilia classrooms use their five senses to explore the world around them and are encouraged to express what they observe in a creative manner. For the most part, the children are assessed based on their own potential development rather than on standardized norms of ages and stages. The goal of Reggio Emilia schools is to create independent children with rules, theories, values, inquiries, and solutions of their own. Another goal of the Reggio Emilia approach is for children to develop responsibility for themselves and the group as well as their own processes and products. In brief, the role of the learner in a Reggio Emilia classroom is to be an independent learner capable of collaboration, and to help form his or her individual curriculum through personal interests and explorations.