Ms. Cheng addressed the 30th annivesary conference of WestEd's Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) in Berkeley, California. The conference was attended by PITC trainers from across the United States who represent the leading practioners of early childhood educational training. Ms. Cheng was invited to address this conference by Ron Lally and Peter Mangione, founding co-directors of The Center for the Chld and Family Studies. Peter has visited Anji twice, including addressing Chinese educators in Anji last June.
Ms. Cheng spoke from 8:45 to 10:15 AM. Her talk, “Children's Self-Determined Play: The Anji Approach to Early Learning,” addressed the history, development and principles of Anji Play, and the role of parents and teachers. The talk was met with a standing ovation, and a lively question and answer period followed, in which the audience was particularly interested in learning how to bring True Play to American students, the Anji approach to working with special needs students and low-income families, the dignity and economic circumstances of early childhood educators in the Untied States and China, the importance of parents in radically changing educational paradigms and practical questions about class size, age mixing and student-to-teacher ratios.
Following Ms. Cheng's talk, Carla Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children, who traveled from Reggio Emilia, Italy to participate in the conference, spoke about the philosophical and political implications of the Reggio approach, with specific focus on the increasingly diverse ethnic population of Reggio schools as larger number of migrants from the Muslim world settle in Italy. She also discussed the image of the child as economic models change the future orginazation of people's roles and activities within society.
From 1:30 to 3:00 PM, Ms. Cheng and Ms. Rinaldi took part in a dialogue entitled “Meeting of the Minds” a free-ranging discussion moderated by Drs. Lally and Mangione. Ms. Cheng and Ms. Rinaldi shared their views of the role of the child in society, their distinct approaches to early childhood education and their commitment to the children of their communities and the world. A true meeting of minds.