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Reflections Magazine : Issue 50
4 Author: Dr Susan Irvine School of Early Childhood, QUT Still Valuing Play Play has had a prominent position in early childhood education and care (ECEC) for over 200 years. As educators, we tend to talk about young children learning through play as a matter of fact. In our first national Early Years Learning Framework (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, 2009), play is promoted as the right of all children, an integral part of being a child and as the prime context for learning in the early years. The word 'play' appears 68 times (Ortlip, Arthur & Woodrow, 2011), and there are frequent deliberate connections made between play and learning. This includes use of the term "play-based learning" (DEEWR, 2009: 46). While the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) defines its use of the term 'play', there are differing perspectives on what constitutes play, the relationship between play and learning, and the educator's role in play. In this context, it might be interesting to go a little deeper, and to look at some different perspectives on play and learning. Some historical perspectives To begin, it's worth taking a short stroll back through history to consider some early contributions to our understanding of play. French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), promoted a romantic view of childhood that established play as an important part of young children's development and learning. He argued that childhood was a unique, important and time-limited period of life that should be protected by adults and enjoyed by children: Love childhood, indulge its sports, its pleasures, its delightful instincts. Who has not sometimes regretted that age when laughter was ever on the lips and when the heart was ever at peace? Why rob these innocents of the joys that pass so quickly... (Rousseau, 1761/2008: 36-37).
Reflections Magazine Issue 51