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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 54
13 REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • AUTUMN 2014 - ISSUE 54 In showing these two extracts, we see that the children and teacher describe play from different standpoints, highlighting how children's own perspectives can disrupt everyday concepts such as play used in early childhood education. The children only used the term 'play' after it was introduced by the teacher. Reflections Investigating children's views builds evidence to support practice and enhance professional understandings. Evidence-based practice involves "engagement with emerging evidence for understanding issues relevant to our work as educators" (Busch & Theobald, 2013: 318). As found in this study, such an evidence base provides a foundation for professional renewal. As the teacher-researcher from Extracts 1 and 2 commented in her reflections: I still feel that perhaps their play is so much a part of them, at this age -- an extension of what they are thinking and feeling, that they do not name it as you might a separate thing that you do. Play is part of who they are. I felt, in all the interviews, that their naming of what they were doing as "playing" or their identification of what was "play" came from my input rather than their understanding. These discussions by the children, and the teachers' responses during the workshop, open up possibilities for considering the role of play in early childhood classrooms. Why did the children not describe their activities as play? Was it because they were more focused on the specifics of the activity and were orienting to that? Both extracts suggest that play is a category established by the teacher, and used only by the children when introduced by the teacher, as shown in Extract 1. In this, we are reminded of Denzin's (1982) view that play is the work of children; but is this an adult construction? What would the children make of that? Acknowledgments Thank you to the teachers and children at The Gowrie Queensland Affiliated Kindergartens, and for the financial support from The Gowrie QLD and the QUT Children and Youth Research Centre, Health Wellbeing and Happiness Program. References: Busch, G. & Theobald, M. (2013). Evidence-based practice. In Pendergast, D. & Garvis, S. (Eds.) Teaching Early Years : Rethinking Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW. Denzin, N. K. (1982). The work of little children. In C. Jenks (Ed.), The sociology of childhood: Essential readings. (pp. 189-194). Aldershot: Gregg Revivals. Extract 2 T-Researcher: Anything else that can be - when you're painting, Katie, because I know you like painting, do you call that playing or not? Katie: No. T-Researcher: No? Would you - what would you call it? Katie I'd call it painting. T-Researcher: You would call it painting, okay. What about when we're on the carpet and we're doing music together or we're sharing a story together? Do you call that playing? Katie: No. T-Researcher: What about you, Nina? Would you call it playing? Nina: I would call it listening. T-Researcher: You'd call it listening. That's probably a good word for it. We say we have to listen on the carpet, don't we? Okay, thank you for that. After the teacher continued to ask the children about what activities constituted play, similar to Extract 1, Nina and Katie distinguished between 'play' and 'not play.' Nina resisted naming the teacher's suggestion that the activities were play. Nina rejected the teacher's suggestion that play included activities such as reading stories and listening to music; rather she named these activities as 'listening'. Similarly, Katie provided a more specific description, naming the activity as 'painting' rather than as 'play'.
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014