This chapter examines the roots of two distinctively Western notions – of childhood as a time for play, and of play as a mode of learning – and the continuing meaning of these notions for current practice with children and families from diverse communities. It begins by briefly outlining the historical and cultural contexts in which discourses around play arose, and reviewing their current power and pedagogical status. It then ques- tions the implications of these discourses for children growing up in the changing and plural world of twenty-first-century postindustrial soci- eties: first, by exploring the alternative, socio-cultural understanding of learning as a form of apprenticeship to the cultural activities of the en- vironments children inhabit; and then by discussing three examples of young children’s learning in English schools, homes and pre-schools. Rather than trying to define play itself (a project long cherished by psy- chologists; Rubin et al. 1983; Smith 1994, 2006; Göncü and Gaskins 2006), the chapter focuses on the different ways that learning through play is understood in different cultural contexts. How is the process of learn- ing understood by families and practitioners as they act in what they believe to be the best interests of children? How far do they agree about what is to be learned, as well as how? The chapter suggests that by adopt- ing Rogoff’s (1990) definition of learning as the transformation of par- ticipation in cultural activities, we can embrace a more inclusive understanding of learning: one which is both sensitive to the local cul- tural contexts in which children learn, and appreciative of their active endeavours in their own learning.
3 Learning to play, or playing to learn?
Children’s participation in the cultures of homes and settings
MHBK015-c03_p39-53.qxd 4/13/10 7:28 AM Page 39 Aptara
Brooker, Liz, and Suzy Edwards. Challenging Play, McGraw-Hill Education, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ubc/detail.action?docID=771397. Created from ubc on 2022-10-21 05:48:59.
A time when play was king