Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Reflections on PLAY and peace...

This image popped up in my facebook feed today... and it got me thinking about how I use my voice...

The reason I blog is to some extent speak my mind... to share my thoughts... to make a stand for children's rights, for play, for risky play... etc
to encourage listening - real genuine listening... not to just answer, but to understand...
making a stand for quality early years education... but also for education throughout life... it HAS to be meaningful and joyful... we need to feel safe to learn...
and this world of ours is starting to fray at the edges - as safe is not what it should be for far too many people around the world.
my thoughts are with ALL of those who endure violence - physical and psychological... in the home, on the streets or conflict areas where war and fighting have become the norm...
I send strength
But I wish for peace... and my contribution is not to pray... but to act... albeit very small. (this blog, my work in Palestine, workshops etc).. to share strategies that will help us raise a new generation of world citizens that will listen to each other, that will be more accepting of each other... and I know there are other educators that strive for this too...
Play for peace... real play for real peace... not adult controlled play for the appearance of order...

I think far too often there is a desire for order, yesterday I came across this in my facebook feed...
And it makes me think of the classroom... many educators want to create a democratic classroom where the children are co-learners and co-researchers and are central to their own learning - but I also think far too many go for order rather than peace... that there is the appearance of peace, because the classroom sounds and look harmonious... but it is due to the fact the classroom is being controlled by the teacher rather than the children self-regulating...

There needs to be justice in the classroom, in the ECE setting. That means listening to all sides of all stories to understand. To value all with equality. To not take all the space as a teacher... but to enable the children to be active participants...

To create a brighter. better and more peaceful future, where people (and I include children in the word people) are more accepting of each other, listen, respect but will also think critically and not follow blindly... we need to give children the skills to self regulate 8to be able to listen to others) to develop their empathy, to be able to think critically and to act respectfully even in a disagreement...

I am not saying we have to agree on everything, but we need to be able to explain why we don't agree and also be open to the opinions of others and that they might expand our own thinking.

We also need to learn how to work collaboratively... and that can be done through playing collaboratively...

play is essential

In another facebook interaction there was an exploration of play-based curriculum and what it means... it was asked by a person who then later went on to explain their very own strong opinions of what play-based was... in the sense that it did not feel as if this person had been open to the replies of the others... so I wondered why had this question been asked at all? But maybe it is also indicative of today's way of teaching... there is such a strong focus on getting people to express their opinions, to know their rights and not enough focus on how our opinions affect others, how we can listen to others and how our rights belong to us as a group and not just as a series of individuals in isolation... there is a competitive spirit fostered with grades and the present schooling system that maybe is not conducive of a collaborative and peaceful future... just thinking out loud here...

as for play-based...

I am not the one that likes to use the term "play-based curriculum" because I think there are so many interpretations of what play is and who it belongs to...
For me play belongs to us all and not just to children... play comes in many many forms and children (all people) need access to as many of these forms as possible... and to be exposed to new ones if they are not yet familiar with all of them...

I have worked with children in refugee camps, children in poverty stricken areas in Sweden and also in the wealthiest areas of Sweden all have been able to play... not all of them have had a full range of the play languages... I have also worked with children with special needs (or rights, depending on how you like to see it or phrase it) and have seen that many of these children have needed support with their play languages...
Whether a diagnosis or not there have been children that have needed, for a variety of reasons, support with their various play languages.. very often social play has needed support... as children have needed to self regulate, build language/communication skills etc - and all of this can be supported through play, but play that is lead, and designed by educators 

So careful setting up of the spaces, of material choices and activities to support and stimulate their learning and play needs to be planned. Through listening to the children and their needs and their interests, and by learning when to come in and support and when to back away and let them play or try themselves - are all part of the process in my approach as an educator of young children...

Play is an incredibly important word, it is central, but it is one of the words I use to create a curriculum with the children
listen
democratic
meaningful
joyful
respectful
caring

are also some of the words that are central and important for me... especially for creating a peaceful classroom rather than a controlled classroom.

But in another dialogue today the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk has been raised by myself and others (Tom Shea, Sue Martin) that we need to put all of this into action... not just talk about it and understand that all of this is important, to to ensure that this is happening in every classroom and in every ECE setting.
A respect for children and their competence... AS children. To value their learning, to value their play.




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