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The Playing-Exploring Child: Challenging the Dichotomy between Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Preschool Education Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9547-2892
Brooklyn College, USA.
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, School Based Research, Preschool Education Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3353-6170
2017 (English)In: Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, ISSN 1463-9491, E-ISSN 1463-9491Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

In this paper we problematize the play-learning dichotomy in early childhood education. We do this by theorizing the relationships among play, exploration, and learning. We propose a model that incorporates learning and development as outcomes of play and exploration. The argument we develop is based on Vygotsky’s theories of play, imagination, realistic thinking and creativity. From a Vygotskian perspective the conventional dichomization between imagination and reality does not make sense. Imagination is understood as central to both play and exploration. The model that we propose relates play to exploration and places learning, defined as leading to human development, as an outcome of both of these activities. This is in contrast to the conventional understanding of play as being linked to fantasy/imagination while learning is linked to reality, where learning/reality is understood as curriculum goals or abstract ideas or generalizations. Our proposed model is based on observations and analyses from a two year ethnographic research project. The project took place in three Reggio Emilia-inspired Swedish preschools. We argue that our proposed model offers new perspectives on the relationship between play and learning by introducing exploration as a third element. The model has research and pedagogical implications in early childhood education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Play, learning, exploration, imagination and realistic thinking
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-32260Local ID: HLKSkolnäraISOAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-32260DiVA: diva2:1045787
Available from: 2016-11-10 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2016-11-15

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