« Fueling the Pre-K Fire | Main | Hey Abbott! »

April 29, 2010

Vivian Paley: Culture and Play

Paley A reader recently commented on our blog and mentioned a writer and teacher I had not heard of before. Then, thanks to @FSSimon, I saw her name again - Vivian Paley. And I'm glad I did. Thank you, Fran, for introducing me to my new favorite education writer!
 
Her research, based on tape recording her students daily, provides a rare window into the minds of young children. She has called "play" the love of her life and her book, You Can’t Say You Can’t Play, A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play, discusses how her students grasp to understand community and acceptance, and its opposite - exclusion. These are incredibly hard concepts to understand -  even for adults - and here she is discovering how children do it at 4 years old!

Paley has said, "Every species practices being young." Humans practice the same way other species do, with the added dimension of imaginative play. Children practice pretending to be someone else, somewhere else. They step outside of themselves and invent abstract thought. Children are inventing learning as they play with ideas.
 
"I am intended to have my own ideas," Paley says, speaking as one of her subjects in this video. "That's why I play the way I do, to show myself what my ideas are and how necessary I am to the community."

When our at-risk students come to Head Start, we don't have the luxury of time. In many circumstances, we are trying to pack three years of play into nine months of school. You can't do that and just play in a classroom. So we try to find balance and "teach" some basic readiness skills like recognizing letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and make our lessons as "fun" as possible. But there is a difference between play and fun. Play occurs in children naturally when they are ready, teaching happens when the teacher is ready, and it will never, ever be as powerful as a child "inventing learning" for themselves.

Image: http://www.curry.edu/Academics/Majors+Minors+and+Departments/Education/Features/Vivian+Paley.htm

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.

.

Inside Pre-K

.

Current Author

John
John
Send me e-mail
I teach pre-k at a Head Start in Virginia. more...

Past Authors

Jennifer
Vanessa
Karissa
Sophia "Good Morning Children"

Recent Comments

Pre-K Now News

Visit Pre-K Now
Pre-K Now is a public education and advocacy organization that advances high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three and four year olds. Visit Pre-K Now >
.

Kids Quotes

Post a Kids Quote>>

Friends

BoardBuzz

Lead From The Start

Early Stories

Pre-K Vermont

The Early Ed Watch Blog

Urban Preschool

Links

Enchanted Learning

National Association for the Education of Young Children

Pre-K Now

Reading Is Fundamental

Scholastic

Teach for America

Teaching Our Youngest

The Perpetual Preschool

.
About Pre-K Now National Events Calendar 
© 2005-2008 Pre-K Now