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Ways of Working: Teachers as Play Partners Kathy Goouch

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1 Ways of Working: Teachers as Play Partners Kathy Goouch

2 Playful pedagogies: storying relationships Why do some teachers feel able to respectfully locate themselves in children’s storying play spaces, in an organic pedagogy, developing out of the moment? Can such practice be described as intuitive:- ‘explicit knowledge and implicit “know how” braided together’ (Atkinson and Claxton 2000)? Who are the teachers who engage in serious and complex play interactions and narrative co constructions with children? What sustains them at a time when professional identity is being reconceptualised in relation to performativity, levels of professional accountability and new professional cultures?

3 Teachers, educators, practitioners, professionals 1. Is teaching a technical act or a personal activity? 2. If teacher belief and action are bound together (Mclean 1991) then: What is she embracing in her practice and what is she rejecting? What is her relationship with prescriptive pedagogies? Have teachers become one dimensional transmitters of politically defined knowledge or can they still be defined as ‘reflective practitioner, researcher, co constuctor of knowledge, culture and identity’ (Moss and Petrie 2002)?

4 Appropriation of Play: Who is Claiming the discourse? play is often ‘allowed’, children are given permission to play teachers lead, direct, redirect, approve or reject children’s utterances Vygotskian ‘zone of proximal development’ Bernstein’s idea that we use play as a means of ‘surveillance’ Bakhtinian question – who is doing the talking? Bakhtin claims ‘there can be no such thing as an absolutely neutral utterance’ ‘consensual dialogue’ (Carter 2004:67) young children invariably give permission for intimacy in dialogic exchanges with adults

5 If nobody speaks of remarkable people….. 2 practitioners Observation Interview Film Conversation Collaborative analysis

6 What are the influences on their pedagogy? Prevailing political discourse? The detail of national strategies? The built environment? Own values, intentions, personal drive, impulses, visions? Travel and ‘lessons from abroad’ Children? Guiding philosophy or ‘cut and paste’? Mentors/ communities of practice?

7 Similarities Both demonstrate absolute respect for children; Both demonstrate absolute respect for play, play stories and play contexts; In both practices, the power of their relationships with the children is evident; In both practices, knowledge of the children is implicit in talk and actions; Both teachers appear to be intuitive in their responses and their practice generally; There was evidence of complete trust in the teachers by the children; There was no apparent predetermined ‘direction’ to the play.

8 Differences J initiates, models, participates, multi-voices, is a player and a play narrator; M is an ‘addressee’, leaves respectful spaces, observes more than plays

9 ‘I would describe myself as someone who thinks that relationships are the most important thing, with parents and children – without them you have nothing’ ‘As I’ve grown in understanding about parenting and parents, I realise that only by understanding and responding to parents, supporting them, will I have any lasting impact on the child’. ‘If you want to get to the children, build up real relationships, its no good being “the teacher”.’ Relationships

10 Pedagogy ‘children are amazing. They’re amazed at what seems ordinary. Its awe and wonder with little children’ ‘knowledge is a small part, I’ve just got more confident that that’s not the most important part of my role’ ‘its for them to come to me, not for me to decide what’s important to them, you’ve got to let them take you’ ‘I don’t want to know what’s going to happen before the children, some of the best things happen when I just give it a go’.

11 Professional reflections ‘I can see what I do at work – feedback from parents, teachers and children – is positive’ ‘my practice is good, I work at it, I know where it needs to improve’ ‘sometimes I stop and look around and they’re all involved; someone else can look around and think that’s easy but its not’

12 Influences on play pedagogy Everything I do now comes from me, at the core, and experiences, courses, children and colleagues; Subconsciously, these influences get caught, like a filter, some things stick; I’m the teacher I am because of who I am; ‘Next steps’ is malarkey; We don’t do ‘stick it here dear’ ‘you best guess their intentions and purposes’, ‘observing, listening and making sense of what you see’, ‘influencing but not imposing’

13 Intuitive teachers: function fluently and flexibly in complex domains without being able to describe or theorise their experience; extract intricate patterns of information that are embedded in a range of seemingly disparate experiences; make subtle and accurate judgements based on experience without accompanying justification; detect and extract the significance of small, incidental details of a situation that others may overlook; take time to mull over problems in order to arrive at more insightful or creative solutions: apply this perceptive, ruminative, inquisitive attitude to one’s own perceptions and reactions. (Claxton 2000:51)

14 Remarkable teachers: Occupy the ‘plane of the personal’ rather than a purely functional position (Peters 1966:94); Understand connections (between learning, play and policy); Intuitively know that ‘tribal morality’ is ‘ peripheral to our personal integrity’ (Allport 1955: 34); In answer to ‘who is doing the talking’ (Wertsch 1991:130) – everyone is.

15 In play, in teaching and in learning: how we measure ‘success’ matters; we need to decide whose intentions are to be represented and fulfilled? there is enormous potential (where else is it possible in children’s lives?) for intimacy and response how we construct children, childhood, play, school and education needs to be honestly articulated whose ‘zone’ is it anyway?

16 Ways of Working: Teachers as Play Partners Kathy Goouch


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