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Westminster Institute of Education PRIMARY CHILDRENS PLAYGROUND GEOGRAPHIES Professor Simon Catling GA Conference, Derby, April 10 th, 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Westminster Institute of Education PRIMARY CHILDRENS PLAYGROUND GEOGRAPHIES Professor Simon Catling GA Conference, Derby, April 10 th, 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Westminster Institute of Education PRIMARY CHILDRENS PLAYGROUND GEOGRAPHIES Professor Simon Catling GA Conference, Derby, April 10 th, 2010

2 Westminster Institute of Education In the playground

3 Westminster Institute of Education Introduction The context: Childrens Geographies. Primary school children spend some 20% of their school day in the socio-spatial environment of their school playground. Teachers provide this opportunity for children to be at play, having time out in school, letting off energy, having fun, chatting to friends, mooching about, occasionally in conflict, sometimes on the edge of things… Playtime and the culture of the playground is a significant experience for children, a sizeable part of a schools hidden curriculum. Playgrounds and school grounds are spaces that matter to and have an impact on childrens experiences and socialisation.

4 Westminster Institute of Education Eight varieties of playground spaces All-weather open space: the main playground area; Pathways and edges: paths, flower beds, seats; Tucked away spaces: between buildings, corners, hidden; Local feature spaces: micro-features, eg drain covers; Calm spaces: quiet areas, eg seated area, shelter; Play grounds: area for play, eg climbing frame, rough ground; In-use/out-of-use spaces: time or weather constrained, eg field; Out-of-bounds spaces: permission needed, eg grass areas.

5 Westminster Institute of Education Various school playground spaces

6 Westminster Institute of Education Examples of childrens playground activities Play examples Energetic games, eg football; Co-operative games, eg tag; Imaginative play, eg homes; Imitative play, eg dressing up; Toy play, eg with model vehicles; Games play, eg marbles; Being friends, eg sitting and talking. Examples of geographies Bounded territories; Feature-based sites; Fuzzy or overlapping spaces; Rules of place use/action; Space/place constraints; Imagined places; Crowded/under-populated places; Managed places.

7 Westminster Institute of Education Primary childrens experiences of school playgrounds: Overview Childrens views on their school playgrounds; Contingent geographies of the playground; Playgrounds of conflict; Childrens perspectives on teachers values; Playgrounds children desire; Childrens interest in their own playground needs.

8 Westminster Institute of Education Childrens experience – 1 Childrens views on their school playgrounds: Uniformity boring – variety colourful; Playgrounds provide affordances: opportunities; Playground potential: doing, feeling, thinking, being. Contingent geographies of the playground: Playground socialisation; Inclusive/exclusive practices – liminalisation; Teacher control/manipulation.

9 Westminster Institute of Education Childrens experience – 2 Playgrounds of conflict: Sites of escape, letting of steam and minor conflicts; Clashes, scrapes and upsets; Bullying and marginalization. Childrens perspectives on teachers values: Teachers avoidance of playgrounds; Playgrounds as not of school; Creating varied and stimulating playgrounds.

10 Westminster Institute of Education Childrens experience – 3 Playgrounds children desire: Playgrounds of opportunity: nature and variety; Creating special places – personalising; School grounds as learning environments. Childrens interest in their own playground needs: (Lack of) engaging children in playground development; Co-operative play use and grounds improvement; Trusting and involving children.

11 Westminster Institute of Education Playgrounds are learning spaces

12 Westminster Institute of Education Emerging issues and developments Seven facets of childrens playground geographies Playground spaces: from deserts to landscapes; Playground experience: from lonely sites to co-operative play; Making use of playground spaces: conventional and imaginative; Using playground equipment: formal structures, games equipment and personal items; Playground socialisation: being people in places and groups – inclusion and exclusion; Site learning: knowing what is and happens where, and about transgression; Children as playground partners: children as environmental participants.

13 Westminster Institute of Education A mixture of spaces

14 Westminster Institute of Education Evaluating playgrounds Evaluative criteria might include: The variety of play and social spaces available and how they are used and looked after; Children caring for their playground environment and each other; The range of activities that children are encouraged to engage in, and catering for differing interests; The demeanours and roles of adults with children; The relationships between older and younger children in using and playing in the playgrounds; Children able to contribute their views and ideas for future developments.

15 Westminster Institute of Education Investigating childrens playground geographies This is an area in which research is increasing though it is still limited. Involving children Researchers have been adults. One question concerns how children might be involved in such research. Increasingly younger children are being involved in research in primary schools. This concerns increasing their agency in investigating, interpreting and understanding their own lives and experiences. Co-researching with children involves working with them on possible methods to use. Some possible techniques Using observation schedules; Developing interview and questionnaire schedules; Mapping and annotating the uses of playground spaces; Taking and annotating photographs – sites, activities; Descriptive and reflective writing about playground experiences, spaces, activities.

16 Westminster Institute of Education Conclusion School playgrounds are microcosms of childrens personal geographies; The ways in which schools provide for and encourage childrens use of playgrounds indicates how they value children; Playground experiences are significant for children. Most studies of children in school playgrounds have focused on their social lives and looked to some extent at the impact of playgrounds as place and environments. There has been little that has examined the spatiality of playgrounds – the ways that the spaces influence their uses and childrens behaviours.

17 Westminster Institute of Education Selected References Armitage, M. (2001) The ins and outs of school playground play: childrens use of play spaces. In Bishop, J. & Curtis, M. (eds.) Play Today in the Primary Playground. Buckingham: Open University Press. Catling, S. (2005) Childrens Personal Geographies and the English Primary School Geography Curriculum. Childrens Geographies 3 (3). Davies, B. (1982) Life in the Classroom and playground. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Devine, D. (2003) Children, Power and Schooling. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books. Holt, L. (2007) Childrens sociospatial (re)production of disability within primary school playgrounds. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25 (6). Jones, R. (1995) The Child-School Interface. London: Cassell. Kellett, M. (2005) How to develop children as researchers. London: Paul Chapman. Pellegrini, A. (2005) Recess; Its role in education and development. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Powell, M. (2007) The hidden role of recess. Children, Youth and Environment 17 (4). Titman, W. (1994) Special Places, Special People. Winchester: Learning through Landscapes. Tranter, P. & Malone, K. (2004) Geographies of Environmental Learning: An exploration of childrens use of school grounds. Childrens Geographies 2 (1).

18 Westminster Institute of Education Playground spaces

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