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What's in a Meaning? Defining Play

by Laura Friedman
September/October 2011
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/whats-in-a-meaning-defining-play/5020196/

This article was prompted by a discussion that took place at the sixth Hawkins Centers of Learning gathering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in August of 2008. Our group was attempting to define play. As a group, we had many times considered David Hawkins’ thoughts about ‘Messing About.’ Mary Lynch and Lauren Foster Shaffer, members of the group who are mentor teachers at Boulder Journey School, a learning community that serves children and adults through their on-site master’s degree program, provoked the group to think about play from both child and adult perspectives. The ‘letting go’ that is required for an adult to inquire without thought of external judgment is difficult " risky " and yet is crucial to learning and understanding. So, while I intentionally focus on play in early childhood in this article, I am acutely aware that ‘messing about’ is a critical phase beyond the early years: it is an entry point in an ideally interactive and supported process (Hawkins, 2002). During the spring of 2010, Lesley University sponsored an exciting ‘Messing About’ Pre-Institute day which opened their annual Reggio-Inspired Conference, a day for adults. A brief video documenting this event can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz8qgPPmWas&feature=player_embedded. More ...

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