UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reconsideration of play within the domain of education McPherson, Naomi Charmain


In this thesis the concept of play is examined to determine and characterise what is the concepts function and what people can mean when they talk about play. This is pursued in an attempt to clarify the concept of play and to argue that play has an important part in pedagogy as an educationally valuable activity. It is argued that senses of play such as voluntariness, spontaneity, and intrinsic motivation, given in example by other authors are inadequate senses of play for education. Further, it is argued that distinctions which contrast play to the seriousness of work and include education as a category of play are also incorrect. The thesis also points out that researchers have used play as a research vehicle to examine behaviours and that this vehicular sense does not justify claims of play being an essential function of the behaviour. However, it is argued that even without having an empirical base for justification of play within schools through delineation of the two senses of play within this thesis play is justifiably claimed to be a heuristic activity and therefore rightly at home in the bedrock thinking of children. Play it is argued is an activity through which we explore and experiment with our environment and our faculties. Play this thesis claims is the child's praxis upon the world. Play in infanthood and childhood is argued to give us our most unadulterated evidence of how we use play to make sense of our world. It is in these life stages that we see the primordial contribution of play in human development and following logically, in our education. It is argued that play's contribution to individuals comes through our ability, in play, to structure and make sense out of the world. As schools are planned as institutions in which we come to know about the world, and as play lays foundations for thinking through exploration, discovery, and coming to know, it seems reasonable that play be welcomed in schooling. Play it is argued licenses us to postulate and is at home within the domain of education.

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