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How Play and Work Are Organized in a Kindergarten Classroom.

Using a structuralist ethnographic approach, this study describes the symbolic texts, stories, myths and rituals of one kindergarten classroom, especially as they influence children's play and work in that classroom. Analysis of the early morning work period, the morning meeting period and the activity period make the classroom culture explicit as to the work/play patterning, which indicates that work is the most important activity. Contextual messages giving more importance to work can be seen in the timing of work and play (work comes first), the attention drawn to it (it occurs when parents are observing), the space restrictions during work time that prevent play, the words teachers use when giving directions and commending accomplishments, the ambiguity of expectations communicated in the activity (play) period, the lack of teacher interaction during that period, and the structural cuing and interruptions that prevent in-depth play and focus children's priorities on completing work tasks.

The study has a number of important implications for reflective teachers. First, it suggests that teachers should be taking a good look at what work-biased context cues and interaction strategies are evident in their classrooms, even in those where the stated philosophy is derived from Froebel and Dewey. Teachers are often not aware of the messages about cultural patterns their strategies give because of their own embeddedness in the pervading American culture. Second, the study points out some questionable strategies that communicate less valuing of play and inhibit the occurrence of the "play to work flow" recommended by Dewey. By noting what these inhibiting strategies are, teachers can determine what different strategies might be used if they wish to foster the play/work connections that enhance developmentally appropriate learning.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bergen, Doris
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1995
Words:280
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