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Nothing without joy – balancing children’s rights, play pedagogies and early childhood curriculum in contemporary times

Winnett, Amanda (2021) Nothing without joy – balancing children’s rights, play pedagogies and early childhood curriculum in contemporary times. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Australian educational reforms that prioritise formalised learning and standardised testing have influenced the early childhood landscape in recent years. This has been problematic for the education of children aged 4 to 8 years in Western Australia. It is well established that children in these early childhood years benefit from play-based learning. Yet they are increasingly unlikely to experience play pedagogies within school contexts as a result of these reforms.

This research study examined how play pedagogies can be balanced with mandated curriculum and high-stakes testing obligations. Utilising an ethnographic case study approach, the study investigated how one school provides a respectful environment for children and their learning as well as the factors that enable it within a school context. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Educational Project (REEP) in which theory and praxis are bridged through a social constructivist approach, the school has taken lessons from the educators of Reggio Emilia to contextualise a Western Australian setting.

Findings revealed that the REEP inspired an innovative founder, a progressive philosophy and a culture of community to balance children’s needs with external responsibilities. Furthermore, the importance of early childhood professionals in key leadership roles is recognised as vital for advocating play pedagogies for children in schools.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
Supervisor(s): Lee-Hammond, Libby and Hesterman, Sandra
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/62571
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