Cultures of Play: Actors, Affordances and Arenas

Play is an internationally established mode of learning for young children. Since Plato, play has been recognised as a pedagogical tool and we know from decades of research and from theorists like Vygotsky, that play is a leading activity and a forward movement (Edwards 2017). Importantly, play is now recognised as a right for children and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has placed great importance on play for children’s development. It has also become valued as a pedagogic means to support children’s wellbeing in a world where daily life has been disrupted by COVID, climate change and population movement. Play allows children choice and agency and is hugely motivational.

Yet, while we know of these strong links between play and learning, challenges emerge when we consider what play should look like, how it is embodied, enacted and planned for across settings, contexts and countries. The discourse around play continues because play cannot be framed by a measurable definition. There are so many different ideologies and philosophies in early childhood education that offer diverse lenses and approaches to play that those in practice often find the process confusing or contradictory. Early years play and play-pedagogy is also susceptible to the pressures of Primary curricula reduced to ‘basics’, especially when linked to pressures to assess and measure. The conference theme therefore is located amongst ideas of what is meant by play based pedagogy in an evolving world.

This conference seeks to foreground play as an opportunity for dialogue to continue to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of play in early childhood education. The Conference aim is to explore research on approaches to play in its broadest sense. We are interested in cultures of play internationally; its value, importance, the benefits and barriers. In particular, we wish to focus on:
– who is involved in play episodes and how – the actors;
– what learning opportunities, possibilities and openings can be created in play – the affordances;
– and where play spaces and places occur and are accessed, both virtual and real – the arenas.

At EECERA 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland we seek to provide a forum foregrounding play for critical reflection and dialogue through exploring these questions:

  1. In what ways do cultures shape play in early childhood across time and space?

  2. How is play sculpted by its actors, affordances and arenas?

  3. In light of the recent global pandemic and other disruptions to daily life, how does play feature in research, teaching and experience?

Conference Strands

  • Values and Value Education
  • Culture, Community and Society
  • ECEC Contexts, Transition and Practices
  • Play and Learning
  • Supporting Families in Early Years Settings
  • Innovative / Alternative Approaches
  • Parent Partnership in Early Years Settings
  • Professionalism and Pedagogues / Educators Role
  • National Curricula in ECEC
  • Paradigms, Theories and Methodologies for Working with Young Children
  • National and International Research in ECEC
  • The Present and the Future of Child-centred Practice
  • The Child and Local Community
  • Quality Early Childhood Education
  • The Relationship of Home Learning Environment and Local Community
  • Children’s Policy
  • The Role of Families’ Cultural and Social Traditions