Stories of play in a grade four and five classroom: a narrative inquiry

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MacKay, Cameron
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This narrative inquiry examines the value of play in upper-elementary schooling. It is guided by the research puzzle, “What does play look like in a grades four and five classroom and what potential might it hold?” The narrative inquiry takes place in the context of the narrative inquirer’s own grades four and five classroom over an 8-week period. Through a postmodern, social constructivist lens, the play stories of several students are told and critically reflected upon. Field texts are used to construct a narrative of play and pose pedagogical questions and perspectives throughout. The narrative inquirer concludes that play cannot be recognised by particular pursuits but by the shared qualities of those pursuits. In this research window, play is observed to be social, busy, unpredictable, emotionally charged, in need of responsive teachers, and able to provide children with autonomy. It is argued that play belongs in the upper-elementary classroom not just for the academic, social, and emotional benefits but, drawing on the work of Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (1999 & 2005) because it is a democratic and ethical approach.
Play, Inquiry, Education, Narrative inquiry, Social constructivism