Table of contents
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
The purpose of this essay is to critically analyze the pedagogical perspectives on play and creativity, by exploring the role of the adult in these areas. Initially, I will explore my own pedagogy by discussing now the influences of my personal and professional experiences have impacted this, whilst taking into consideration the values, attitudes, and principles which have shaped my practice. In this essay, I intend to explore the pedagogy of play and creativity and its place within the early years setting.
I am currently working in a private sector nursery in the city as a practitioner who sets out to ensure a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment where all children and parents are treated with respect and fairly and where they receive the highest possible standard of the service. The service offers a wide range of pedagogical opportunities which enable children to fully explore and experience all aspects of the settings teaching and learning mechanisms which will enable children to gain the most out of their learning from themselves and the staff. There is a wide range of stimulating experiences and outcomes including Forest Schools participation which originated from Scandinavia. We provide the children with the opportunity to create and engage in their own play through the use of natural resources and real tools through supervision and are privileged with beautiful, large, natural outdoor spaces throughout each age group.
Pedagogy can be defined in many different ways and one way in my own understanding is that it is the interactions between adults and children in their provision of learning strategies. According to Leach and Moon (2008) and Stephen (2010), the term pedagogy can form a wide definition in many different parts of the world. The way we implement our practice is key as we must ask ourselves ‘why do we do what we do?’ By reflecting and extending on our own practice through observing and implementing experiences, we are ensuring each child is receiving the best possible care and education and is in a learning environment which will enable them to grow and develop as a unique individual to the best of their ability. It is important to not only think about the learners within themselves but it is equally important to consider the learning experiences offered to the individual and group learners by the adult.
“Educators who can move between thinking about learners and thinking about how their learning experiences are shaped have a powerful approach to pedagogy.” Anning and Edwards (2010, p10).
Taking into consideration my pedagogical thoughts and ideas (Appendix 1, p…..) my definition of pedagogy is The way we shape our interactions with children and support their learning and development through the learning mechanisms offered. It is about ensuring the child is at the center and reflecting upon what we do and why we do it.
It is believed that pedagogy should have an emphasis on interactions and relationships, however, this isn’t always the case as these actions, described by Stephen (2012, p227-228) can be seen as a ‘tacit understanding’. I have, in my own practice been aware of my connections made with children and families and can consider how these will positively impact them. Part of recent legislation (Scottish Government, 2014, p31) states relationships are highly significant in child development.
Taking pedagogy into consideration has enabled me to think more about my practice and consider how to conduct myself in my profession and provide an attitude and display actions that can enable me to act appropriately to the individual needs of the children and assess and monitor my practice. I am able to focus more on my work ethic with the children and within the setting to provide positive outcomes for all (Girfec). In relation to pedagogy, I am continuously aiming to ensure that positive outcomes and experiences are being met. Examples of this can include; adult-interactions which involve shared thinking and open-ended questioning to extend the children’s thinking; having a curriculum knowledge and understanding of child development; to provide formative and effective feedback to children during activities and experiences. I also feel that it is key to giving children their voice and for us adults to listen. It is important to provide teacher-initiated group times and enlightening and useful play activities. As a practitioner, I ensure a warm and interactive relationship is being formed and provided the most efficient practice towards the children which is key. Looking into pedagogy has provided me with a broader reflection and understanding of the real meaning of the term and put it into practice.
Play contributes greatly to children’s learning and well-being in their everyday lives (Wood and Attfield, 2005, cited in Wood, 2007, p.309). Play supports children’s developmental stages cognitively, physically, socially, and emotionally (Goldstein, (2012, p.27)). He has also highlighted the negative effects due to lack or a reduced amount of play time given to children due to resources and lack of play opportunities. Play contributes a great deal to a child’s life on an everyday basis enabling them to frown and develop into a unique individual.
Play can be seen as a natural experience for children, however, this can be argued to be more of a social experience led by various interactions with adults either within the setting or in the home environment according to Wood, (2013, p.98). However, despite this dispute, Bruce (2011, p.93) observes and supports children in ensuring they reach the highest level of achievement to their ability.
Children are able to adapt their play as and when they feel they are ready and whether this is with the aid of an adult or not they should have the opportunity offered to gain such evident experiences and skills to help them through the learning life. It is important to stop and try and think about how a child may be processing their instructions and actions through their cognitive ability which can result in why they are performing the way and what they are within their play environment.
Vygotsky who was known for his scaffolding theory believed that children’s knowledge can be built upon and developed as he obtained a ‘socio-dramatic’ play as a crucial learning cycle (cited in Hedges, 2010, p.28 in Brooker and Edwards, 2010). Scaffolding within a play provides children with outcomes where interactions between children and adults are able to build connections with each other. Therefore, it is believed that the pedagogy of play is built up through the co-construction between adult and child (Rogers, 2011, p.39).
It has been said that play inspires creativity and imagination. Creativity has been described as a ‘process where ideas can be originally developed’ (Robinson, 2011, p.3). Additionally, creativity has been viewed as the shaping of existing knowledge to form new knowledge (Craft, 2002, p.33; Beetlestone, 1998, p.3 and Duffy, 2009, p.19). It is also considered that creativity enables emotions and feelings to be expressed freely. Play can be seen as most effective when it is child-led and child-initiated in their own experiences (Sian-Blatchford, Sylva, Muttok, Gilden, and Bell, 2002, p.12). In consideration of this, wood, (2013, p.141) believes that both interactions between children and adults are paramount. Adult interactions should be responsive to the children’s ideas and interests and the adults’ involvement should be advocated by the child. This can be evident along with Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development as it is clear that the interactions and involvement that an adult may have can take the child from requiring support to making achievements independently (Johnston and Nahmad-Williams, 2009, p.277).
Creativity is a fundamental attribute to enable adaptation and response in a fast-changing world (Barron, 1989; Guber, 1989; Henry and Walker, 1991). Creativity has become a growing area of interest within education and the wider society. Promoting and ensuring the development of creativity in education is in the foreground in the U.K with the influential ‘all our futures’ report from the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education (NACCCE, 1999). Craft, (2000, p.38) describes creativity as “all our intelligence working together” ensuring outcomes that are current and relevant are being provided. At the foundation of the creative process is the child’s determination to express themselves and their support network to act as an active thinkers. Lucas, (2001), influenced by Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983), believes that creativity involves all of our intelligence and profound knowledge working collaboratively together. Education Scotland (no date) also closely considers creativity as a way of thinking where we look at things that are familiar to ourselves closely and with an original and current perspective, study problems with an open mind, and use our ideas to search for new possibilities. Making connections is seen as central to learning and is part of many definitions of creativity (Lucas, 2001; NACCCE, 1999; Duffy, 1998; Beetlestone, 1998). This can be linked to Crafts ‘big c’ and ‘little c’.
Creativity has been divided into two forms ‘big c’ and ‘little c’ creativity. Craft, (2002, p.52) defines ‘big c’ as fresh modernism which have a great impact upon wider society, whereas, she defines ‘little c’ as everyday experiences being useful and relevant (craft, 2002, p.55). In relation to this, Beetlestone’s three-tier theory and Compton’s Continuum of creativity link in alongside the division of creativity. According to Beetlestone (1998), the three tires of creativity represent a continuance from being able to self–express to making new things, forming connections, and being able to problem solve (Johnston and Nahamd-Williams, p38-40). It is essential that children are able to gain these skills along with exploring their abilities and environment in order to flourish. The role of the adult should be to encourage the child to feel a sense of curiosity, and self-expression and promote independence for the child.
Cremin and Barnes (2010) believe there are six features of a creative pedagogical viewpoint. Alongside this, Robinson (2010) identifies three relevant tasks to take into consideration when teaching for creativity; encouraging, identifying creative strengths, and fostering which are highlighted in Cremin and Barnes (2010) features also. Cremin and Barnes (2010) focus on these six features; a learner-centered attitude; the use of questioning including open-ended questions; producing space, allowing time and freedom along with forming relationships; the take on of new and fresh teaching approaches; promoting engagement and modeling risks whilst enabling children to create their own risks (Robinson, 2011). As well as all of this, it is highlighted that there is a belief in ‘building on children’s self-esteem by Cremin and Barnes (2010) according to Robinson (2011). By ensuring this, a relaxed and trusting atmosphere within the environment must be present in order for the learner to develop further when they are at the center of their learning. As trusting and supportive relationships may be evident, there is information that creativity can be linked with collaborative and effective working opportunities (Dillan, Craft, Best, Rigby and SIMMs, 2007; Wood and Ashfield, 2008). It is also important to ask open-ended questions where there is an opportunity to problem solve and create possible thinking for children according to Robinson (2010). Asking questions, testing ideas, problem-solving, making connections, and using imagination and creativity (Duffy. 1998; Robinson, 2011) can ‘encourage deeper understanding and lateral thinking’ according to Cremin et al. (2006). It is essential for a learner to be nurtured in order for the individual to succeed and fulfill their abilities.
Reflecting upon my pedagogical approach through play (Appendix 2), it is clear that children create their own play at times and adult interaction can be limited. However, Staff offer play experiences based on each child’s needs and interests which are vital to the child’s learning journey. As a staff, it is crucial that I support the children which can be seen as part of Vygotsky’s scaffolding theory. Children should not be left to create their own play all the time as they can learn equally under adult supervision as Fleer, (2015, p.1801) agreed. In relation to this, I have considered in great length my role working with children, taking this into consideration, my role and interactions can be seen in (Appendix 3). Due to efficient and well-structured practices and strict guidelines, it is apparent that I am unable to always interact responsively and effectively with the children at times due to such a high demand for policies and procedures to follow. However, this is something that, after studying in great length pedagogy I am open and very keen to change and also encourage and prompt colleagues to participate in the same work ethic.
Within my setting, we understand play to be a schooling cycle where our interactions are significant and of great relevance. Recent legislation (Scottish Government, 2014, p.9) states that there are many interactions towards experiences that are offered and that are supported in children’s learning process (Scottish Government, 2014, p.51). Between staff within my setting, it was discussed that we value play to a great extent and it is central to a child’s learning, but alongside this, it is equally important to have the role of an adult model such experiences and life attributes. We provide learning through play and Wood, (2013, p.101) states that practitioners should be able to offer many valuable experiences in play through the use of pedagogical approaches.
In establishing and expanding on my professional and experienced practice it has been recognized that children’s play can be interrupted or sculpted unnecessarily, however, we must remember that although adult interaction is elementary, it is important to know when adult interaction is required. It has been agreed as a team that this is an area which is needing more time and work out into it, which may be the case of more self-reflection as a whole team. We will interact as equally as much as we stand back and observe. We must remember that children’s play and creativity can be formed through Vygotsky’s scaffolding which promotes support. As a setting, we think it is vital to listen to the children and aim to ensure that the experiences and activities we offer support the needs and interests of the children. Within the setting, we have taken pride in what we offer and an example of what we offer is Forest Schools which originated in Scandinavia. This has been a great success as it caters to all children of all age ranges in many different aspects.
Through the reflection process, as a staff team, we must question our practice more and ask ourselves why? what? and how? It is important that as a service, we look to promote the thinking of how we can maintain a pedagogical approach to support and work alongside play and creativity. For this to be successful we will focus more on our own values and principles, both as a team and as individuals. There must be more effective and relevant adult interaction. In reflection of myself as a practitioner, I am aware more since focusing on pedagogical perspectives, involving play and creativity, I must observe more and be prepared to interact and offer children the experiences they deserve. Adult interaction is present within my setting, however, there could always be more or less at times given each situation. A lot of adult interaction can be seen as common according to Samuelson and Carlson, (2008, p.623) who propose this is the case where most children’s learning vines from adult-controlled activities.
To conclude my findings, I have arrived at the conclusion of play and creativity are fundamentally linked with one another in the progression of children’s learning. From the perspective of one’s own pedagogy, it is crucial that as practitioners within a setting to think about our individual values and principles, not only within pedagogy but within our practice in reacting to children’s learning and development. It is evident that it is our values and principles which is at the center of why we do what we do. By taking all of the above into consideration whilst we push forward with our pedagogical outlook, it is important we look and focus on the adult interaction displayed as it is those which children’s learning and wellbeing are influenced.
Whilst looking in detail into the readings neighboring the pedagogy of play and creativity, my findings have been significant in evidencing that adult interactions play a large part in children’s learning, however, it is equally important to enable children to take control and shape their own relationships and interactions. We must carefully consider the pedagogical impacts more and offer more of a shared focus a d understanding in order to shale our pedagogy and develop play and creativity within our settings. How much adult interaction should be provided? Can too much adult interaction be effective or too little adult interaction be seen as being unresponsive to children’s needs?
- Beetlestone, F, (1998) Creative Children, Imaginative Teaching, Buckingham: McGraw-Hill Education.