What can the richly imagined, impressively adaptable fantasy world of children tell us about childhood, development, education, and even life itself? Paley presents a wise appreciation of the importance of play and enduring curiosity about the nature of childhood and the imagination.
Looking deeply into the "why" and "how come" of children at play, author and long-time preschool/kindergarten teacher Paley (A Child's Work) presents a series of contemplative conversations (with the reader, fellow educators and herself) that use her work with spontaneous and guided theatrical play to demonstrate the value of narrative to education, intellectual development, and mental well-being. While searching for deeper meaning in the business of child's play, Paley has developed a process for theatrically staging students' own stories, and "find[ing] the metaphor in the moment" in order to guide play toward satisfying closure; chronicling her classroom visits to share her process with other educators, her methods prove highly illustrative. Paley explains how people-and not just children-play in order to find characters who represent them, place emotional events in recognizable context, demonstrate their own usefulness, and create common memories for later discussion. Paley also cites interesting literary references throughout, and includes illuminating correspondence between educators. Parents and teachers alike will gain insight from Paley's contemplative, creative approach to play. (Apr.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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University of Chicago Press
April 15, 2010
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