Exploring the pedagogic culture of creative play in early childhood education

Arnott, Lorna and Duncan, Pauline (2019) Exploring the pedagogic culture of creative play in early childhood education. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 17 (4). pp. 309-328. ISSN 1476-718X (https://doi.org/10.1177/1476718X19867370)

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We present a conceptual analysis, grounded in empirical data, of how young children's creative play is framed by the 'pedagogic culture' within which the child is playing. Drawing on data from a research study with the broad aim of documenting children's creative play in Western play-based early childhood education, we gathered exploratory qualitative observations, self-initiated iPad video diaries and researcher-led activities to describe children's creative play. We adapted the Analysing Children's Creative Thinking Framework as a starting point for coding and the analyses focused on three contextual cues within the pedagogic culture – space, interpersonal collaborations and materials. We ground our discussion in a contextualist theoretical frame to demonstrate that in isolation, each contextual cue presents a degree of framing to children's creative play. When analysed as a synergy of contextual cues, however, we begin to see that the dynamic make-up of each of the contexts, and the interplay among them, create a 'pedagogic culture' that transforms children's creative play. We present 'stories' of each pedagogic culture that we observed, to describe how children's creative play manifested within each culture.