Finding  a  place  for  Froebel's  theories:  Early  years  practitioners'  understanding  and  enactment  of  learning  through  play

Sue Smedley, Kate Hoskins

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The   Froebel   Trust   funded   study   aims   to   investigate   early   years   practitioners'   understanding   and   enactment   of   learning   through   play,   in   relation   to   Froebelian   principles   and   in   resistance   to   statutory   pressures   to   follow   a   more   regulatory   and   didactic  approach.  A  context  is  provided  relating  to  the  contemporary  relevance  of  Froebel's  ideas  (Bruce,  2012,  Tovey,  2013),   and  the  limitations  of  government  demands  (Osgood,2006,  2010,  Taggart  (2011),  goal-­‐oriented  discourses  (Urban,  2008)  and   the  'schoolification'  of  the  early  years  (Van  Laere  et  al,  2012,  p.  527).  The  study  is  underpinned  by  theories  of  identity  and   language  (Bakhtin,  1986,  Hollway,  1989,  Vygotsky,  1978)  and  by  Britzman's  (2003)  psychoanalytic  approach.  This  study  takes   a  dialogic  perspective  on  the  construction  of  meaning  (Vygotsky,  1978,  Britzman,  2003)  and  analyses  interview  data  from  36   early   years   practitioners   using   a   qualitative   methodology   with   semi-­‐structured   interviews   and   open-­‐ended   questions.   The   research   complies   with   ethical   protocols   (BERA,   2011,   University   of   Roehampton,   2011).   Procedures   followed   include   obtaining  informed  consent,  respecting  confidentiality  and  anonymity:  use  of  pseudonyms,  settings  not  named.  Audio-­‐files   and  transcripts  were  stored  with  password-­‐protection.  The  data  shed  light  on  the  practitioners'  priorities,  such  as  play  and   children's  autonomy.  The  study  shows  that  many  practitioners  do  not  readily  theorise  their  practice  as  Froebelian  and  they   experience  difficulties  in  articulating  a  theoretical  basis  to  explain  their  practice  in  general.  Finding  a  place  for  Froebel's      theories  would  support  early  years  practitioners  as  articulate  advocates  for  quality  ECE.  Changes  in  policy  and  training  are   needed  to  achieve  this.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventEuropean Early Childhood Education Association (EECERA) Conference, 2017 -
Duration: 30 Aug 20171 Sept 2017


ConferenceEuropean Early Childhood Education Association (EECERA) Conference, 2017

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