Phrases as play objects: Reflections on Vivian Paley and the Story Pirates (Part 1)

Like Meryl Alper in this piece from her blog, https://merylalper.com/2011/12/17/phrases-as-play-objects/, I too, like the way that Vivian Paley places the children, and their personal and shared stories, at the centre of their learning. After hearing Vivian Paley speak at a conference in Brisbane, Australia, in the early 1990’s I began to use her model of shared storytelling/storyacting, and story playing (with each other, and objects) to underpin my early education program. I quickly came to realise that allowing children to create their own stories (and there are many ways they can do this) established a holistic underpinning for individual and shared learning. As Meryl Alper says, “community building/destruction/re-building and socialization… underscored by sensitivity to each child’s developmental and cognitive needs.”

Meryl Alper

Who am I?  And what is this “I” capable of?

Who are WE?  And what is this “WE” capable of?

The process by which a child becomes conscious of her or himself and the limits on what she or he can do is deeply tied to that child’s growing understanding of where he or she stands within a social context, as well as what that child can or cannot accomplish in the presence or absence of other people.  For example, a three year-old can build a block tower, and can also knock it down when she wants to.  A three year-old and a four year-old can build a block tower together, and while the three year-old can knock it down when she wants to, that action might incite the opposite emotion in her play partner.  This development is culturally specific, heavily influenced by the value placed on individualistic or collectivistic…

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