The project is to set up RELOs or RELO-like materials using either practitioners or practitioner-students to video material and to get other students – perhaps at M-level – to comment on these. And of course I’ve committed the fault I tell dissertation students to avoid: I’ve gone for method rather than question.
So what is the question? The impetus to research play comes from working in the 90s at Grandpont Nursery School, and in particular from the Action Research project I did with the Open University on adult interaction in Free-Flow Play, which helped prepare staff (including me) for and debrief after a day’s In-service training with Tina Bruce. It became apparent to me then that some areas of children’s activity can be less of a locus for adult interaction than others, with all sorts of reasons given and motives explored and unexplored, and I returned to this question when undertaking a GEST-funded course in the 90s around curriculum co-ordination: my first protracted experience of Oxford Brookes University!
The question seemed settled enough to teach from Bruce’s theory both at Nursery School and in ITT. It re-emerged as part of the Westminster Institute Research and Knowledge Transfer Group Learning in the Early Years at which Julie Fisher threw out the challenge If play is so important, why is nobody researching it? Did Tina Bruce answer all the questions in 1991?
Involvement with ESCalate is intended in the next academic year, to bring together some practitioners and researchers to look again at this in the light of new curriculum documentation from the government, expected any day.