Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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2.1 Reading: football pitches and Barbie dolls

Next, you will read an extract from a research study of a different playground that goes a bit deeper into some of the issues that Daniel and Isla mentioned, such as what girls and boys play, sadness and loneliness at playtime, and what children perceive as the risks of the playground space.

Activity 4 Social play, physical activity play, risk and gender

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Now read a short extract from the article ‘Football pitches and Barbie dolls: young children’s perceptions of their school playground’ by Gemma Pearce and Richard P. Bailey:

Football pitches and Barbie dolls [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

These two researchers went into an inner city primary school to ask children what they thought about their school playground and playtimes. They asked children to talk about what they do during playtimes, and to talk about their positive and negative experiences of the playground. The researchers also asked children to draw pictures of what they do in their playground.

This reading has four themes which the research identified in children’s comments and drawings: social play, physical activity play, risk, and gender.

As you read the research extract, notice how the researchers interview the children in a very informal and conversational way, and how the children’s ideas and experiences are presented very clearly. Following BERA guidelines, the children are anonymous, identified only by the first letter of their names, or simply as ‘Year 3 boy’ or ‘Year 2 girl’. The school and the city are not identified.

As you read, make some notes about the themes. Does any of these chime with your own experiences of the school playground, as a child or for children that you know? Does it reflect what you heard Isla and Daniel talk about in their interview?

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In the following sections, there will be extracts from this article under themed headings.

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