Radical Pedagogy

Radical Pedagogy (2017)

Volume 14 Issue 2

ISSN: 1524-6345

Pedagogy of Play: A Holistic Project of Personal and Social Liberation



Nicole Rangel

Graduate School of Education

University of California, Berkeley, USA

E-mail: nicolerangel@berkeley.edu




Play is a popular teaching practice used in early childhood education

due to its well-known effects on cognitive and social development. Although human development is a life-long process, this paper argues that post-childhood education fails to utilize the inherent power of what the author calls transformative play—a praxis that is guided by an awoken imagination and that facilitates the innovation and connection needed in realizing a more just world. This failure is due, in part, to the dominance of Western conceptions of play that emphasize competition rather than connection, and promote conquest instead of co-creation. In this theoretical paper, play is discussed not merely as activity, but as ideology. This discussion is animated through an analysis of the ideological and material implications of finite/agonistic play versus transformative play, particularly in the realm of education. A pedagogy of play extends critical and holistic approaches to education by centering transformative play, which requires respect for the other, connecting mind, body, and spirit, as well as an openness to liberatory possibilities for personal and social transformation.

Keywords: holistic education, critical education, play studies, social

                  justice, healing


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