Can I Go and Play Now?: Rethinking the Early Years

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SAGE Publications, Apr 28, 2018 - Education - 160 pages
In this book, Greg Bottrill explores how he ensures that, in his Early Years setting, continuous provision enables children. He shares his Early Years pedagogy through the '3Ms' and explains how to apply these in the classroom. Greg also explores the definition of play – what it is and what it isn’t – and the challenging role of the Early Years teacher.

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As educators we are in constant search for inspiration and guidance in the complex process of interaction with children. We are keen observers and participants of play that children are so effortfully spark every day. We also want to capture this experience and procreate it with educational goals in mind. Greg Bottrill introduces the magic and mystery of play in an appealing to the educators’ way. The language of familiar and so desirable concepts skilfully deceives the readers about the ‘in between the lines’ his own masculine desire for power, dominance and control that unfortunately is still representative of the culture of UK Education. Greg asks the reader to question themselves what generation of children they want to nurture; therefore, right from the begging asking to determine the directions of nurturing – something completely opposite to what he seem to promote on the surface – following children!
He is inviting practitioners to reflect on their past and introduce in to their practice the attitude of ‘what was good to us [e.g. outdoors] is good enough for them’ in terms of play. In the safety of familiarity, the reader can easily miss the push towards the ignorance of the new and different in children who are born into the completely different world to the adults. Greg Bottrill is an actual magician who throughout the book managing to discuss his own unconscious desire to impose the ‘better than the curriculum’ system that is so powerful that it can open minds of adults to play. If you were to look through this façade, what is actually happening in this book is and imposition of another system, but this time discussed with the labels that practitioners resonate with!
Greg Bottrill is proposing to fit Ms into play and to reduce complexity of play into a simple set of labels. In other words inviting to control the play by deceiving children that what they are doing is not pre-determined by the adult mind. Also it is misleading for the practitioners as they are told that with Bottrill’s approach they are not exercising power but allowing children to be creative. However, the reality is if you are looking for something you pre-planned to find you are exercising power of selection and right fit as opposed to engaging in a real process. The system of Ms are just another method of control that is helping adults to deceive themselves that they are truly engaged with children. Furthermore, Bottrill associates the acceptance with belonging, which leads to his implicit idea that magic for children is in belonging to adults, following adults who are good at tricking children into the idea that they can do things, that they are capable.
The practitioners who are reading this book are full of hope that it will give them a clear guidance to the complexity of play in the context of education. What Greg offers is a deceitful rebranding of control with the attractive labels of ‘magic’ and ‘mystery’. If you read into Greg’s language you can notice subtle build-up of the undercurrent that is uncomfortable, patronising and contradicting to the essence of free play. In fact if you look into the minority of negative reviews on Amazon, you will notice that some people have recognised this, but have been heavily opposed by the majority which is charmed by the Bottrill’s narrative.
What is missing in this book is selfless invitation to the practitioners NOT to apply labels to play, but let it just happen; to exercise the unconditional trust and respect for children’s choices and abilities by following them with adult mind which open and not pre-determined; to recognise that adults and children belong to different eras of play and stop applying systems from the past to what is an emergent process. In summary, this book is imposing another system which is deceitfully presented as freedom but painfully controlling.

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About the author (2018)

Greg Bottrill is an experienced Early Years practitioner who leads a large Foundation Unit in Devon and also supports other schools within the county in developing their EY practice. Committed to changing perceptions of Early Years, he is dedicated to bringing about a new pedagogy that puts the child at the centre of the education Universe.

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