“A Brooklyn Playworld, photo by Rachel Kahn”
Beth Ferholt, Jennifer Colon, Doug Elsass, Kori Goldberg, Mary Ann Laborda, Portia Rose, Susanna Brock, Luciano Cohen, Jason Leinwand, Tony the Monkey, Rosco, and Dr. Smartypants
Beht Ferholt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Art Education at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and an affiliated faculty member in the Ph.D. Program in Urban Education at The Graduate Center, CUNY and Preschool Education Research Group at the School of Communication and Education, Jönköping University. She studies playworlds: a form of adult-child joint play and a way of being, in which play is combined with art or science. Dr. Ferholt is a founding member of the International Playworld Network and The Playworld of Creative Research. Her research focuses on play, imagination, creativity, perezhivanie, early childhood education and care, and methods for the study of all of these.
Jennifer Colon, Doug Elsass, Kori Goldberg, Mary Ann Laborda, Portia Rose, and Rosco teach in early childhood classrooms at The Brooklyn New School, P.S. 146. The Brooklyn New School has been studying and creating playworlds for one decade.
Artist Susanna Brock and members of Puppetry in Practice — Luciano Cohen, Jason Leinwand, Tony the Monkey, and Dr. Smartypants — have assisted the teachers and children in their playworld work over the past seven years.
Playworlds are a form of adult-child joint play and a way of being, in which play is combined with art or science. The term comes from the creative pedagogy of play, a preschool pedagogy designed by the Swedish scholar, Gunilla Lindqvist, in the 1990’s. Today playworlds are popular in Sweden, developed and in use in Finland, and also take place in Japan and Serbia. Playworlds are designed to include all who wish to join and they support all participants in feeling welcomed, valued, cared for, and caring. They are also a powerful tool for studying development through participant design research. In this keynote we, the community of playworld participants in Brooklyn, will describe how we have sustained and grown our playworld work in a public elementary school in one of the few nations that does not even claim to support the child’s right to play. We will describe a decade of building playworlds, from our inspiration in Sweden through to this point in the pandemic in New York City, and answer questions – from our perspectives as people, puppets, children, adults, dogs, monkeys, researchers, teachers, and artists — about our past and ongoing challenges and creations. (For more information about the international playworld work of which our work is a part, see: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/cultural-historical-approaches-childrens-learning-and-development/research/adult-child-joint-imaginative-playworlds.)
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