Dr Shelly Newstead has worked in the playwork field for more than thirty years as a practitioner, trainer, author, editor, publisher and researcher, currently an Adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. She is the Managing Editor of International Journal of Playwork Practice and the Series Editor for the Routledge Advances in Playwork Research series. Shelly is also the President of the International Council for Children’s Play (ICCP) and the Managing Director of Common Threads, a social enterprise which develops playwork theory and practice internationally – www.commonthreads.org.uk
A childist approach to ‘playship’ – beyond participation and co-creation and towards emancipation
Playship is a state or condition that positions individuals with the skills and ability to create playful spaces by eliminating biases rooted in our nation’s social, political, economic, and educational structures. Whole new frameworks of understanding and lexicons have been created to examine how individual beliefs and biases can have a detrimental effect on others. Whilst by no means universally accepted, these frameworks of meaning with their own unique vocabularies provide a recognised means of challenging discrimination and inequality wherever possible.
This paper argues that another form of bias needs to be addressed in the 21st century in order for playship to be truly meaningful. It advances the argument that playful spaces created by adults – either for or with children – can never be truly equitable until issues of adultism and adult privilege have been challenged at an individual and institutional level. In the same way that our ethical and professional codes prohibit discrimination on the grounds of ability, gender, sexuality, race, class etc, all adults concerned with children’s play should also be required to address issues of personal and professional adultism. The presentation includes examples of what this might mean in practice and how all adults can develop their own awareness of adultist beliefs and behaviours when creating playful spaces.
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