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The five debates: Simplifying the contemporary play literature

Yeshe J. Colliver

This article reviews the literature on the play-based curriculum, which is characterised by tension and debate. It aims to present the literature in a simplified and accessible way, suggesting it can be helpful to see it as falling into five debates over: (1) how much children learn through play; (2) how play might allow power differences; (3) how the preoccupation with play may be just a Western one; (4) how play advocacy assumes all children are the same; and (5) if the stakeholders traditionally most vocal in early childhood education policy are the most appropriate decision makers. Understanding the literature may allow teachers to view play in more useful ways—and to recognise that their experiences may make a valuable contribution to the debate.

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