RESEARCH PROJECT

Rethinking relationships
with and on playgrounds

In a city that’s part of so-called Canada’s ‘chemical valley’, a group of early childhood educators, researches and pedagogists are working to reimagine what playgrounds do in early childhood education settings, and how might these outdoor play-focused spaces connect to educational philosophies of today and challenges of tomorrow.

Stemming from the belief that playgrounds can do MORE than ‘develop’ faster, better, stronger neoliberal subjects, but instead contribute to the making of different worlds, the project looks closely at the connection of design and pedagogy.

How do we deeply and meaningfully intertwine pedagogical work and design? What might playgrounds look, feel and work like if the considerations behind their design and purpose are not driven by developmental psychology alone? How might we rethink playground design beyond the centrality of a developing human?


TIMELINE

Phase I of the project (2020-2021) included place-based pedagogical work with educators, children and families at a childcare centre in a small city in Southwestern Ontario.

Based on the data collected during the initial stage, a design of a preschool playground for the Centre was developed. The construction of the playground is currently ongoing (as of Nov 2021).

Phase II of the project will include pedagogical and ethnographic work on the completed play ground, to be combined with a post-occupancy evaluation review of the new playground, to be carried out between November 2021 and May 2022.