Within this project, the playground design was being imagined as an ongoing material-discursive practice between human and nonhuman actants. The collaborators wanted to trouble the idea that playgrounds are exclusively for humans.
As part of the work, the collaborators wished to think critically about some of the concepts and suppositions of early childhood education and play that are often taken for granted. One of them was the dominant discourse of developmentalism that insists all children move through specific stages at similar ages. Another came up rather unexpectedly…
Despite entering the project with what we thought were minds open to thinking differently and to experimenting, we found that what poked their faces right away were… trikes. Will we have a trike loop? Can we not have trike loop? How COULD we not have a trike loop?
We realized that not only did we consider trikes as an absolute staple of playgrounds, but that when we started teasing that thought apart, feelings started coming out. There was resentment, deep affect, fears even. So all of us who participated in the project were invited to partake in a speculative writing experiment. We turned to speculative fabulation as a way to expose some of our own histories and assumptions around these playground staples, writing letters to a bike that, in our collective imaginations, has been expelled behind a playground fence.
Initially written by hand, the letters were shared by reading out loud to a group of educators, and edited and rewritten following collective discussions. We experimented with the practice of hand-writing pedagogical pieces in an attempt to slow down and to “while” (Jardine, 2008) with ideas; and with the practice of ‘public’ reading – to remind us that education is always a collective project. Finally, we wondered:
How might the practice of writing letters allow us to think of teaching as a process that is unfinished and open?
Jardine (2008, February). On the while of things. Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies.