Events of potential learning: how preschoolers produce curriculum at the computer during free play periods
The Swedish preschool curriculum emphasizes children’s learning through play. This means that children’s learning in everyday practice is accomplished through a complex mixture of teacher-led activities and activities the children themselves initiate. When learning is viewed as situated and constituted through social interaction (Lave & Wenger, 1991), almost all social events have learning potential. Consequently, from an educational and a curriculum point of view it is important to raise the question of how children’s learning can be made visible, and determine what kind of learning children’s own initiated (play) activities imply. The focus of the paper is on children’s (aged 3-5 years) “communities of practice” at the computer during “free play” period in two various Swedish preschools settings. Events of peer interaction are analyzed in detail to illustrate what kind of learning activities are going on at the computer, and to discuss these events of potential learning in relation to the curriculum goals and the educational practice. From a curriculum point of view, the analyses show that the children’s activities at the computer involve a variety of events that might provides for learning that can be viewed as goal-oriented. From the children’s point of view, the project of socialization seems to be the most prominent goal. A crucial point for educational success, however, is to understand not only what the object of learning is, rather what motivates children’s play apprenticeship in their own “communities of practice”.
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