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ERIC Number: ED406005
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Apr
Pages: 12
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Educational Opportunities that Lie in Self-Directed Age-Mixed Play among Children and Adolescents.
Feldman, Jay
The goal of this study was to describe the potential educational opportunities that lie in self-directed age-mixed interactions among children and adolescents. A qualitative analysis was used to generate ideas about goals and benefits of such interactions. The setting for the study was Sudbury Valley School (Massachusetts), a private school with an age-mixed environment. The reactive participation method was used in observing children over a 3-year period and collecting 375 vignettes of age-mixed interactions. Vignettes were organized by activity, age difference, age group classification, individual, and distinct activity aspects. Patterns in each activity were identified and a written summary generated. The main findings emerging from the analysis were: (1) when children asked older children for help, help was usually given; (2) when older children offered unsolicited help, help was often rejected; (3) children modified their mutual activities to include younger ones while also making the activity challenging for themselves; (4) children responded positively to younger children's requests for help; (5) children more often praised and supported than discouraged younger children; (6) children talked to each other about how to treat younger children; (7) there were few instances of children bullying younger children; (8) some children regularly associated with older or younger friends and companions; and (9) some children had a cross-age friend despite regularly associating with same-age peers. The two main ideas generated by this study were that under conditions of free choice, children's learning is implicit; their explicit goal is to have fun. Also, under free choice conditions, children assert responsibility for younger children. (Contains eight references.) (KDFB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A