ERIC Number: ED478468
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
The Rewards and Restrictions of Recess: Reflections on Being a Playground Volunteer.
O'Brien, Leigh M.
Based on the experiences of a participant observer (weekly playground volunteer) over the course of one school year, this paper recounts the experiences of first through third graders during recess and discusses the importance of outdoor play for providing children an opportunity to speak and act unfettered by adult expectations, thereby promoting a peer culture defining itself in opposition to official school structures. The narrative, viewed as a means of bearing witness to perceived or experienced injustices, follows a diary format and discusses issues related to children's outdoor play, including the types of games children play and their social interactions, concerns about control and liability masquerading as concerns for children's safety, the need to develop environmental values, the meaning of teachers' absence during recess, and restrictions on rough and tumble play. Responses during interviews with a convenience sample of children revealed that the children loved the openness and social dimension of playground activities but did not like being teased or restricted. Children's attempts to resist being disciplined and being controlled are interpreted not as an attempt to escape from oppression, but rather as ways to provide opportunities to remake one self. Benefits of recess for children's sense of agency, self expression, and problem solving are described. The paper emphasizes the need to provide high-quality recess experiences and the role of societal values in creating a restrictive play environment, thereby placing the question of recess within the larger context of questions regarding the purpose of education and the role of adults in children's education. (Contains 32 references.) (KB)
Descriptors: Adult Child Relationship, Childhood Attitudes, Childhood Needs, Discipline, Elementary Education, Elementary School Students, Outdoor Activities, Participant Observation, Personal Narratives, Physical Development, Playground Activities, Power Structure, Recess Breaks, School Role, Social Development, Teacher Role, Values Education
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Administrators; Practitioners; Teachers
Authoring Institution: N/A