The Importance of Fantasy, Fairness, and Friendship in Children’s Play
An Interview with Vivian Gussin Paley
Vivian Gussin Paley is a teacher, writer, lecturer, and advocate for the importance of play for young children. Author of a dozen books about children learning through play, she has received numerous honors and awards including an Erickson Institute Award for Service to Children, a MacArthur Foundation Fellows award, and a John Dewey Society’s Outstanding Achievement Award. Paley taught early-childhood classes for thirty-seven years—chiefly at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools—and in her books she describes and reflects on her own learning experiences shared with thousands of students. Her writings focus primarily on three major areas of concern she sees in children: fantasy, friendship, and fairness. Paley learned early the value of observing and listening to children, recording and studying what they said and did in her classroom, and using what she discovered to improve her teaching and children’s lives. In all of this, Paley has been a gatherer and teller of stories, and she remains so in this interview and in her continuing work as a sought-after speaker and consultant. Her latest book, forthcoming in 2010, is The Boy on the Beach: Building Community through Play.