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Article Title

Child's play? The perils of modern childhood research

Abstract

Together with four other partners, the National Library of Australia (NLA) is participating in a four-year project, called 'Childhood, Tradition and Change: A national study of the historical and contemporary practices and significance of Australian children's playlore', which is investigating notions of continuity and change in children's playlore. Funded to do fieldwork in 30 schools around Australia until 2010, the research is being conducted by the NLA and Melbourne, Deakin and Curtin Universities and Museum Victoria. In investigating notions of continuity and change in children's playlore, the researchers want in particular to compare and contrast today's playground activities with some significant research carried out in the 1950s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Conducting research into children's behaviour in today's Australia is not an easy task. At best, it is hindered by contradictory images of childhood and attitudes towards children. At its worst, there seems to be a tendency to regard as a paedophile any researcher who wants to observe children in their natural surroundings. Today, children's traditional play, their skipping and hand-clapping games, marbles, counting-out rituals, running and chasing, take place mainly in the primary school playground. Children's play is their secret weapon against the adult world, which is why educators should be preserving the culture of primary school playgrounds. [Author abstract, ed]

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