In 1986, the Harvard Educational Review
published Vivian Gussin Paley’s article “On Listening to What the Children Say,” which detailed the beginnings of her career as a teacher and author. The article described Paley’s methods of tape-recording and analyzing her students’ daily engagement in the “the three Fs: fantasy, fairness, and friendship.” Her careful analysis provided insight into how children understand the world through storytelling and imaginative play. Now, more than twenty years later, Paley’s new essay, “Goldilocks and Her Sister: An Anecdotal Guide to the Doll Corner,” revisits similar themes while reaching beyond the classroom into more public and private spaces (the post office or a living room) to show how children’s imaginative play strengthens relationships and creates opportunities for social and cognitive development. We have included both essays in this issue in order to highlight the ways in which children, regardless of context, can be engaged in the world of imagination as a form of both pedagogy and play. These companion articles extend our understanding of children’s storytelling, imaginative play, and intimacy as means of promoting learning both inside and outside of classroom settings.
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Vivian Gussin Paley
has worked as a preschool and kindergarten teacher for more than thirty-seven years, primarily in the University of Chicago’s Laboratory Schools. Paley is the author of twelve books that focus on young children’s imaginative play and their lives in the classroom. Her books include White Teacher
(1980), Wally’s Stories
(1981), Boys and Girls: Superheroes in the Doll Corner
(1984), You Can’t Say You Can’t Play
(1992), The Kindness of Children
(1999), and, most recently, A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play
(2004). She is a recipient of the MacArthur Award, the National Council of Teachers of English 2004 Outstanding Educators in the English Language Arts Award, and an American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement.