Playing in the zone : a Vygotskian interpretation of young children's television-inspired play and talk : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Masters Degree of Education at Massey University
Children's 'representational play' has been extensively acknowledged as contributing to early learning and development. This qualitative case study examined a specialised form of representational play prompted by children's television watching. Participants involved children over the age of 3 years attending a community based childcare centre in a city in New Zealand. The study was carried out over a period of 2 weeks and employed 'naturalistic, observational' and 'stimulated recall' techniques during data collection. Children's 'television play' and talk became both the focus of the investigation and the unit of analysis. The original focus of Superhero play was extended to include other forms of television play that emerged as dominant themes within the studied centre. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory of learning was used as a theoretical tool for analysis with special attention given to Vygotsky's concepts of 'intersubjectivity' and 'cultural tools.' Intersubjectivity was defined and discussed in relation to children's appropriation of 'cultural tools' during representational play. A Vygotskian focus necessitated embedding these concepts within Vygotsky's wider theory of learning and development. Vygotsky's concept of the 'zone-of-proximal development' therefore was also considered in regard to 'television related play and talk'. Nelson's (1986) concept of 'scripts' was examined as Vygotsky viewed language as a primary 'mediating tool' that significantly contributed to children's intersubjective understandings. This study concluded that 'Superhero play' and other forms of television play are the outcome of children's appropriation of sociocultural influences. The study's conclusion supported Vygotsky's theory of development that sees learning as occurring as the result of children's 'internalization' and 'appropriation of cultural tools'.