Understanding the nature and value of play through the course of our lives, across cultures and communities.
Elizabeth’s fields of research and teaching include early childhood and primary education, focusing on the following themes: learning, pedagogy and curriculum; play and learning; policy analysis and critique (national and international); equity and diversity; teachers’ beliefs and practices; professionalism and critical perspectives in education. Within the theme of play, her research focuses on pedagogy and practice, the ways in which play has been captured in policy sites, and the construction of ‘educational play’. She draws on critical and post-structural theories to interrogate policy frameworks, and the ways in which teachers and children are positioned within policy discourses. A longstanding interest is children’s own play cultures, meanings and purposes, including how they exercise power and autonomy in different forms of play. Elizabeth is interested in respectful and ethical ways of researching and understanding play from children’s perspectives.
Because of international trends towards the expansion of early childhood and primary education, and continued interest in play and pedagogy, Elizabeth’s research aligns with colleagues in many different countries. She works with colleagues in New Zealand and Australia to develop socio-cultural approaches to researching and theorising contemporary issues such as professionalism, international policy-making and policy travel, and cultural understandings of play. She has worked with organisations such as the National Union of Teachers, and Education International to research issues of equity and diversity in policies and practices of teacher unions www.ei-ie.org.
Elizabeth teaches on the MA in Early Childhood Education, and EdD programmes. She supervises EdD and PhD students in the fields of early childhood and primary education; teacher’s thinking and classroom practice; policy analysis; equity issues. She has supervised doctoral students from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Brunei, Taiwan, as well as from the UK and Europe. This experience has enabled her to develop knowledge about different policy frameworks and understanding of contrasting cultural approaches to early childhood education and teacher development.
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