Highly Commended 2012
Child's Play is an informational video that was created in 2012 by the junior infant teacher Deirdre Shelly in Ireland.
The Irish Education System has seen significant change in the area of early childhood education in recent years. The last two decades have seen significant development in policy and legislation in relation to the education of children. The National Primary School Curriculum states that "as a learning medium, play is crucial in junior classes" (Government of Ireland, 1999). Furthermore, they stress the role the teacher must play if students are to receive maximum benefit from playful activities.
The video was intended as both a stand-alone resource for parents to view at home, or a teaching guide to assist teachers in informing parents about play. The video is not school specific however, and has been used by other schools and educators to demonstrate the importance of play as a teaching and learning method to parents and colleagues. As the school year progresses, teachers meet with parents to discuss their child's development and progress. At these meetings, parents are encouraged to play with their child at home and a copy of the video is made available to parents to watch for ideas and suggestions.
What the judges said
"The video maker has taken a bit of educational theory and presented it in a clear and succinct way. She clearly has her intended audience in mind and hits just the right level for them. It is a superb piece of work. Like all masterpieces it essentially is a very simple but wonderfully executed idea. It is a good example of taking a simple topic and explaining it simply in a very professionally executed manner.
The idea at the heart of this product is very good and it is an excellent means to get across the key elements of why play is so important in the early years of education. The way in which the subject is presented and the clear pedagogical theory which underpins the importance of play and education is well explained to the target group (Parents). The production will have the desired impact of gaining support for the continuation of this methodology. The general idea of communicating through the video medium about a complex matter such as pedagogical practice is good. The video does give you a good impression of how the teaching method is carried out in practice, the moving images helps a lot with that."
Deirdre Shelly about the creation of Child's Play
"As a teacher in an early childhood educational context, this development has had a significant impact on my classroom practices and teaching methods. In recent years, I explored different methods of teaching in order to identify effective, engaging and inclusive practices in my class. However, in order to fully embrace my play initiative, I felt I needed parental support of the scheme. I knew that the parents of my students were educated in an era where play was not a valued teaching methodology. They were taught in the traditional, didactic teaching style and thus valued this form of education. Therefore, most were unaware of the critical importance of play in teaching children core subjects in the curriculum.
I felt that the most powerful and compelling method of communicating the educational importance of play would be to capture it on film in an educational video production. With the creation of such a media artefact, I aimed to justify the use of play, foster support for play as a teaching methodology and bridge the widening gap in communication between the school and the homes of the children. Also, I felt that the visual imagery would overcome the language barrier I experience with some parents.
Filming the video proved extremely challenging, as I could not script how the children would act on camera. Furthermore, the level of background noise during play sessions made it impossible to capture the children's conversations and demonstrate their thinking processes."
About Deirdre Shelly
Deirdre Shelly is a Primary School Teacher in a Junior National School in Dublin, Ireland. She has a particular interest in early childhood education and has been teaching Junior Infants for the past five years. For the past two years Deirdre has been exploring the potential for using play as a teaching and learning methodology. She recently graduated with a master in Education and Training Management (eLearning) in Dublin City University, in connection with which she created this video to demonstrate to the parents of her students, the role of play in the Junior Infant Classroom.
Deirdre represented this finalist entry at the MEDEA Awards 2012 Ceremony and the Media & Learning Conference 2012 Brussels on 14-15 November 2012.