Problematizing pedagogical imports and creating new conditions for children's development: a case from China

Marilyn Fleer, Liang Li, Zhonglian Yan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


The divergence and fragmentation of psychology into areas such as critical psychology, cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology, indigenous psychology and cultural-historical psychology have meant that the conceptual tools available from each have not traditionally been brought to bear on one study. However, as communities merge into a global dynamic, contemporary research needs change, and complex research problems arise that need new conceptual tools. This chapter draws upon the methodological principles and concepts of both critical psychology and cultural-historical theory for understanding the play practices and conditions for structuring play in one kindergarten from one province in China. The focus is on how the central problem of implementing a play-based curriculum in a context of traditionally formalized learning practices has resulted in new play practices that create new conditions for children's development. The findings speak directly into the international literature in new ways. This chapter raises questions about pedagogical imports and the expected alignment of Chinese cultural heritage values to Western play practices. Four central critical ideas emerged: Western romanticized views of play, beyond the individualized playing child, play colonialism and challenging laboratory-based empirical play as the only valid form of knowledge generation about play. It is argued that the tools from both traditions of critical psychology and cultural-historical psychology are needed for disrupting misconceptions in contexts where cultural communities are engaged globally and working locally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCultural-Historical and Critical Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationCommon Ground, Divergences and Future Pathways
EditorsMarilyn Fleer, Fernando González Rey, Peter E. Jones
Place of PublicationSingapore Singapore
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789811522093
ISBN (Print)9789811522086
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Cultural-Historical Research
ISSN (Print)2520-1530
ISSN (Electronic)2520-1549

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