Sunday, November 17, 2013

New writing

At the moment I'm writing about textual toys and the commodification of early literacy. I've noted before how a wide range of games and activity centres designed for young babies now have digital components - as do baby walkers, play mats and plush toys. Embedded in these toys are digitally-reproduced nursery rhymes, counting games and alphabet songs providing ‘edutainment’ for infants and toddlers. Although toys and toy manufacturers have always played an important part in early childhood, their role in young children’s learning is ill-defined,and under-theorised. This is especially true for early literacy in which everything from alphabet building blocks and jigsaw puzzles to  educational tablets like,the LeapPad, carries an implicit message about what literacy is, how it develops, and what roles adults, care-givers and children themselves should adopt. What is more, these implied roles blend in with current conceptions of parenting, defined by ‘social investment’ initiatives that reach into the relationship between children and adults to underscore the significance of what is done with as well as what is provided for the very young. Scollon's idea of a nexus of practice is proving to be a useful way of articulating the confluence of play practices involving literacy that are singular and situated, whilst at the same time acknowledging that play objects themselves are part of a political economy located in a global mediascape.