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You Can't Say You Can't Play
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You Can't Play: The Habit of Rejection The Inquiry: Is It Fair? Will It Work? The New Order Begins It Is Easier to Open the Door

About the Author

Vivian Gussin Paley (1929-2019), a longtime classroom teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, was a MacArthur Fellow and winner of the 1998 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Reviews

This book on early education describes an experiment Paley conducted in her kindergarten classroom. Unhappy with the fact that children too quickly learn to ostracize unwanted classmates, Paley decided to make some changes. She created a new social order by posting a sign saying, ``You Can't Say, You Can't Play.'' She hoped to enforce the new order with the series of stories included in this book, which utilize a group of stock characters, principally Magpie. Paley creates an enticing series of children's stories, but her thesis is problematic. As a text for teachers concerned with the moral life of children, it is neither a substantial nor a substantiated offering, and other authors may offer more help.--Nancy E. Zuwiyya, Binghamton City Sch. District, N.Y.

Vivian Gussin Paley's book You Can't Say You Can't Play is arresting in its title, magical in its appeal, and inspiring in its message...[It] illustrates how the teacher's art can attack the evil of exclusion at its childhood root. Now, Mrs. Paley, we need your help in weeding out the pernicious practices that afflict the adults of our exclusionary society. -- Derrick Bell New York Times Book Review [Paley] is an esteemed kindergarten teacher whose previous writing has been about using children's stories and fantasies as vehicles for learning. Here she interweaves her private reflections, her conversations with children, and a story she spins, to tell what happened when she instituted a radical new order in her classroom. Her new rule prohibited children from excluding someone who wanted to play. The implications of such a non-exclusion rule are profound; most of the children resisted a first, but with discussion began to adjust their behavior and truly experience the benefits of making no one a stranger. Paley makes a powerful statement in this slim book, to teachers, parents, and society at large. Booknews In instituting the ['you can't say you can't play'] rule, Paley was challenging the assumption that cruelty in childhood is to be expected and that children should fend for themselves when it happens--notions she believes unfairly relieve adults of their duty to intervene. And she rejects the idea that children could benefit from such experiences. -- Theresa Defino Washington Post In this brief, ethereal and tender account of social relations among children, Paley...explores how to keep students from being ignored by their classmates. Woven throughout Paley's lessons is a parable about loneliness and rejection, which enables readers to share a child's view of the world. What the kids have to say is enchanting and surprisingly wise. Publisher's Weekly

In this brief, ethereal and tender account of social relations among children, Paley--a kindergarten teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a MacArthur grant recipient and the author of The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter --explores how to keep students from being ignored by their classmates. She describes what happened when she asked students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade to debate the proposition ``You Can't Say You Can't Play.'' Woven throughout Paley's lessons is a parable about loneliness and rejection, which enables readers to share a child's view of the world. What the kids have to say is enchanting and surprisingly wise. For example, should a ``boss'' determine who plays with whom, or should there be an election? As a sagacious second-grader observes: ``See, the bad thing about voting is, if you don't vote for that person she'll see all the people who don't like her. If it's a boss that's only one person doesn't like you so you don't feel so bad.syntax of quote ok '' (Sept.)

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