BRUCE HURST

Research Fellow

Bruce Hurst is a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Griffith University and a powerful advocate for the child’s voice. He is one of a small number of researchers specialising in Outside School Hours Care (OSHC), an important yet under-researched play, leisure and care setting. Bruce is interested in participatory research methodologies that seek children’s views of OSHC in innovative ways. His work draws on post-structural theories of power and knowledge in ways that disrupt how children and their settings are theorised and the implications for practice. In 2014, Bruce’s Master Thesis was awarded the Freda Cohen Prize for the most outstanding masters research thesis in the Graduate School of Education. Bruce is the Deputy Chair of the Community Child Care Association and he believes that children have a right to exercise their citizenship especially when adults fail to act in their best interest.

Keynote Title: Listening Playfully - Is listening to children work or play? It's not a binary.

For adults who work in play settings, listening to children and their opinions is a fundamental part of the work that we do. Whilst listening to children may be a form of work it doesn't mean that it can't also be playful. One characteristic of western thought is the way it divides social categories into binary opposites. In an Australian context, work is commonly regarded as the opposite of play and a completely separate act. Work is also seen as the province of adults whilst play is regarded the business of children. Perhaps though binaries like this are unhelpful and don't capture the rich and messy realities of working and playing with children. Thinking about listening to children as only work limits the ways we can perform this important task. Why can't listening to children be playful and why can't play be a way of listening to children?
This presentation introduces a recent research project that investigated young children’s views about school age care. What started out as a straight forward consultation became more complex as children's play entered the research space in unexpected ways. As this research progressed, I began to think more about how we distinguish between work and play. Who says that work should only be the business of adults, play the business of children? This research became an exploration of how consultation with children can take more play like forms. This keynote invites you to question your taken for granted assumptions about work and play and in doing so prompt consideration of how we can shed history and begin to listen to children in ways that are more playful, unpredictable, and perhaps even fun.

Sponsored by Rosie's Early Learning Centre

BRUCE HURST