Jack Nelson

Guns Arent Nice: Preschool Teachers Perceptions and Policing of Black Boys Play

Play is a central component of childhood development, yet previous research on play largely neglects the role of racism and prejudice in childrens play, and in the way their play is perceived by adults. Were left with all these unanswered questions: How do teachers impose their own values onto students play? How do teachers perceptions of play affect the way they regulate or police it? In what ways are certain groups marginalized, stifled, or supported through the treatment of their play? Drawing from observations in a preschool classroom and data from existing literature, I aim to describe how the play of preschool students, Black boys in particular, is surveilled, regulated, and evaluated by teachers in order to help untangle the relationships between race, education, and play. In doing so, I hope to provide a framework for teachers to re-evaluate their perceptions of students play with the goal of creating a more equitable and supportive classroom for marginalized students.

Message to Sponsor

I want to thank my SURF donor for the opportunity to conduct research this summer. Without it, I would probably have had to spend the whole summer working and wouldn't have gotten to focus on something I truly care about. The SURF program helped me develop as an individual and as a researcher, and will support me in applying (and hopefully attending) grad school next year.
  • Major: Cognitive Science
  • Sponsor: Anonymous Donor
  • Mentor: Travis Bristol