After reading Vivian Paley's books; producing three programs about her work; and collecting stories from children for more than 10 years, we are more convinced than ever that the stories children tell offer unique opportunities for helping them (and us!) piece together the teaching and learning puzzle.
Vivian Paley was awared a MacArthur genius grant for her teaching and writing. In her many books about working with young children, she documented the changes she made in her classroom practice as a result of thinking about children's stories and play.
As Gil McNamee wrote in The one who gathers children: the work of Vivian Gussin Paley and current debates about how we educate young children (The Journal of Early Childhood Teacher, 2005): “Paley found that listening to children, giving them the experience of being heard, and valuing their point of view fundamentally changed her. She learned that in order to teach, to be heard, she had to listen. Because she cared so deeply about what children were thinking and how their thinking developed, she invited, cultivated, and encouraged the children's play. The more she did, the more benefits she reaped; the more articulate, creative and expressive the children became. Her collected works now show how her methodology of teaching through fostering pretend play can be repeated year after year with groups of children from diverse backgrounds, and lead to the same results —highly educated children.”