chapter  3
School yards and playgrounds
‘It’s very big but there’s nothing in it . . .’
Pages 10

The school yard or playground where ‘play time’, ‘break’ or ‘recess’ happens has been described by scholars on both sides of the Atlantic as one of the ‘Forgotten Spaces’ of the school (Blatchford, 1989: 4; Hart, 2002). This forgetfulness is odd given the extent to which academics and others from social sciences, anthropology, folklore studies, educational and environmental psychology and, latterly, social geography have over recent years investigated the playground as a site for better understanding the nature of childhood and human development. Forgetfulness or neglect appears to underline the evidence presented here of the quite different (from children) priorities many adults have for what children ‘should be doing’. Children’s time in the playground is, for many teachers and other adults in schools, a source of anxiety since it is often associated in their minds with apparently chaotic and random behaviour. And certainly, as far as children are concerned, the playground is a highly significant space in the school awarding opportunities for fun and pleasure, a break from school work and most importantly, a chance to get together with friends. While, for many, it is a place of boredom, loneliness or fear, for most children, the best part of school is being with friends and trying to play as much as possible (Rousmaniere, 2001). Moreover, the playground is seldom forgotten when older people recall their school days.