For my Independent Study project, I examined how teachers’ perspectives of play are influenced by the educational philosophy the school has adopted. This study explores the loss of play that has occurred in modern America and how it is affecting the role of the child in society and the role of play in education. I specifically focused on two private schools with very different philosophies to see if the environment and structure of the school affected teachers perspectives on what play is, how much play should be included in the school day, and if there any school philosophy is exempt from this decline in play.

Two schools in a small urban Ohio community were chosen for my study: Centerville Montessori, and St. Johns Elementary. I interviewed four early childhood teachers from each school on their views on play in education and its role in the classroom. I also observed the indoor and outdoor environments at each school to see what types of materials and spaces each school provided for play.

There were differences in the way that each school’s teachers talked about play. Centerville Montessori had a less structured school environment than St. Johns Elementary, which was very structured. The students at Centerville Montessori had more flexibility to choose their work, but teachers stressed they did not consider their work to be play based. St. Johns provides very little time for play due to standards and pressure from parents. However, both schools talked about the importance of play for learning and development, but did not seem to provide a large amount of time for play in the school day. Therefore, the loss of play applies to both schools regardless of the philosophy.


Fitz Gibbon, Heather


Sociology and Anthropology


Educational Sociology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Shelby L. Thielke