Vivian Gussin Paley, a former kindergarten teacher, is the winner of a MacArthur Award and of the 1998 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement given by the Before Columbus Foundation.
Offering helpful advice on what works, the book shows how good practice based on practical experience is underpinned and clarified by research findings. Furthermore, it illustrates that an understanding of the development of narrative competence can challenge current ideas on various areas of early years practice, including child protection, health and safety and the consultation of children.
"Wally's Stories" is itself a story: the story of the evolution of a kindergarten classroom in which Vivian Paley learned to stop fighting childish fantasy and instead make use of it to stimulate the very best brand of thinking her five year-olds can muster. Stories also lie at the heart of her classroom: stories that are first told by one of the children, then transcribed by the teacher, and then acted out by the class in dramatic productions of their own design. Vivian Paley shows that in the course of creating their own dramatic world, five-year-olds are capable of thought and language far in advance of what they accomplish in traditional classroom exercises. The children's stories also become a vehicle that they can use to explain themselves to their teacher and to one another. Together, teacher and children develop an unusual environment, one that is logical and literate, based on rules of fairness, friendship, and fantasy.
Vivian Paley's book is as refreshing as her teaching method. A new kind of book about a new kind of classroom.