Teach Them to Play! Educational Justice and the Capability for Childhood Play

Lasse Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Many consider play a natural part of childhood, and although there is disagreement in the literature on what essentially defines “play” in childhood, philosophical theories of play tend to support this initial consideration. But is childhood play also something we owe each other within a framework of educational justice? This is a question yet to be addressed. In this paper, I answer this question affirmatively. I take off from a generic account of educational justice and argue that childhood play should be considered a central entitlement of this account. I then argue in line with the capability approach that if we ought to protect childhood play, it should be children’s capability for play rather than the functioning of play that needs protection. I end by offering an account of the capability for childhood play.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)465–478
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


    • Childhood play
    • Educational justice
    • Social inequality
    • The capability approach


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