‘Muck-about’: Aboriginal Conceptions of Play and Early Childhood Learning

  • Denise ProudEmail author
  • Sandra Lynch
  • Cynthia à Beckett
  • Deborah Pike
Part of the International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education and Development book series (CHILD, volume 18)


The personal recollections and reflections on play and playfulness of Denise Proud, a Murri woman from Queensland Australia, are the stimulus for this chapter’s exploration of Aboriginal understandings and attitudes towards play. Recounting her childhood experiences, Proud explains the role and significance of ‘muck-about’ play and making fun in Aboriginal life and introduces the concept of Darn Najun Burri. Darn Najun Burri, which emphasises empathetic engagement with others and the capacity to imagine oneself in the place of the other, is connected with the concept of grace and an imperative towards gratitude and counting one’s blessings. The significance of these concepts of ‘muck-about’ and of Aboriginal approaches to play in general is explored first within Aboriginal culture and secondly for the contribution they can make to broadening understandings of play, to best practice in early childhood education and to educational initiatives more generally in non-indigenous settings.


Aboriginal Community Aboriginal People Early Childhood Education Aboriginal Context Aboriginal Culture 
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denise Proud
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sandra Lynch
    • 2
  • Cynthia à Beckett
    • 2
  • Deborah Pike
    • 2
  1. 1.Early Childhood ConsultantBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.The University of Notre Dame AustraliaSydneyAustralia

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