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Why Rumpus?

‘Fun’ is a contested term. It is frequently invoked in many cultures in rhetorics of childhoods, by both adults and children, typically as a necessary constituent of a ‘good childhood’ and as a defining characteristic of children and young people’s identities and experience. Yet a rigorous examination of this construct and its relationship to childhoods and children’s identities and learning has not, to our knowledge, been defined or discussed in the many literatures spanning children and childhoods. Indeed, while invoking fun as necessary to good childhoods, adults also often have ambivalent or even dismissive perspectives on the concept, viewing fun as frivolous, ‘just fun’, or considering it wasteful, setting it in opposition to the meaningful ‘work’ of learning and development in childhood. Fun in adulthood is also a challenged and under-examined construct.

The OU’s new interdisciplinary RUMPUS research group is based in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education, and Language Studies but has members from across the university and outside it. We examine the role of fun in learning and life, for both children and adults, and from both children’s and adults’ perspectives.

We draw on expertise in children’s identities and self-concept including their invocations of fun as central to their selves, in teacher and learner identities across different spaces, including their epistemologies of fun, and in inter- and cross-cultural working including community-based sustainable development.