Jacques Derrida’s playful thinking about knowledge and meaning offers many rich opportunities for critique of education in Aotearoa New Zealand. In this article the problematisation of the theme of play in early education is taken up through a play with a Derridean deconstruction of the adult’s role in play. Play is problematised as a narrowly defined and organised activity of childhood rationalised for its technical purposes. The child player is governed by techniques of knowing play that delimit claims to expertise in knowing what is (and is not) the nature and purpose of child’s play. Derrida’s play with Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1922) provides a different thinking of the revealing of the child’s play. Playing with Derrida’s play brings into play the question of the academic self as autobiographical player.