Ed 260, Fall 2009 Week #3, Sept 21, Play Under Siege
September 21, 2009
Play Under Siege
NPR Audio clip: Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious
Finishing Chudacoff: Chapter 6
Defining the Problem: Why is play “under siege”?
So how do we respond? Advocacy work needed
Making the learning in play visible
Tutorial on Uploading Photos and video to your Wiki
Rise of mass-marketing to children. Mickey-mouse Club and Barbies introduced.
“Disney and Mattel wedged themselves between parents and children”
Longer life-spans meant more living grandparents to indulge children Birth rates
down in 1970s-80s…fewer children at home to play with and fears about
protection led to more adult supervision.
Concerns increase for “safeguarding children from all hazards”. Spock and other
experts spoke about “shielding vulnerable children” from risk to health and safety.
Parents turned to the courts when their children were injured outside of their
supervision. “Tightly controlled play activity”: 1972 US Consumer Product Safety
Commission begins to recall “unsafe” toys and standards for playground
“As the values and goals of success have been switched from acquisition of
material things to educational and personal achievement, middle class parents
have become less and less patient with the “wastefulness of play.” Upwardly
mobile parents wanted their pre-adolescent kids to be better than average in all
things, so they tried to provide them with professionally run activities that would
enrich their minds, tone their bodies, inculcate physical skills, and enhance their
self-esteem.” (p. 165)
Why is children’s play “under siege”?
How has this personally affected you?
Think about examples of the pressures
you feel to transition away from play-based
What is the discourse you hear about this?
How do you respond?
Making visible the need for
Challenge this historical trend that is taking us
Understand the many roots to the problem
Have a thorough understanding of what children
accomplish through play
Articulate your position with professional knowledge
and awareness of the research
Fantasy play as a “leading factor” in children’s development, “in play it is as
though he were a head taller than himself” Zone of Proximal Development
Make sense of their world. Organize it. Find order/pattern/predictability.
Symbolic Thinking. Make believe play frees the child’s thinking from
concrete experience and concrete perception allowing the child to master
higher levels of thinking, “pivots”
Unrealizable Desires. When needs can’t be met immediately, they can meet
them through play.
Rules/Self-Restraint. A central function of play for children is self-restraint
as children learn to follow set social rules in imaginary play.
Play as a context for acquiring culturally sanctioned meanings
Play as the natural language of children’s feelings
Children express mature, adult-level concepts and
themes in their play: friendship, safety, power,
abandonment, recovery, explorations of identity,
emotions like jealousy and pleasure
We ”use fantasy play to calm our anxieties and re-
Paley also argues that fantasy play helps children
develop the disposition of having an “open mind”.
“Today fantasy play is at the barricades with fewer and
fewer teachers willing to step up and defend the natural
style and substance of early childhood”(p. 32)
Teachers are concerned with the content that is coming
out in children’s play so they steer away from it” (p. 7)
“We are in danger of delegitimatizing mankind’s oldest
and best-used learning tool” (p.8)
How have you seen a child:
Acting a “head taller” than him/herself in play?
Using pivots in play?
Following specific “rules” in play that require his/her
Using play to address unrealizable desires?
Embedding his/her fears and feelings in play?
No class. We will have a reading reflection.
I will put the audio clip for Tools of the Mind (creative
Play makes for kids in Control) on the front page of the
wiki. Try to listen to it. It is approx. 9 minutes in length.
Begin working on your 1st experience of adult heart play
Who can bring in digital toys to share for class in two