THE CONCEPT OF PLAY
We have seen that the concepts within our ...


Play is play whoever plays it but t...
about’ as observers. It is therefore understandable why PE teachers use the medium of play as a way o...
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  1. 1. SRG AS LEVEL PE - CS THE CONCEPT OF PLAY We have seen that the concepts within our Field of Study can be illustrated in the form of a continuum (an imaginary scale between two extremes). The continuum shows that there are changes in certain aspects of our activities such as level of organisation and skill. We could picture the scale as shown: PLAY PHYSICAL RECREATION SPORT We will be looking further at the terms mass participation and sporting excellence and how each of these can be achieved in our society but at this stage we should simply understand that the concepts can be linked to the extremes of our continuum: Play is the broadest concept in that it is open to all (inclusive) sport however, particularly at a high level, is not available to everyone (exclusive). It may exclude people in terms of ability, time or opportunity. According to one theory, ‘If it’s fun, it’s play’. Our task is to clarify the nature of play in its purest form. Play is for everyone but it is true that children play more than adults – this is possibly due to time constraints on adults! Play is a temporary experience that makes us feel good. Generally there are no predetermined rules for play we simply do it for its own sake and immediate enjoyment. Because nothing tangible comes from it, we can say it is non-serious and encompasses the freedom to choose when and where to play Play is a valuable experience however and can give us to develop ourselves in various ways: Physical Moral (e.g. running & jumping) (e.g. being fair & not cheating) Environmental (e.g. safety) Cognitive (e.g. decision-making & devising rules) Social (e.g. making friends & working with others) Play is something we do either on our own or with others. It has little to do with reality it simply makes us feel good. Play tends to start out spontaneously and then maintains some level of spontaneity throughout. But if the same group regularly plays together then the play can become more formalised with rules being established to help continuity. In other words: ‘An activity from which you get immediate pleasure without ulterior motive’ (Spencer) With play, time and space are both decided by agreement. They are both basic freedoms associated with play including your decision when to start and stop, and where to play. Whilst there may be others involved with the decisions, one can always walk away; and the environment chosen will probably influence the nature of the play and certainly developments within. Or: ‘A voluntary activity, never a physical necessity or moral duty’ (Huizinga)
  2. 2. SRG AS LEVEL PE - CS DO CHILDREN AND ADULTS HAVE DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES WHEN PLAYING? Play is play whoever plays it but the players may interpret it in different ways and anticipate different values from the experience of it. The analysis, that children and adults derive separate pleasures from play and that children increase their mastery of reality whilst adults merely step aside from reality, has some credence when you consider the table below that looks at what we are doing when at play: CHILDREN ADULTS Pretend to be grown up Escape from the real world of work Role play adult situations Gain cathartic value (psychological relief) Learn to get on together Enjoy the non-serious nature of play (pure pleasure) Establish lasting friendships Takes them back into a child-like mode Find out about themselves Allows a serious adult to express personal Learn physical skills and decision making interests and attitudes without the likelihood of redress Note, however, that there are exceptions to the rule: • Children will often escape into their play-world as they pretend and act spontaneously. • Adults can master reality in terms of social relationships that are built up through shared interests. CHARACTERISTICS OF PLAY. The value of play lies in the fact that it can perform so many functions. Consider a game of ‘Hide & Seek’ and we can see many aspects that might promote physical, mental and social well-being (health): Notion of a group working co-operatively to find/ Civilisation rehearsal help/catch As parents they will need to find children, pets or Role rehearsal other objects Surplus energy An active game with plenty of chasing Transmission of culture Why do Aboriginal children regularly play it? Could stimulate such traits as endeavour and co- Personality development operation It’s non-serious, but exciting: different from Cathartic function normal life With so many associations in any one situation there is an absence of a single manifest function. This allows the playground to become one of the best environments for learning as performers and ‘learning
  3. 3. SRG AS LEVEL PE - CS about’ as observers. It is therefore understandable why PE teachers use the medium of play as a way of teaching their subject. If children are encouraged by play and games, they experience decision-making, the consequence of rule breaking and the heart-ache of upsetting a friend. Educational psychologists, such as Jean Piaget, strongly promote the role of play as having a perceived educational value. This is most strongly evident in theories of educational gymnastics, modern dance and games making. In all three there is an emphasis on the child discovering the potential and the skills of these activities on the grounds that in the process of problem solving, they learn more about themselves, learn to make decisions and learn to accommodate others. WHY IS PROFESSIONAL SPORT DIFFERENT FROM PLAY? Using the diagram drawn by Davies: PLAY Activities from which you get immediate pleasure without ulterior motive SPACE TIME Basic freedom, decided by Basic freedom, decided by agreement. Environment may agreement influence nature of play. ENJOYMENT The emotional core of play: people looking for a pleasurable experience. INTRINSIC SPONTANEOUS VALUE Play is emotionally led. It has no Participation for its own sake, ulterior motive. Rules are not where rewards are incidental fundamental and arise only to and benefit only for the player sustain play. NON-SERIOUS Because it’s non-productive and linked to intrinsic values. One can identify that the brief explanations of the characteristics of play and recreation, I have included above, all contrast strongly with the ideals of professionalism in sport: PLAY SPORT • Time & Space Freedom v. Constraints • Enjoyment Pleasure v. Pressure • Value Intrinsic v. Extrinsic • Organisation Spontaneous v. Rational • Product Non-serious v. Very serious