Volume 4, Number 1

Interview

Overview

A student of children’s folkways, Italian author and teacher Lella Gandini is best known in the United States as the leading advocate for the Reggio Emilia approach to early-childhood education, which emerged after the Second World War in Northern Italy—in the town that gives this approach its name. Gandini’s many publications in English and Italian include volumes on early-childhood education and Italian folklore, and she is coauthor or coeditor of such works as Insights and Inspirations from Reggio Emilia: Stories of Teachers and Children from North America; The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education; and Beautiful Stuff!: Learning with Found Materials. She holds a doctorate in education and has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Lesley College, and Smith College. In this interview, Gandini discusses how teachers and children in Reggio schools make thinking visible as they draw, sculpt, tell stories, construct theories, make maps, compose poetry, and explore their creativity in dramatic play. Key words: Alliance for Childhood; bedtime ritual; cantilene, Eric Carle; Bruno Ciari; filastrocche; Loris Malaguzzi; Don Milani; Montessori method; National Association for the Education of Young Children; Reggio Emilia

Articles

by Doris Bergen and Darrel Davis

Abstract

Many early developmental theorists such as Freud, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky suggested that play—which the authors of this article define as both playful activity and playful thought—had the power to influence the moral emotions, behaviors, and reasoning of children. More recent researchers have also found evidence of moral development in their observations of children’s play. But, the authors claim, there have been many changes in the culture of childhood and adolescence in the past twenty years, and these have affected both the amount of time spent in play and the types of play that prevail. This article describes potential changes in the nature of play related to three new technologies—technology-augmented toys, video games, and virtual communities—and reviews the research and theory about their impact on play and on moral development. The authors look at research (including their own), discuss the positive and negative influences of these new technologies, and describe the need for further investigation. Key words: cheating; play and moral development; technology-augmented toys; video games; violence in video games; virtual communities

by Careen Yarnal and Xinyi Qian

Abstract

Few studies of adult playfulness exist, but limited research on older adults and playfulness suggests that playfulness in later life improves cognitive, emotional, social, and psychological functioning and healthy aging overall. Older adults represent a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population, underscoring the need to understand the aging process. In this article, the authors report on the first three steps of a four-step, multimethod approach to test the hypothesis that playfulness is an important component of healthy aging in older adults. Step 1 determines the characteristics of older-adult playfulness, extending Barnett’s (2007) study of young-adult playfulness and recruiting participants from a different age group (older adults rather than younger adults). Based on findings from Step 1, in Step 2 the authors develop the Older Adult Playfulness (OAP) scale to measure playfulness in older adults. In Step 3, they validate the reliability of the OAP scale. A forthcoming manuscript will report on the relationship between older adult playfulness and healthy aging (Step 4). Key words: adult playfulness; child playfulness; Older-Adult Playfulness (OAP) scale; older adults

by Scott G. Eberle

Abstract

Howard Gardner first posited a list of “multiple intelligences” as a liberating alternative to the assumptions underlying traditional IQ testing in his widely read study Frames of Mind (1983). Play has appeared only in passing in Gardner’s thinking about intelligence, however, even though play instructs and trains the verbal, interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical, spatial, musical, and bodily intelligences that Gardner regards as original human endowments. Playing out of doors also enhances and exercises the faculty that Gardner later marked as the naturalist intelligence. As recess dwindles in American schools, and as free play shrinks in the childhood experience, this article finds fresh cause to inspect the merits of multiple-intelligence theory through the lens of play. Key words: bodily-kinesthetic intelligence; Howard Gardner; interpersonal intelligence; intrapersonal intelligence; logical intelligences; multiple intelligences; musical intelligence, naturalist intelligence; spatial intelligence; verbal intelligence

by Michael Atkinson

Abstract

As many cultural groups in Western societies have become disaffected with mainstream sports cultures and their logics of practice, sociologists of sport and physical culture have turned their attention to the existential benefits of play and games. There is growing interest in revisiting and exploring the classic theories of play in society, including those of Roger Caillois. The author considers the increasingly popular practice of fell running among a group of enthusiasts in the United Kingdom as an activity that playfully embraces and celebrates the voluptuous panic of ilinx activities. He argues that fell running is not a pure form of ilinx as defined by Caillois but that the sport’s willful—and highly pleasurable—disruption of the mind and body through vertigo and panic fits Caillois’s description of the benefits of play and games. Using ethnographic data about fell runners collected during two years in the United Kingdom, the author suggests that they make existential connections with time, space, and the elements through the voluptuous panic and animal mimicry described by Caillois and others. Key words: Roger Caillois; fell running; ilinx; physical- cultural studies; post-sport physical culture; voluptuous panic

Book Reviews

by Carsten Jessen

It takes courage and a great deal of confidence to challenge the dominant belief system in education by writing a book that claims “the kind of learning that will define the twenty-first century is not taking place in a classroom” (p. 17). The vast majority of public-education stakeholders will inevitably resist such a claim. Perhaps that is why Thomas and Brown modify their bold declaration with this reassuring qualification: “at least not in today’s classroom”(p.17). Questioning the classroom proves the least of their “crimes” against the traditional educational system. Anyone with a serious interest in education should read the 137 inspiring pages of this brief book, particularly because Thomas and Brown dare to criticize several basic assumptions of the field, and they do so with great confidence.

by Stephen Demanchick

Teaching child-centered play therapy (CCPT) is not an easy task. It is exhilarating, joyous, challenging, rewarding, and stimulating—but not at all easy. Those who teach, research, and write about this approach would agree with the notion that being skilled at CCPT requires more of the practitioner than flawlessly executing a therapeutic methodology. The skillful CCPT practitioner enters the child’s world empathetically and understands how to be with each and every child in each and every moment. CCPT requires the practitioner to accept, prize, and allow the child to lead while maintaining the structure of limits and boundaries. It asks the therapist to be fully attentive, vulnerable, and genuine, and to communicate an unwavering and steadfast belief in the innate ability of the child to grow in positive directions. Thus, teaching play-therapy techniques requires the ability to explain a concept clearly and to model it authoritatively; however, fostering a profound belief in the child-centered way of counseling children requires the teacher to inspire her students to view and relate to children in a new way. Both novice and experienced practitioners will find that very inspiration in each of these highly informative texts.

by Ann Marie Guilmette

Although this title, while evocative, appears to have little to do with play, its research provides an important framework for understanding and studying play. The authors’ qualitative approach explains how non-events (such as waiting, routines, and daydreaming) are learned, acquired, communicated, and symbolically organized. The analysis demonstrates how individuals transform these inconspicuous activities into culturally comprehensive patterns. Yet, Billy Ehn and Orvar Löfgren ignore the extent to which play literature has already contributed to this understanding. There are people (mostly from folklore studies) who have studied play from a qualitative perspective and who have implemented a fieldwork research paradigm to explore the equally elusive and ephemeral experiences that play can offer. The book would have been stronger if it had noted the work of scholars such as Peter and Iona Opie in Britain; Catherine Garvey, Gregory Bateson, and Jay Mechling in America; Dorothy Howard in Australia (as profiled in Kate Darian-Smith and June Factor’s Child Play book about her playground studies); and the research collective of Brian Sutton- Smith’s students at the University of Pennsylvania (Ann Beresin, Linda Hughes, Felicia McMahon, Alice Meckley, and Diana Kelly-Byrne).

by Barry Joseph

Recently, I received an invitation to participate in a small group consultation for an arts-oriented foundation. The program officer wanted to hear how digital media creates new opportunities to support interest-driven learning amongst today’s youth. It was a diverse group: museum educators, academic researchers, youth media educators, and even a magazine publisher. At the start of the day, someone asked if we could clarify our terms. What did we mean, exactly, when we used the phrase “interest-driven” learning? In response, the facilitator asked, to establish a common frame, who had read Mimi Ito’s book, Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media.

by Olga S. Jarrett

An outstanding collection of original research and new insights on play, this is the ninth volume of a series of annual publications by The Association for the Study of Play (TASP), a scholarly organization of play researchers. The variety of articles—organized into three sections, each of which includes three articles and an introductory commentary by an eminent play researcher—testifies to the broad spectrum of TASP membership, which includes psychologists, folklorists, sociologists, educators, anthropologists, historians, animal researchers, and therapists, all of them with their own ideas about play. The forward, by series editor James E. Johnson, refers to the book as “a box of jewels,” and I agree.

Michael Atkinson is a sociologist and Associate Professor in the Physical Education and Health Department at the University of Toronto, where he teaches policy studies and research methods in sport, exercise, and physical culture. He is the author and coauthor of seven books, including Deconstructing Men and Masculinities; Deviance and Social Control in Sport; and Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of a Body Art. His research has appeared in The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology; Youth and Society; and The International Review of the Sociology of Sport, among others. Atkinson has lectured internationally and served in various editorial capacities for a number of scholarly journals, including Leisure Studies and Sport in Society.

Doris Bergen is Professor of Educational Psychology at Miami University in Ohio. She chaired the department for ten years and is currently codirector of the university’s Center for Human Development, Learning, and Technology. She has published scores of articles and essays and is author, coauthor, or editor of seven books, including Assessment Methods for Infants and Toddlers: Transdisciplinary Team Approaches; Educating and Caring for Very Young Children: The Infant/Toddler Curriculum; Play from Birth to Twelve: Contexts, Perspectives, and Meanings; Human Development: Traditional and Contemporary Theories; and Brain Research and Childhood Education: Implications for Educators. Darrel Davis, a specialist in instructional technology, serves as Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at Miami University. His coauthored articles have appeared in Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Journal of Engineering Education. He has taught and presented papers on human behavior, psychological foundations of learning, and Web-related instruction in the United States, Canada, and Belize.

Scott Eberle is Vice President for Play Studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play. An intellectual historian, he has developed dozens of exhibits for The Strong’s National Museum of Play, lectured widely on historical interpretation, and contributed articles to the Journal of Museum Education, Death Studies, and History News. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of four books, including Classic Toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame: A Celebration of the Greatest Toys of All Time! Currently he is coediting Handbook of the Study of Play, slated for publication in 2014.

Careen Yarnal is Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Pennsylvania State University. Her current research interests include adult play and positive aging, women’s leisure across the lifespan, and college students’ use of leisure time. She has contributed coauthored articles to Ageing and Society; Leisure Studies; Leisure Sciences; Annals of Leisure Research; and the Journal of Leisure Research. She serves currently as Associate Editor for the Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Research. Xinyi Qian is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation focuses on leisure time as a coping resource, and she has contributed coauthored articles to Leisure, Annals of Leisure Research, and Journal of Leisure Research.