Volume 4, Number 4

Interview

Overview

Howard Chudacoff is the George L. Littlefield Professor of American History and Professor of Urban Studies at Brown University and one of several coauthors of the popular textbook A People and a Nation (now in its ninth edition), which established the standard for instruction in social history in undergraduate classrooms. Chudacoff also coauthored The Evolution of American Urban Society (in its seventh edition), which surveys how political, economic, and social trends and issues of class, gender, culture, race, ethnicity, environment, social mobility, and suburbanization shaped life in America’s cities. In other books and scores of articles and papers, Chudacoff has explored family life, childhood, adolescence, aging, and leisure. His acclaimed Children at Play: An American History chronicles children’s exuberant play across the centuries as well as adult attempts to save children from their playful impulses. He is now at work on a book about the major turning points in the history of intercollegiate athletics during the second half of the twentieth century. In this interview, Chudacoff reflects on the challenges of writing about the history of play, the relationship between play and other topics and themes he has explored, and, particularly, about the relationship between play and sports in the United States. Key words: history of children’s play; childhood; college sports; family life; sports in the United States

 

Articles

by Lisa Witherspoon and John P. Manning

Abstract

The authors examine technology-driven games—especially active gaming—as an evolving form of children’s play. They offer an overview of play and its developmental benefits, describe the literature on the emergence of technology-driven play, and reflect on the diminishment of physical play in contemporary culture. They suggest that active gaming, which they describe in detail, not only meets the research-based definition of play, but also may fill the role of traditional play whose growing absence has left behind a vacuum. Key words: active gaming; play; physical activity; technology; young children

by Jaipaul L. Roopnarine and Bora Jin

Abstract

In this study, the authors use psycho-cultural models of ethnic parental theories and acculturation to look at Indo Caribbean immigrant beliefs concerning the relationship between the amount of time children play and their early academic performance. During home interviews, fifty-seven Indo Caribbean couples offered their opinions about the importance of play for childhood development and estimated the amount of time their children both played and studied at home. The authors then tested each child for early academic performance using the Kaufman Survey of Early Academic and Language Skills. Mothers and fathers held discrepant beliefs about the value of play, and maternal beliefs about the cognitive benefit of play affected the relationship between the amount of time children play and their cognitive performance. The authors discuss the data in the context of immigrant acculturation and the impact the roles of parent and child have on determining the associations between play and childhood achievement. Key words: ethnicity and child rearing; immigrant acculturation; Indo Caribbean peoples; parental attitudes about play; play and early academic performance.

by William A. Corsaro

Abstract

The author looks at children’s play from the perspective of interpretive reproduction, emphasizing the way children create their own unique peer cultures, which he defines as a set of routines, artifacts, values, and concerns that children engage in with their playmates. The article focuses on two types of routines in the peer culture of preschool children—approach-avoidance play and dramatic role play—and compares their importance. The author outlines the universal nature of these routines and how they can be embellished and extended. Key words: approach-avoidance play; children and social development; children’s peer cultures; dramatic role play; interpretive reproduction; la Strega; plying the frame; socialization

by Garry Chick, Careen Yarnal, and Andrew Purrington

Abstract

The overwhelming majority of play research concerns juveniles. However, a full understanding of the phenomenon requires knowledge of play and playfulness across the life spans of those animals, including humans, who play in adulthood. The authors investigate a theory of play based on Darwin’s concept of sexual selection that may account for the existence of play among adult humans. The authors hypothesize that playfulness becomes a highly desired characteristic in potential long-term mates but also that the reasons for desiring playful mates differ for males and females. The authors suggest that for males, playfulness in females signals youth and, hence, fecundity; for females, playfulness in males signals nonaggressiveness. They test these hypotheses using mate-preference data. Key words: adult play and playfulness; play and mate preference; play evolution; sexual selection

If a wild animal habitually performs some useless activity, natural selection will favour rival individuals who devote the time and energy, instead, to surviving and reproducing. Nature cannot afford frivolous jeux d’esprit. Ruthless utilitarianism trumps, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

—Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

 

Book Reviews

by Warren Buckleitner

"Sir, is this your bag?" The TSA agent looked serious. "Yes," I responded, surprised. As a frequent traveler, I have become adapt at moving smoothly through airport screening lines. Why was my laptop-free bag being searched? She reached in my bag and pulled out the second edition of Singer and Singer’s Handbook of Children and the Media. To my amazement, she dropped the heavy 803-page hardcover onto a stainless steel examination table and began carefully swiping the inside pages for explosive residue. She told me the thick hardcover was blocking the x-ray machine’s view of my bag’s contents.

by Kathleen E. Fite

Barbara Martin believes gender is socially constructed, and her objective in writing this book is to help others understand gender development through a feminist poststructuralist lens. The research she conducted for the book includes a two- year ethnographic study of three- to four-year-old children from an inner-city London primary school where many of the children came from culturally and linguistically diverse, low-income households.

by Cleo Gougoulis

This comprehensive and extremely attractive book, written in French, comprises the companion volume to what must have been a fascinating and well-documented international exhibition on the history of toys made for Western children from antiquity to the present, with an additional glimpse of twentieth-century toys from Japan. Bearing the same title as the book and jointly organized by the Réunion des Musées Nationaux Grand Palais, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and the Helsinki Art Museum, the exhibit Des Jouets et des Hommes (Of Toys and Men) appeared at the National Galleries of the Grand Palais in Paris, France, from September 14, 2011, to January 23, 2012, and subsequently in Helsinki, Finland, from 21 February to May 20, 2012.

by James Paul Gee

Over the last few years, there has been great interest in the power of video games not just to entertain but to promote learning, health, social change, and art. Many believe that the deep source of this power is the ability of video games to attract and motivate players (even up to the point of addiction, some claim). But what creates this power? Rigby and Ryan offer a psychological explanation—but one replete with social and political implications.

by Peter Gray

My parents moved a lot. Between my fourth and fourteenth birthdays (mostly in the 1950s), I lived in eight different neighborhoods, in six different cities or villages. Yet, finding friends to play with, and exciting things to play at, never seemed a problem. All I had to do was go outside, and there they were. Kids were everywhere and could go everywhere. Every community had its own kids’ play culture. In one village, we spent huge amounts of time at pick-up baseball, kite building, and, in winter, skating down ice slides that we made on the steep hill behind the school. In another village, we played mostly on the lake. We swam, fished, rowed, skated, and skied on it, all the time exploring it and the life within and around it. Adults almost never joined us in these activities or even knew what we were doing.

Garry Chick is Professor and Head of the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management and Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. He is coeditor of The Many Faces of Play, Encyclopedia of Leisure and Recreation in America, and Explorations in the Fields of Play, volume one of the Play & Culture Studies series. He has authored or co-authored more than one hundred articles and book chapters on cultural anthropology and leisure sciences and his work has appeared in such journals as the Journal of Sport and Leisure, Journal of Leisure Research, and Leisure Sciences. 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 life-span, and college students’ use of leisure time. Coauthor of articles that have appeared in 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. Andrew Purrington is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Pennsylvania State University.

 

William A. Corsaro is Professor of Sociology at Indiana University. Recipient of more than twenty research and teaching grants and awards, he has studied or taught in Germany, Italy, Norway, and Sweden. He is the author of Friendship and Peer Culture in the Early Years; The Sociology of Childhood; "We’re Friends, Right?": Inside Kids’ Culture; and more than seventy-five scholarly book chapters and articles, including contributions to Sociology of Education, American Journal of Community Psychology, American Behavioral Scientist, and Research in Comparative and International Education. His work has also been featured on NPR, on the BCC in London, and in the New Yorker. Corsaro serves currently on the editorial boards of Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Ethnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa, and Psicologia Culturale.

 

Jaipaul L. Roopnaire is Professor of Child and Family Studies and Director of the Jack Reilly Institute for the Early Childhood and Provider Education at Syracuse University. He also serves as Adjunct Professor of Teaching and Leadership in the School of Education at Syracuse and as Senior Research Scientist at the Family Development and Children’s Research Centre at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. Roopnaire is the author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of more than a dozen books, including Children and Adolescents Across Cultures; Caribbean Families: Diversity Among Ethnic Groups; and Parent-Child Socialization in Diverse Cultures. He has contributed chapters to more than three dozen books, and his numerous articles have appeared in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Journal of Family Psychology, and the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, among others. Roopnaire has lectured internationally and served as a board member and advisor for various organizations including the American Psychological Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Bora Jin is a doctoral candidate in Child and Family Studies at Syracuse University.

 

Lisa Witherspoon is Assistant Professor and Research Coordinator in the School of Physical Education and Exercise and codirector of the Active Gaming Research Laboratories at the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in Digital & Cultural Education; Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sports Education; and The International Council for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sports, and Dance Journal of Research. She has lectured internationally and is the managing editor of PE Central’s Active Gaming for Physical Education Teachers webpage. JohnP.Manning has served as Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of South Florida. Previously, he worked as a children’s services manager and as an administrator for the licensing of child-care programs in Massachusetts. His current interests include child-care globalization, the use of medication in preschool settings, and the impact of folk psychology on college students’ perspectives of child development, and he has coauthored articles for Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood and the Journal of Australian Research in Early Childhood Education.