Volume 5, Number 2

Interview

Overview

George Rollie Adams is a historian and former teacher who has worked in the museum field for forty years, twenty-five of them as president and CEO of The Strong, where he has led the development of the National Museum of Play, International Center for the History of Electronic Games, National Toy Hall of Fame, Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, and American Journal of Play. Prior to coming to The Strong, Adams served consecutively as Director of the National Historic Landmarks Project and Director of Education for the American Association for State and Local History, Executive Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, and Assistant Commissioner of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism for the State of Louisiana with responsibility for the state museum system. He holds degrees in English, social science education, and history, and his publications include The American Indian: Past and Present (coeditor, first edition); Ordinary People and Everyday Life: Perspectives on the New Social History (coeditor); Nashville: A Pictorial History (coauthor); and General William S. Harney: Prince of Dragoons (author). In this interview, he talks about why and how The Strong evolved into the first collections-based museum anywhere devoted solely to the role of play in learning and human development and the ways in which play illuminates cultural history, and he describes the ways in which the institution carries out its educational mission. 

Articles

by Phillip Prager

Abstract

Dada, an art movement that became well known in the late 1910s and early 1920s, challengeded traditional notions of art and aesthetics. Dada artists, for example, tossed colored scraps of paper into the air to compose chance-based collages, performed sound poems devoid of semantic value, and modeled a headpiece fashioned of sardine cans. To most art historians, Dada remains a culturally contingent expression of World War I trauma, nihilism, political disillusionment, and an aggressive attack on the moral bankruptcy of Western culture. The author suggests that this negative interpretation originates from art history’s methodological blindness to the importance of play, not only to creative and artistic endeavors, but to human identity itself. Dada is characterized by an effervescent love of improvisation, curiosity, novelty and an unselfconscious exploration of the phenomenal world; it emphatically professed to be “anti-art” and “a state-of-mind.” When considered from the perspective of play research and positive psychology, Dada emerges as an early and visionary milestone in understanding play as a fundamental expression of humanity almost a century before academia would take adult play seriously. Key words: Albert Ellis; avant-garde; cognitive-behavioral therapy; creativity; Dada; Marcel Duchamp; modernism; play; positive psychology; Richard Hülsenbeck 

by Angeline S. Lillard

Abstract

Although Montessori education is often considered a form of playful learning, Maria Montessori herself spoke negatively about a major component of playful learning—pretend play, or fantasy—for young children. In this essay, the author discusses this apparent contradiction: how and why Montessori education includes elements of playful learning while simultaneously eschewing fantasy. She concludes with a discussion of research on the outcomes of Montessori education and on pretend-play research, clarifying how Montessori education relates to playful learning. Key words: didactic education: Montessori education: playful learning; preschool; pretend play 

by Eva Nwokah, Hui-Chin Hsu, and Hope Gulker

Abstract

Play is a major component of early intervention for infants and toddlers with special needs. Many of these children are from low-income families with limited resources. The authors investigate the attitudes, practices, and concerns of earlyintervention providers (professionals whose services support young children with developmental disabilities and delay) concerning their use of toys in their work and their worries about poor youngsters without such playthings. The authors’ survey of 320 early-intervention providers revealed that nearly all took play materials with them into the homes of some children but most of them also used items already present there. More than 80 percent of providers gave toys to their clients because of their concern that the family’s poverty made toys scarce. As a group, physical therapists and occupational therapists were significantly less likely to use play materials they took into the homes. Most significantly, perhaps, all providers found that poverty increased the need for related therapist services, for educating parents about play, and for using play materials in therapy. Key words: developmental delays; early intervention; natural environment; play materials, poverty, provider attitudes 

by Robyn M. Holmes, Sharon Liden, and Lisa Shin

Abstract

Based on the study of seventy-four middle school children of mostly Filipino and part Hawaiian heritages, this article explores the relationships of children’s thinking styles, play preferences, and school performance. Using the Group Embedded Figures Test, the Articulation of the Body Scale, and written responses to three questions, the authors found significant relationships between children’s field- independent or field-dependent thinking styles and play preferences; play preferences and academic performance; thinking styles and academic performance; and thinking styles and cultural setting. They also discovered that children’s preferences for sports related, both positively and negatively, to their scores on state-mandated tests for language and math; that children who preferred unstructured play activities tended to achieve academic success; and that cultural values were correlated to thinking style. The authors argue that their study has applied value for educators because it relates children’s play preferences to other aspects of their life experiences, which can help school policy makers decide the extracurricular activities and the types of play they should encourage. Key words: academic performance; field dependent; field independent; middle-school children; play; thinking styles 

Book Reviews

by James Marten

How many historians does it take to write an insightful, provocative, scholarly, and readable little book that will help students and historians alike understand the contexts in which the history and historiographies of children and youth have developed over the last half century? In this case, seven—the number who contributed to this model of purposeful collaboration that stakes a claim for the potential of history as a tool to explore and even influence public attitudes about and government policies toward children. 

by Sergio M. Pellis

This book builds on several decades of work by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp that attempts to establish a scientific basis for the study of emotion. Panksepp’s research involves the direct manipulation of the brain, which means his principal subjects are necessarily nonhuman animals. Panksepp’s core finding is that for many of the basic emotions we recognize, from rage to joy, specific brain circuits regulate the behavioral and physiological expressions we associate with these emotions. Moreover, these brain circuits primarily reside in the more primitive parts of the brain and are organized in the same manner in the rat brain as they are in the human brain. That is, all mammals, and maybe all animals, share a set of emotional systems. But, caught in entrenched intellectual traditions, students of both human and non-human animals resist the implications of these brain-based findings. 

by Mary A. Jensen

In their book, Curriculum in Early Childhood Education: Re-examined, Rediscovered, Renewed, coeditors Nancy File, Jennifer Mueller, and Debora Wisneski offer an engaging array of essays that examine philosophical, historical, cultural, and political influences on early-childhood curriculum. Their volume invites readers to consider alternate views of early-childhood curriculum and to reflect more deeply on some of the major issues in the field. This book will appeal to educators, graduate students, classroom teachers, researchers, and school leaders who wish to pursue an inclusive process of curriculum development and retain a responsive, child-centered focus in their work. 

by Liang Luo

Andrew F. Jones’s fascinating and beautifully written book should be read by all those interested in childhood, toys, fairy tales, and the discourse of development and its vernacularization in specific cultural contexts. A specialist in modern Chinese culture, Jones’s earlier book, Yellow Music: Media Culture and Colonial Modernity in the Chinese Jazz Age, was a study of popular music and media culture in Shanghai during the first decades of the twentieth century (Jones 2001). In Developmental Fairly Tales, Jones again weaves together a study of Chinese modernity— this time using one of its most important intellectuals, Lu Xun. This book is as much a monograph on Lu Xun as it is a dynamic examination of his generation’s evolutionary thinking. An emphasis on the pedagogical function of culture in its vernacular forms—newspaper article, popular magazine, children’s premier, film, and fairy tale—supplies the intellectual link between Jones’s earlier work and the current book. 

by Olga S. Jarrett

This delightful book of children’s outdoor games is designed to inspire parents, grandparents, and other adults to play outdoors with children. An introduction by Darell Hammond, founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, the organization promoting community-built playgrounds, challenges adults to reintroduce outdoor play into their children’s lives. What he refers to as “play deficit” occurs because children spend too much time watching television and playing video games when they are at home, and because unsafe neighborhoods and the abolition of recess in some schools discourage outdoor play. He challenges parents to make their children play outdoors for at least sixty minutes each day and recommends the games in the book as a way to encourage outdoor play. Most of the games were contributed by Playworks, a nonprofit organization that provides play activities and supervision during school recess and at other play times. Additional games come from people who have participated in play days and wanted to share their ideas.

by Melissa Luke

As a school-counselor educator who regularly teaches courses in child and adolescent counseling, as well as play therapy, I read with interest Linda Reddy’s book, Group Play Interventions for Children: Strategies for Teaching Prosocial Skills. Following a brief introduction, the book includes four user-friendly sections, each of which can serve as a well-written, stand-alone essay. While the author successfully synthesizes the vast theoretical and research literature, she deserves praise for developing pragmatic interventions immediately applicable to the work of educational and counseling professionals. This text offers a great deal for practitioners, and it also complements the bookshelves of anyone interested in the study and development of play. 

Robyn M. Holmes is Professor of Psychology at Monmouth University. Her research interests range from children’s artwork and the play of special needs children to children’s social behavior during video game play and college student-athletes’ conceptions of work and play. She is the author of Fieldwork with Children and How Young Children Perceive Race and has contributed chapters to Play = Learning: How Play Motivates and Enhances Children’s Cognitive and Social-Emotional GrowthHandbook of Computer Game Studies, and several volumes in the Play & Culture Studies series. Articles by Holmes have appeared in Early Child Development and CareAmerican Anthropologist, and the Journal of Sport BehaviorSharon R. Liden is a practicing clinical psychologist and mental health supervisor in Lanai City, Hawaii. In addition, she serves as adjunct professor of graduate courses in group psychotherapy, existential and humanistic psychology, and child and adolescent psychology at Argosy University. She also served as a consulting psychologist for the reality television program SurvivorLisa M. Shin is an educational assistant for the Primary School Adjustment Project in Lanai City, Hawaii.

Angeline Lillard is Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and Director of the university’s Early Development Lab. Her research considers how children’s interactions with pretend play, fantasy, imagination, and media influence their cognitive and social development. Lillard is the author of Montessori: The Science behind the Genius and numerous articles and essays. She has contributed to the Blackwell Handbook of Cognitive Development, the Oxford Handbook of the Development of PlayThe Child: An Encyclopedic Companion, and other works. She has also lectured internationally and serves currently as Associate Editor of the Journal of Cognition and Development.

Evangeline E. Nwokah is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication and Learning Disorders at Our Lady of the Lake University. Trained academically in the United Kingdom and the United States, she has extensive clinical experience in England, Canada, and the United States and has taught in England, Nigeria, and America. She has written more than two dozen articles on early-childhood language and emergent literacy and is editor of Play as Engagement and Communication, volume 10 of the Play & Culture Studies series. Hui-Chin Hsu is Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Georgia. Her research considers the social-emotional development in parent-child interaction from infancy to preschool age and the role of culture in parenting efficacy. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including Infancy and Developmental Psychology, and she is coauthor of Change Processes in Interpersonal Relationships: Infant-Mother Communication in a Historical-Relational PerspectiveHope Gulker is Clinical Associate Professor and Codirector of Preschool Language Programs in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Purdue University. Her research considers music, affective development, and family participation in early-childhood settings. 

Phillip Prager is Lecturer in Digital Play and Aesthetics at the IT University of Copenhagen. His interdisciplinary approach interprets twentieth-century art through the lens of scientific research on creativity and play. He has worked extensively in both the film industry and academia and organized interactive exhibitions. His writings have appeared in Creativity Research Journal, Digital Creativity, and other publications.