TOYS & USERS
This book is about modern toys - and about the people who play with them! While research into play enjoys broad acceptance in scientific circles, research into modern toys has yet to achieve this status and respect. Toys as such are as old as mankind but accepting research into them remains problematic.
Whenever he presents his theories, a toy researcher can expect to be confronted with forbearance and condescension from the academic world. And whenever this happens, the toy researcher is something like “the ugly duckling” in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale.
“Towards evening, the Duck came to a little miserable peasant’s hut. This hut was so dilapidated that it did not know onwhich side it should fall; and that’s why it remained standing. The storm whistled round the duckling in such a way that the poor creature was obliged to sit down, to stand against it; and the tempest grew worse and worse. Then the Duckling noticed that one of the hinges of the door had given way, and the door hung so slanting that the Duckling could slip through the crack into the room; and it did so.”
Anyone who knows the tale of the ugly duckling knows that the duckling was to be greeted only with scorn and derision by “the old woman”, “the tom cat” and “the hen” in “the old hut”. The duckling was ordered to lay eggs because the ability to produce eggs was most highly regarded in the world/house. The
fairy tale continues:
“And so the Duckling was admitted on trial for three weeks; but no eggs came. And the Tom Cat was master of the house and the Hen was the lady, and always said “We and the world” for she thought they were half the world, and by far the better half. The Duckling thought one might have a different opinion, but the Hen would not allow it.
“Can you lay eggs?”, she asked.
“Then you’ll have the goodness to hold your tongue.”
And the Tom Cat said, “Can you curve your back, and purr, and give out
“Then you cannot have any opinion of your own when sensible people are
I cannot resist the temptation to compare the old hut with toy research - which remains standing because it doesn’t know which way it should fall. The old lady, the cat and the hen are just characters in a fairy tale, not to be compared with real people in the toy research hut. For this preface is just a game with a fairy tale and research - into toys.