Studies in play

There are several possible ways to approach a study in play as a phenomenon (see HdS, 1). These, somewhat concisely, include:

  • What basic pedagogical, psychological and social conditions are associated with play in relation to general human development?
  • What are the functions of play in relation to teachingand education - norms, roles and rules?
  • How can empirical research programmes be incorporated and carried out in play?
  • How can play be used in relation to learning, workand experience?

Common to most play theses is the idea that play is a means by which to achieve something else. It is less commonly seen as a naturally occurring form of human expression.

Toy researchers are usually motivated by general psychological, pedagogical and sociological theories and use terms such as id, ego, instinct, cognition, social culture, socialisation, etc.

Dramatists and pedagogical drama teachers, who are definitely involved with play, are motivated by theatrical theory and art history. They use terms such as idea, dialogue, characterisation, environment, event, tension, etc.

Between these two groups there are some intrinsically human forms of expression - such as imitation, insight, identification, imaginative capacity, fantasy and feeling which could be said to connect the two groups.  

Historical studies of play (see HdS, 1) suggest that play is always part of a specific cultural historical phenomenon and that play is always subject to external life conditions. A game in all the different variants in which it is played is always subject to an incalculable number of intercultural, ethnic, geographical, economic, political and social conditions.

Certain types of toys and games have not always had the same importance in all societies but, when certain games survive, it is children who elegantly hand them down from one generation to the next.

According to Aries (1975), the value and significance of children in different societies and historical eras has varied and the value and significance of their toys has changed. Over time, innumerable explanations have been attributed to the term/phenomenon and these have been affected by the traditional phenomenological attitudes and dependent on the needs of the different political systems and ideologies for suitable explanations.

In the past, the meaning of play has undergone frequent revision. According to Kreuzer (HdS, 1:7-29), the meaning of play is currently again the subject of revision. One way in which to explain play with toys while respecting the impressionist functions in children’s play is featured in a number of cultural and social anthropological doctrines of play and in the so-called ecological or eco-pedagogical doctrine.

On the basis of these doctrines, with this kind of a “relative” way of explaining play with toys and simultaneously relating them to the more traditional explanations, this book links up these explanations about toys and play:



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