...really good teaching is about not seeing the world the way that everyone else does...

"Good teachers perceive the world in alternative terms, and they push their students to test out these new, potentially enriching perspectives. Sometimes they do so in ways that are, to say the least, peculiar."
Mark Edmundson, "Geek Lessons" NYT, 2008

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The 3 R’s? A Fourth Is Crucial, Too: Recess

Published: February 23, 2009, New York Times

The best way to improve children’s performance in the classroom may be to take them out of it.

New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Game Design Grammar

What does it mean to talk of a grammar of game design?" asks Chris Bateman, Managing Director of International Hobo ("the leading consultancy in the field of game design and narrative services"). "And does specifying such a grammar give us an insight into the underlying structure of games, or a new method for approaching game design - or both? Because games vary from pure mathematical formalisms (at the ludic extreme) to behavioural descriptions (at the opposite extreme), any formal reductionistic system will either be focused primarily on the former, or require sufficient latitude to express practically infinite diversity. One such approach is to define a categorial grammar of game design."


Monday, 9 February 2009

b e a m - m e - up / THE NOWHERE DANCE

PROJECT LAUNCH / a work in progress 2009/10

b e a m - m e - up ONLINE ART MAGAZIN
with art, field studies and essays about space.


We invite you to THE NOWHERE DANCE

A performance at Alan Sondheim's Second Life exhibition "The
Accidental Artist"

Alan Sondheim: "We'll teleport people into an installation which has
been constructed over a period of eight months. It represents nothing of
architecture, fantasy, or surrealism; it's a space unlike anything in
the real world. It's difficult to move through, a field of alien processes
which has a life of its own. Sandy Baldwin and I will dance through and
around it - on the ground, in the air, and on the ocean floor. Part of
the dance will be based on learning to move around; part will be based on
adding to the clutter."

To access the performance site read more on:

Date of the performance: Wednesday, Feb 11
USA West Coast Time: 8 AM / US East Coast Time: 11 AM
Europe MEZ/CET: 5 PM / GB: 4 PM
Asia: Mumbai, Bangalore: 9.30 PM / Shanghai, Beijing: 12 PM / Tokio: 1


on the project b e a m - m e - up:

Our understanding of space is changing for generations. In the digital
age we use terms like Cyberspace, Globalization and World Wide Web, even
though we have hardly understood the old electro-spaces like power
supply systems, telephone and broadcasting. By means of audio-visual
transportation we conquer new spaces, which present themselves as both
picture space and space of action, place of signs and of real

With the online project beam me up we invite artists and authors from
different countries to concern themselves with space concepts in the
form of art contributions and essays.

Artists (realised and promised contributions)

Angela Bulloch, London / Abhishek Hazra, Bangalore / Samuel Herzog,
/ Hu Jie Ming, Shanghai / Esther Hunziker, Basel / jodi.org, Dordrecht
Knowbotic Research, Z*rich / Agnes Meyer-Brandis, K*ln / Alan Sondheim,

New York / Monica Studer & Christoph van den Berg, Basel / Carlo Zanni,

Milano / Li Zhen Hua, Beijing / More artist's contributions will be
uploaded during the coming months.

Curators / Authors

Sarah Cook, Newcastle / Estee Oarsed, Bangalore / Stefan Riekeles, Les
Jardins des Pilotes, Berlin / Annette Schindler, Basel / Zhang
Lansheng,Shanghai / NN. USA / Reinhard Storz, xcult.org (project director) /
Theguest curators are designated to each invite two to three artists and

Other scientific authors: Martin Brauen, NY / Christina Vagt, Berlin

...and on the highway people are offered a choice...

Lawrence Weiner: I am one of those lucky artists who has been able to remain in exactly the same position as a human being as when I first jumped onto the ice floe. And luckily people have dropped sandwiches and cigarettes on the iceberg along the way, so I can sort of sit there. Where I’d like to be tomorrow is where I am now, doing public installations about things that interest me. I’m doing one in Denmark which takes over this whole city. I’m building the whole piece out of cobblestones. It breaks right into the highway, and on the highway people are offered a choice between paper and stone, and water and fire. Every single child knows what it means. I don’t know if adults know any longer. Fire and water means joining the circus; paper and stone is to make yourself a stable set up in that society. The piece runs through the vestibule of a building into this enormous courtyard, and in this courtyard it says, “When in doubt, play tic-tac-toe and hope for the best.” And all through the town this slogan is reiterated. So what do you do when a society starts to destroy its circles? You play tic-tac-toe and you hope for the best, you don’t just sit there and watch

in Lawrence Weiner by Marjorie Welish
Bomb Magazine Issue 54 Winter 1996, ART

Friday, 6 February 2009

Are You Experienced?

by Ronald Jones
Published in Frieze Issue 120 Jan-Feb 2009

How designers are adopting the strategies of Conceptual art

In 1981 the art critic Robert Pincus-Witten differentiated for the first time between two kinds of Conceptual art: between what he called ontological Conceptualism and epistemological Conceptualism. Acknowledging the distinction between these two fundamental methodologies alters what one sees in the rear-view mirror, but it also opens up the opportunity to look forward, towards the emergence of a new discipline called ‘experience design’.


Thursday, 5 February 2009


CALL FOR PAPERS: 5th Global Conference CREATIVE ENGAGEMENTS - THINKING WITH CHILDREN, Friday 17th July - Sunday 19th July 2009. The fifth meeting of this global research project shall explore the many facets of creative engagement with children. Grounded in an inter-disciplinary perspective and with reference to historical and contemporary representations of childhood, this project will examine the complex issues which surround the notion and practices of creative engagement in the context of pedagogy and the curriculum, and in the face of frequently instrumental institutional imperatives. More generally, our work will also address the role of creativity in social interaction, with particular reference to children's development of life skills, autonomy and independence in an increasingly complex and demanding world. -- Papers, presentations, reports and workshops are invited on any of the following four focus areas: 1. Creativity, Engagement and Education; 2. Creativity, Pedagogy and Curriculum; 3. Critical and Cultural Thinking and Children; and 4. Engagement, Skills and Life Issues. The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers will be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 6th February 2009. If your paper is accepted for presentation at the conference, an 8 page draft paper should be submitted by Friday 5th June 2009. For further details about the project please visit here.

Toward an Integrated Theory of Play

by Joe Frost

Beginning with an extensive overview of theories, this paper proposes an integrative perspective on play. Early theories, which were proposed in the last half of the 19th century, included the surplus energy theory, the recapitulation theory, the instinct-practice theory, and the relaxation theory. More recent theories of play include Freud's and Erikson's psychoanalytic theories and Piaget's cognitive development theory. The limitations on these theories include the fact that: (1) They deal only with specific elements or a limited sampling of the broad concerns of play; (2) They involve single or limited variables; and (3) They are tied to the academic roles of their developers. Problems also exist in adequately defining play. The integrated theory of play proposed in this discussion attempts to lend depth and breadth to understanding play and to provide practitioners with a comprehensive, utilitarian, and unified view of the phenomenon. It is proposed that play be examined from at least five interrelated perspectives: characteristics, motives, processes, functions, and content. Each of these dimensions is considered across academic disciplines in terms of theory and the large volume of recent research on play. It is argued that a fully developed theory can provide comprehensive description of the qualities of play and open up creative possibilities for the design and testing of play environments. A bibliography of 100 references is attached.

Details here.


by Mary W. Moffitt

People tend to approach play from two different stances. One, they like it because it just happens to be more fun than most other things that human beings do. It follows, therefore, that we should have more of it, and it's a dull world if we do not. This was not a popular point of view in Puritan times, but it has increased its vogue in recent years.

Two, others argue that although play might seem to be a somewhat useless activity, that can't really be so. After all, human beings are evolutionary creatures and could hardly have survived by putting so much ' time and effort into an unfunctional activity; therefore, play and games must be useful. Unfortunately, it has been not so easy to show what play and games contribute as It has been to make this claim. Currently it is being argued that play and games contribute to learning, particularly of a cognitive sort. The article by Moffitt provides us with a valuable set of parallels between play and cognitive activity and lays the groundwork for testing some of the propositions about play vs usefulness.

One has to keep in mind however, that much of what Moffitt describes as play would be called straight exploration or learning by others. It could be that all these understandings are gained through exploration, and that play has. to do less with these cognitive phenomena than with the child's control over the variations that succeed these cognitive phenomena.


Lego takes on Monopoly with construct-your-own board games

Lego is entering the traditional world of board games this year when it launches a range of innovative build-your-own board games.

By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor
Published in the Daily Telegraph
Last Updated: 7:01PM GMT 04 Feb 2009

The 75-year-old Danish company, famed for its building blocks, is branching out by designing a range of toys that involve children constructing their own board games out of Lego building blocks.
Once they have completed the board and dice, the children can then play the games, before rebuilding the construction differently and playing a new version of the game.
The set of six games were unveiled at this week's Toy Fair in London, which showcased the gadgets, toys and games that will be on the shelves later this year.
Lego's move – taking on the giants of Scrabble and Monopoly – was the talk of the show, with toy experts saying the company has the potential to revive the fortunes of the flagging board game industry.
Last year, despite the success of Monopoly and Scrabble, board games struggled overall, with sales down 30 per cent in the UK.
Peter Jenkinson, editor of the website, Toyology, said: "Whilst most major board manufacturers concentrate on revamping ageing titles, Lego once again show their strength by breaking the mould. They have invented something completely new – and that rarely happens in the world of toys."



For reviews of new toys: Toyology.