...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

Thursday, 5 February 2009


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.


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