Defining Play Title and Summary Discussion

Link back to General "Defining Play" page.

[MFY] The question "What is play?" seems as squishy as "What is beauty or What is truth?" Yet the answer might also be over-simply- Play is what you make it. Play, like all behavior, is an emergent property of an embodied again in a rich environment that affords construction of playful goals and playful actions. In a discussion with Kurt Squire (possible sympoiast I'd add to your list of names)...he once told me that anything can be play, if you make it so. Yet your question will serve well to provoke an educational issue close to my heart... namely, can what makes activities design to be playful, like videogames, become work? Such as if a 5th grade teacher assigned her students to play 5 hours of World of Warcraft each night and journal their experiences... wouldn't many of those students then experience this as homework, no play?

[Roger] Sounds great! Do you want to make the overture to Kurt? I'd certainly be happy to descend upon him out of the blue in my usual fashion, but you might be able to be more persuasive!

[Matthew] MFY, I see it in both ways. With the thought that anything can become play, I think about the times when I am bouncing a ball and all of a sudden, with no preconceived goal, except for shooting a basketball, I stumble upon something fun and enjoyable: a rhythmical, syncopated beat constructed with the ball, floor, my hands, and the basket. Doing the same process over and over again geneartes enjoyment, and in my opinion, play. Now, while I did this a few weeks ago, I started thinking about incorporating this into my classroom, teaching high school seniors Canterbury Tales. However, as the thoughts streamed through my mind, trying to formulate an idea of how to use rhythmical sounds in this way, I started to think about the flip side, would it be play to the student, or even fun? Have they even thought in that manner. The same thoughts crossed my mind when I thought about I still using the Beowulf game to teach the poem. Finally, I still have ideas to incorporate music into the classroom, with my weaker students, but the techniques I would use, while play, and work, to me, would not work, I think. For example, I have a very weak student who likes to rap, so I've thought about bringing my recording software to the school and allowing him to create beats and music; however, I'm a little nervous about doing this, going back to teh previous thought dealing with play and work.