iPlay no more? Has childhood play been changed by technology?

I recently ran across this interesting study, Children’s Playground Games and Songs in the New Media Age (PDF). Honestly, I don’t remember where or how it came up, but it was one of those things that I had no idea people even studied formally, but once reading it, seemed impossible not to want to know more.

It’s a wonderful antidote to some of the silly pronouncements of late that childhood is “toxic”, that children have no capacity for real play anymore, and of couse pointing to technology as the ogre in this sad myth.

However, this study disputes those claims.

“Needless  to  say,  serious  research  in  this  field  has  usually  discovered  the  opposite.  Our  own project, found  that  play  was  alive  and  well,  more  diverse  in  some  respects  than  ever,  and  drawing  on resources  which  had  both  a  long  historical  lineage  as  well  as  ones  from  contemporary  media cultures.”

This is really a fascinating study, with a website with digital recordings, ethnographic studies, collections of the games, a documentary film,  and interestingly, a panel of youth who provided input and commentary on the study.

Hope you read it!


The war on children’s playgrounds

“Children rise to risk,” says Joan Almon, executive director of the U.S. Alliance for Childhood. “Give them some genuine risk and they quickly learn what their limits are, and then they expand their limits.” The problem is: If kids never encounter even tiny risks, they never develop that thing we call common sense.

via The war on children’s playgrounds – Children – Salon.com

Children rise to all kinds of challenges when they risk failure, make mistakes and figure out how to rise above them. It’s the same intellectually as physically, If students are not taking risks intellectually, they will never push the limit, and they will develop the habit of complacency. The special thing about technology, and especially about creativity tools, is that they allow children to take intellectual risks with ideas, through multiple media and approaches that they can control and master.

Constructivist Celebration @ NYSCATE

Well, it’s official, there will be a Constructivist Celebration in partnership with the annual NYSCATE (New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) conference in Rochester, NY.

Strong National Museum of Play
Rochester, NY
Sunday, Nov 22, 2009

The Constructivist Celebration is an opportunity for you to let your creativity run free with the world’s best open-ended software tools and enthusiastic colleagues who share your commitment to children, computing, creativity and constructivism. You might think of this stimulating event as a spa day for your mind and soul!

Best of all, the Constructivist Celebration @ NYSCATE is being held at the Strong National Museum of Play, a great setting that should prove inspiring and fun.

The day kicks off with a keynote, by Gary Stager on “Creative Computing”. By the way, for you Stager fans, this will be the only chance to see Gary at NYSCATE this year.

Then you will enjoy five hours of creativity on your own laptop using open-ended creativity software provided by consortium members FableVision, Inspiration, LCSI, and Tech4Learning. Representatives of the Constructivist Consortium will be there to assist with your project development.

Plus you get to keep the software and have a fabulous lunch!

For more details and registration, see the Constructivist Consortium registration website. (If you want to register for BOTH the pre-conference celebration and NYSCATE at the same time, click here to go to the NYSCATE website. You will be asked to become a NYSCATE member, but this is free!)

I’ll be co-leading this event, so I hope to see you there!