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Playing with Fire 

Some kids playing with fire... Here in Anji, China, one of the latest additions to the playground is a working oven. The kids cook potatoes. If they want. The play is self-determined. This isn't the only place where the capacity of children to generate their own play, and assess their own risks is taken seriously. …

Posted 27 months ago by

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Objects of Play, Summer Course ’15 

In his seminal 1939 book, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture, Johan Huizinga places play as the central element in any flourishing society. In an increasingly gamified, but also risk adverse, educational environment and culture, how are we to think the role of play today? This course will take up both …

Posted 30 months ago by

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The Work of Toys 

I'll be teaching a course this summer on "Objects of Play," in the strange hope that if we looked at the things we play with, we might surprise ourselves. We'll be looking particularly at the large scale toys—ladders, oil barrels, etc.—at play in the early childhood education of Anji, China. I am reminded of my …

Posted 30 months ago by

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The Art of Play in China 

This is one of those things you need to see. Over the last several decades a pedagogy of play has been working itself out in rural China. The resonances with Western early childhood practices of learning and play are all the more striking, given that there is no direct connection. Even more interesting are the …

Posted 31 months ago by

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Play Already 

We can safely assert, even, that human civilization has added no essential feature to the general idea of play. —Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, 1949. And facing my other most similar faces, those of men, this despair turns in on itself in one last spasm and, with my nails digging into my palm, my fist clenches so as …

Posted 48 months ago by

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On Philosophy’s Lost Childhood 

One of the tragedies of the grownup is his loss of a sense of wonder, curiosity and playfulness, in short, of childhood. But these emotions are central to philosophical enquiry. Perhaps by starting philosophy earlier and seeing to it that it continues throughout school, grownups will rediscover suppressed reservoirs of playfulness and leisure. —Robert Mulvaney, …

Posted 74 months ago by

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