Playful Writing

Could the way we play affect society? Could the rules-free version of US play lead to aggressive, a-social hyper-individuals fueling a “me-first” social Darwinism?

In relation to writing, though, I think play is important not only because it can invite engagement within the zone of proximal development, but because of its affordances (Gibson 1989). In this sense, I make a differentiation between “consequential” and “inconsequential” types of play (following Barab & Roth 2006, Barab, Sadler, Heiselt, Hickey, Zuiker 2006). For play to always afford engagement within a ZPD, the players must take their play as having real effects; their actions within the bounds of play must produce results that they perceive as having meaning. An outsider may see the play as all completely irrelevant, but that does not matter. What matters is the “-emic” perspective.

Take, for example, academics. Many students see the academic system and their daily classrooms as inconsequential. The school is a place different from “the real world,” grounded in abstract theory and idealism, not concrete problems and pragmatism. They thus do not fully engage with the problems and challenges presented to them, worrying more about how to “beat the system” of this artifice than actually accomplishing the tasks it has laid out for them. To this extent, we can say that learning does, indeed, occur. It may be very high level learning, indeed, but because it tries to step outside the realm of play, it is doomed to failure by the very system it seeks to figure out.

However, in consequential play, the player has a stake in the outcome of the game. She sees her actions as meaningful and may even see the rules as necessary, if not “natural.” This approximation of play and nature is important, since it is by this route that we often 1) devalue play in relation to academic or other forms of “work” and 2) fail to notice the ways play is socially organized. I will get to how consequential play affords engagement in a bit, First, though, let me elucidate this point about play and nature.

First, conventional play theory usually defines play as "not serious," opposed to "work," or a quality rather than a discrete activity. However, play theory and education have a long history. Playing is seen as a mode of learning, perhaps the mode by which we humans learn. However, there are some points to make here. First, defined as antithetical to work or other activities or qualities, play becomes a cultural construct. What is play in one culture or society is work in another. Even across individuals, this definition of play yields to relativism. Second, it is assumed that "play" is somehow a basic component of human development. This second point is potentially radical in its implications and I don't mean to disparage them. However, with this all too brief a sketch, we can see the naturalistic tendencies of the way "play" has been used in Western educational theory. Moreover, we can also see the problems this poses if we take play as a cultural construct.

So, do we need to revise play theory? Is play a strong basis for human development or just a weak one? Intuitively, I would say that play is, indeed, a fundamental attribute of learning and development in both humans and non-human animals. However, "play" might be redeemed as an activity is we put it in relation not to an objective set of criteria, but in relation to a surplus of meaning in an organism's environment. Thus, we arrive at Gibson's affordances: an environment always contains affordances for play, but those affordances are differential according to the organism's ability. A pen might contain affordances for grasping and marking surfaces, but if the organism has no appendage with which to grasp, the affordance is moot. Similarly, an optical illusion might contain affordances for tricking one's perception until one has seen the image enough to know the trick.
Once we are conscious of being played with, the game becomes inconsequential. What matters is the surplus of meaning -- the excess of meaning that we struggle to make sense of, yet must fail in our attempts. This is the real meaning of play and its real importance. With out such surplus, we react to a finite set rather than an infinite one. And a finite set can be manipulated and rigged.


oakleyses said...

christian louboutin outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, jordan shoes, coach outlet store online, oakley sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, gucci handbags, coach purses, true religion, red bottom shoes, coach outlet, nike free, christian louboutin, coach outlet, prada handbags, kate spade outlet online, oakley vault, nike air max, prada outlet, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp handbags, nike shoes, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban outlet, tory burch outlet, kate spade handbags, chanel handbags, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, true religion outlet, nike air max, louis vuitton, longchamp outlet online, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, louis vuitton outlet, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet store, michael kors outlet online, polo ralph lauren, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet

oakleyses said...

air max, burberry pas cher, lacoste pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, true religion jeans, nike roshe run, nike free pas cher, air jordan, north face, ralph lauren, air max pas cher, new balance pas cher, nike trainers, louis vuitton, barbour, lululemon, nike air force, louis vuitton pas cher, oakley pas cher, guess pas cher, ray ban pas cher, ray ban uk, nike free, vans pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, mulberry, ralph lauren pas cher, timberland, hermes pas cher, nike roshe, hollister, sac louis vuitton, hollister, louis vuitton uk, tn pas cher, north face pas cher, chaussure louboutin, longchamp pas cher, michael kors canada, nike air max, true religion outlet, longchamp, converse pas cher, michael kors uk, sac michael kors, scarpe hogan, nike air max, sac vanessa bruno

oakleyses said...

birkin bag, mcm handbags, canada goose, ugg soldes, lululemon outlet, giuseppe zanotti, new balance outlet, chi flat iron, hollister, ugg outlet, mont blanc pens, jimmy choo shoes, herve leger, ugg outlet, soccer jerseys, beats headphones, ugg, nike huarache, nfl jerseys, reebok shoes, abercrombie and fitch, ghd, uggs outlet, insanity workout, canada goose outlet, north face outlet, valentino shoes, longchamp, bottega veneta, p90x workout, wedding dresses, north face jackets, asics shoes, instyler ionic styler, soccer shoes, canada goose outlet, babyliss pro, uggs outlet, roshe run, uggs on sale, marc jacobs outlet, celine handbags, vans outlet, mac cosmetics, rolex watches, ugg boots, ferragamo shoes

oakleyses said...

toms outlet, swarovski jewelry, pandora jewelry, coach outlet, lancel, moncler, juicy couture outlet, pandora uk, moncler, hollister canada, canada goose outlet, hollister clothing, ray ban, oakley, moncler outlet, timberland shoes, baseball bats, canada goose pas cher, vans, gucci, air max, thomas sabo uk, moncler, montre femme, ugg, swarovski uk, louis vuitton canada, wedding dress, ralph lauren, parajumpers outlet, nike air max, uggs canada, hollister, moncler, links of london uk, canada goose uk, converse shoes, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, louboutin, iphone 6 case, canada goose, pandora charms, converse, moncler, supra shoes, moncler, karen millen, replica watches

Not always theoretical... not even always academic.. but always written..