The Theory of Play

Summary

For Neva Boyd, play is its own end. Further, she sees play as transcending cultural and historical lines and believes that human play has the same characteristics in primitive man and in modern man.

Beyond this, she finds play to be not only a voluntary activity but also a biological necessity. In effect, a human cannot “not play.” Yet, she distinguishes between play that is aimless or rudimentary and play that is directed and properly structured to maximize results.

Play takes many forms‑ songs, dances, games, drama, sports, and various arts. Chiefly, this refers to her view of play as behavior that does have an indirect effect on routine life. Miss Boyd examines this concept in connection with her use of the term “play behavior.” Play is a joyful experience. Play takes him into another world of its own creation, disregarding conventional behavior yet subject to a special set of social controls. Withal, play is not merely amusement or escape from reality, says Miss Boyd Social values are found and observed in play that are unlike any in other behavior, for play has its own rules and it provides incentive for one’s best behavior and expression of one’s ultimate capacity. Play requires intelligence, imagination, aesthetic feeling, sensitivity, spontaneity, originality, and productivity. At some length, she develops her thesis that play provides for ethical education through pleasurable disciplined behavior in moral education. Moreover, play call be a powerful toot for correction of deviant behavior. Miss Boyd’s view here is that the deviant behavior should not be discussed with the child. In particular she insists that play has its own rewards and that prizes or undue recognition tend to rob play of its true value, which she holds Io be self‑realization.

In the final section of this paper Miss Boyd discusses the transfer value of play. She uses the term “transformation” to describe the process through which values of play become a part of wider social behavior. Play helps the child translate and express his experience.

Activity in which reciprocal responsiveness via play is dominant provides a basis of unconsciously acquired understanding of self and others. The real point is the influence of play on human learning and the development of the human being socially, mentally and physically. In the early period of their existence, the settlements provided social activities in the nature of play, programs ranging from nursery schools for young children and athletic games for youth to social clubs for youth and adults. Within this range of cultural education organic normality and social ethics were prompted as by-products of play activities.

The schools at that time were not wholly unmindful of the educational value of play and a play program comprised of games was introduced experimentally in a public school system inMassachusetts. The experiment was not successful, probably because of the rigidity of the play activities as taught by teachers of physical education, which largely prevented the emergence of spontaneity in the games and play and also because of the prevalent emphasis on physical activities in the play curriculum. Formal education has utilized in some small degree the form play activities but has in its individuated and competitive system failed to preserve the spontaneity that gives the play activity vitality and makes it play and art and therefore gives it organism-as-whole value.

The writer had observed children at play in the early social settlements and had noted their failures in their efforts to create their own play as well as their occasional happyfiying successes.

Play takes innumerable forms and varied content. The play of a human being has its beginnings in his dynamic impulsive behavior, which becomes play when he employs it for his own satisfaction.

Many attempts have been made to define play none of which are wholly satisfactory and yet most of them state facts about play.

Experience reveals the difficulty many adults and even children have to get into play psychologically and yet there is no genuine play without it. Play is a universal form of behavior common to man. Play is a way of behaving and therefore play behavior is a common form of human behavior. The play impulse finds expression in many forms of behavior and is indulged in for the satisfaction it affords in itself. The essential factor in play is the processes of playing. Simple play behavior patterns are easily understood when one realizes that human bodies are similarly constructed and therefore function similarly whether that of primitive man or civilized. Play is likely to remain rudimentary unless it takes place in groups.

play for aesthetic satisfaction the process of playing affords:

Play stems from man and presses for expression. Perhaps no phase of human behavior is so spontaneous as play. Pleasure, enjoyment, imagination, fun, and so on, are sometimes offered as the marks that distinguish play from other forms of behavior. Through many generations man has created, throughout the world, patterns, which are expressive of human play behavior.

The structures an material function of the body not only produce a rich array of play activities but include aesthetics, social behavior and social relationships, etc. Throughout the world and through eons of time, play behavior has found expression in similar play patterns. This has resulted in a rich production of play activities. Like many forms of primitive human behavior the outward expression of play has become conventionalized play and playing, dramatic acting, drama, sports, and the graphic and plastic arts. Play behavior can find expression in both crude and refined forms among all peoples.

The play of each involves similar patterns of play behavior.

It is quite probable that al of us are able to determine whether the behavior which we observe is play or whether it is work or behavior of some other sort than play. Because of this evident difference between play and other forms of behavior, in this discussion, the term “play behavior” is used to refer to play.

Play Behavior

This last is play behavior. Play is a form of behavior native to man.

Play is a dynamic irradiant, organism-as-whole experience and like all behavior it can be evoked by stimuli of various sorts. Observation of play behavior in man shows it to be different from all other forms of behavior. Play behavior employs many mediums of expression varying in character at various times of life but it is distinct behavior different from other forms. Play behavior has produced some units of behavior or patterns that are called dances, games, sports, drama, stories, etc. These play activates were produced in the play life of common people. All forms of play activities are the products of Spontaneity. Play behavior is essentially spontaneous, psychophysical and psychosocial. Play behavior requires stimuli and this comes largely in the response to the play behavior of others, or at least to their sympathetic attention.

The organization and structure forms of play behavior expression, such as the dances, games, etc., arc the product of the ages. Folk play activities such as folk games; dances, etc. are produced under primitive social conditions and in the functioning of the organism-as-a-whole play behavior. If these activities are to serve their best purpose educationally (and therefore therapeutically) social informality and spontaneous play behavior must be preserved. Children, youth, and many adults respond readily to play tinder such conditions. Failure to preserve the spirit of spontaneous play behavior in play activities inheres in the anachronism of the sophisticated style of formal teaching.

(a) Spontaneity

Perhaps the most distinctive character of play is the player’s feelings of organismic, organism-as-a-whole irradiance. Spontaneous irradiance of feeling is that essential characteristic of all true play whatever form it may take. Relatively few adults actually play but a sort of residue of, the joyful play experienced in a person’s childhood and youth remains with them always and flavors life as nothing else does. Without childhood play the “joy of living” is likely to be lacking.

Play must have some degree of exhilaration. Why, it may be asked, are spontaneity and exhilaration great essentials of play? Striving for excellence in play activity prevents freedom and spontaneity. Records of play of both primitive and civilized peoples, particularly children, indicate that the simple forms of play, or play patterns, arise spontaneously among all human beings. True play is always “happifying.” Play means happiness. Play, like many other things, is best appreciated by seeing children who were without it. Children without play are not happy. Happiness involves many things even to a child. It is this inner feeling of play the child must learn. Once a child learns the “spirit of play”, every new situation turns up numberless new associations and abilities.

Another distinctive character of play is its extroversiveness, that is, it frees the player from the sense of self and at the same time projects him psychologically into the play activity. Play centers interest outside of self. This ability to create and simultaneously play a role in a play situation is a primitive way of experiencing the delightful feeling of freedom from self. Observers of children’s play describe the players as being completely free from self and it might be added as “being wholly in their play”.

Play in all its forms is a complete contrast to conventional behavior and legitimizes originality, giving it full release, for play creates its own world. Play is that form of social organization through which original nature is channeled most unhampered, and yet the play patterns of a particular cultural group are not a violation of social customs but rather a preserver of them.

Values in Play

It is well to remember that the greatest value of play is enjoyment. Play develops the capacity to enjoy as well as the resources necessary to enjoyment. Play also contributes to sound intellectual achievement.

Play creates happy emotional condition of the organism-as-a-whole. Play involves social values, as does no other behavior. The spirit of play develops social adaptability, ethics, mental and emotional control, and imagination. These are the more complex and adjustments a child learns through play. In play, there are adjustments to new situations constantly. Play experience can prepare the person for purposefulness in non-play activities, for true play creates the incentive to use one’s best ability. Through play a person can develop a pattern of self-reliance and self-confidence. Well-chosen play activities have potentially unique value seldom understood or actualized. In the process of play, new powers emerge, such as bodily coordination, and aesthetic sensitivity. New values are experienced by the player, such as new social obligation to contribute to the maintenance of the common project undertaken by play group. Play activities yield immediate satisfaction to the players and the results of the effort are certain.

Play in the sense of function activates and heightens organismic tones and animates the player as he projects himself imaginatively and behaviorally into the activity and helps create the play situation. True play is its own value for the value of play is in play itself. The value of any play activity for the individual person depends on many factors:

Chronological and mental age, previous play experiences

The selection of play activity in relation to the players and the leadership given in the playing of it;

Play and art use the great essentials-intelligence, imagination, aesthetic feeling, sensitivity, spontaneity, originality, and productivity. The basic factor in true play and true art is aesthetic sensitivity. While the raw material of sensitivity is the same for play and art, the form of expression is different and it would be regrettable were expression limited to play and the expression of the arts neglected in the development of the child.

It is safe to assume that all children need discipline in thinking, in social behavior, in conformity to social custom. The formal teaching of social behavior including moral and ethical education by verbal means is inadequate. Education through the medium of actual social activity develops and gives expression to personal resources and moral normality.

The child gradually learns right and wrong, good and bad, in the play situation. In play, there is pleasurable disciplined behavior in moral education. There is ethical education involved in play activities and play situations. The play patterns of a particular cultural group are preservers of social customs. Children play family life, shop keeping, etc., patterned after the culture of the group, but they also exhibit courage, endure pain unflinchingly, respect the rights of others and willingly abide by the agreements made in play. The spirit of play develops social adaptability and child ethics.

Only when ethical behavior and law observance are voluntary is ethical education complete. Out of the experience of playing games even young children then to formulate rules for behavior. The teacher or play leader does not grant this demand but the child who has prestige among the children may be chosen for desirable roles in excess or exchange of other children. This behavior is a long-term demonstration of social justice and ethical moral behavior. The child becomes social unconsciously. At best, children are punished with the intention of improving them or correcting their behavior. Correction of undesirable behavior is best carried on via self-determined action in a coordinated activity by action, which permits the child to formulate moral judgments and conclusions.  The child can be held responsible for much of his behavior and denied common privileges when he violates the right to these, and they should be taken away or the child should be helped to correct his behavior.

To expect a child or adult with a past of deviant behavior patterns to transform verbally presented dictum [sic] of social conformity is questionable methodology in either education or reeducation; both must be achieved primarily by the child’s own social behavior. That social behavior must eventually give him sufficient satisfaction to orient him toward socially acceptable behavior and away from the specific deviant behavior. Positive Experience

(b) Negative Experience

Play and Behavior Change

In the whole field of social work and that of education as well, there is urgent need of facts regarding the function of play and recreation in the education and reeducation of children, adolescents and adults. More or less permanent changes are known to have been wrought in persons through [sic] play activities in school children, normal and subnormal, hospitalized children, in youth, mentally ill youth and adults. While play is of great value in institutions concerned with the treatment of problem and anti-social behavior, or deviant behavior it is also a value in bringing about behavior change in all children, youth and adults afflicted with personality problems. Play, particularly the playing of organized games, has proven to be a dynamic process at once correctional, disciplinary, and developmental. In organized play or social groups especially those of children and adolescent youth, many individual personality problems are revealed and resolved. Many individual children are helped out of some distressing condition by play. Play may result in a release of the blockages by replacing them, the child developing out of them, or by outgrowing them.

Froe example, there is Wally, physically handicapped, who changed his anti-social behavior after having a play experience in dramatics. While providing the individual with the kind of play experience that will correct faulty or problem behavior and compensate for the results of neglect or misadventure, guiding play experience of children or youth with problems is not psychiatric treatment. Disciplined by play activity, perhaps a game, which is free and unregimented, the unconscious is released in play and its deviant overt aspects are subjected to the social judgment of the other players which may or may not bring it to the consciousness of the child or youth in question, or it may be released and dissolved unconsciously in the healthy impersonal activity. Play tends to take the manifest and potential person forward not merely to correct his deviance.

Both work and play can be used therapeutically. In both work and play, the emotional satisfaction and the overt results achieved in each reinforce each other. In play, the player proves to himself and others what he can do. In mental illness as in normal health, work and play constitute two sources of satisfaction for both emotional and overt results.

Problem behavior falls into types and is related to age categories. Young children frequently reveal symptoms of problem behavior, such as too great dependency on eating, thumb sucking, use of pacifiers, etc. Various forms of play are conducive to lessening this type of dependence. Players with normal development and social experience progress in depth and expansion through both repetition and variety of play activities with freedom and order. Also what may be called personality or character attributes become increasingly stabilized in play. An egotistic person finds difficulty in getting into play activities imaginatively. Children can be freed from self-reference by playing games with other children. While in true play children almost invariably share in the joy of another who has made a good play, they are unlikely to accord similar goodwill to a “show-off”. While games are likely to be a good beginning in the freeing of children from self-reference, dramatization of stories and other forms of dramatic play would also be desirable, even though this more advanced play might require varied experience over a period of time.[GS1]

Problem Behavior

The term “build-up” best expresses the most effective treatment of some forms of problem behavior, in fact treatment of many forms. It should be remembered that problem behavior of a serious nature in children and often in adults frequently is “outgrown”. Children and adults frequently grow out of problem behavior, just as the body renews itself. When play activities are coordinated with the readiness of potentialities in children, correction and “out-grown” is brought about positively by the process of the actualization of potentialities.

A teacher may personally get good response without changing a child’s character. She may personally influence a child and change his behavior overtly but it may not have reformed him. The social group can be a factor in bringing about change to desirable behavior. Schools, children’s hospitals and other agencies have proven that organized programs and well-selected play activities have been both preventive and corrective of deviant behavior in children. Lawlessness in children can best be corrected in social group activities.

Negative Influences in Play

While the values in play are many and play activities and the experiences therein are essential in the growth and development of children, play does not always bring good results. There is a kind of play that separates, sets us in conflict with each other in contrast to play that draws us together.

An overemphasis on winning defeats other possible values in play. Stress put upon the structure and technique of a play activity by the play leader or teacher tends to prevent the release of organic elements essential to creativity and expression of any kind.

Fun is the essence of the spirit of play but when the pretense of fun is “played up”, it tends to kill the natural vitality of play. Pretense of fun kills real play.[GS2]

Negative attitudes brought into play activities and play projects, if not checked, destroy the value of play for the players. In play, a person proves his ability and thereby convinces himself of it. It may result in farcing in play.

Among the factors of great influence on the value of play is the quality of the content of the activities. Play utilizes the while person and organism-as-a-whole activates the whole.[GS3]  The essential factor in play is the process.

In true play, whatever the particular play activity, the players spontaneously project themselves behaviorally and psychologically into the activity for the satisfaction the process of playing affords them.

The play behavior attitude of play is this ability to project oneself into a play activity and voluntarily act consistently with the requirements of the play situation.

True play requires a unique form of self-determined, spontaneous play behavior which lasts only as long as the player’s psychological integrity holds out. When the player repudiates the challenge of the play situation imaginatively and mentally withdraws from the game or play situation, he ceases to play and no longer maintains the spontaneous imaginative physiological participation which is the unique essential of the function of the spirit of play, even though he may continue to act overtly in maintaining the letter of the game or activity.

Play comprises attitudes and situations. Play is a continuous circulatory process or reaction. In play, this is the individual’s self-selected situation stimulation and his self-selected action. Playing in a group is a process of individual behavior taking place in a problem-solving situation, which tends to make the situation and his action intelligible to the player.

In play, all that a child or person is by inheritance and learning may come to expression. Whatever a player expresses in play, he assimilates just as he assimilates the milk he drinks. Play in itself is an innate tendency serving as a natural impetus to everything in a child. In the function of playing various aspects of play behavior become organized into problems. In play activities the participants play roles. If is a drama he acts consistently within the frame of the play.

 

The Theory of Play

ByNevaBoyd

 

 

Editor’s Commentary (Paul Simon)

 

Although this paper has been prepared by Miss Boyd, it had not been put in final form for publication. In the interests of clarity, the editor has rearranged some of the material.

 

In this paper, written during her post‑retirement years, Miss Boyd sought to bring together a summation of her theory of play as it had been developed across her years of practice and education. She discusses the concept of play, values, behavior change, and other principles.

 

For Neva Boyd, play is its own end. Its essence is psychological involvement and spontaneous activity for its own meaning. She sees play as a universal form of behavior, not alone limited to Homo sapiens but also to various forms of animal life. Further, she sees play as transcending cultural and historical lines and believes that human play has the same characteristics in primitive man and in modern man.

 

Beyond this she finds play to be not only a voluntary activity but a biological necessity. In effect, a human cannot “not play.” Yet she distinguishes between play that is aimless or rudimentary and play that is directed and properly structured to maximize results.

 

Play takes many forms‑ songs, dances, games, drama, sports, and various arts. The forms tend to be the social products of given cultures, but the characteristics are universal. Chiefly, this refers to her view of play as behavior that does have an indirect effect on routine life. Miss Boyd examines this concept in connection with her use of the term “play behavior.” She suggests that play behavior patterns are Common from culture to culture and in civilization regardless of changes that may have occurred in the “work” requirements of mankind. Variations in ethnic folkways are nonetheless products of spontaneity, creativity, exhilaration, and organism‑as‑a‑whole behavior.

 

Play is a joyful experience. It frees the player from ;I sense of self and projects him psychologically into a pleasurable activity. Play takes him into another world of its own creation, disregarding conventional behavior yet subject to a special set of social controls. Withal, play is not merely amusement or escape from reality, says Miss Boyd Social values are found and observed in play that are unlike any in other behavior, for play has its own rules and it provides incentive for one’s best behavior and expression of one’s ultimate capacity. Play requires intelligence, imagination, aesthetic feeling, sensitivity, spontaneity, originality, and productivity. Beyond this, play enables us to see the incongruous as funny, thereby developing it)” sense of humor. Touching this aspect only too briefly, Miss Boyd notes it is not unusual for a child of three to evince a sense of humor

 

At some length she develops her thesis that play provides for ethical education through pleasurable disciplined behavior in moral education. Particularly in childhood, when play provides a community one can understand and influence or and the rules of which he can accept, are social justice and conscience developed. Moreover, play call be a powerful toot for correction of deviant behavior. Miss Boyd’s view here is that the deviant behavior should not be discussed with the child. In fact it should riot even be brought to his attention. She suggests that ”probing into the personal life in search of problem behavior” evokes guilt feelings and fear of reprisal. She believes that play provides release and re‑education and thus correction, adding that it is preferable for a child to look back on his bad behavior and rejoice in having overcome it. She also believes that deviance may be outgrown, often without the individual’s awareness of its existence. She opposes punishment on the grounds that it centers attention on offender and contributes nothing toward the solution of the problem. Instead. She proposes a positive build‑up in a person through provision of game and play activities designed to strengthen the concept of self. In this respect play activities may be seen as analogous to reinforcement theory or other ego‑building procedures consonant with today’s ego psychology and behavior modification.

 

Although she uses such terms as conditioning and behavior modification,” Miss Boyd does not subscribe to either traditional or neo‑behaviorism, as such is reflected in the writings of Watson,Hull, or Skinner.  In particular she insists that play has its own rewards and that prizes or undue recognition tend to rob play of its true value, which she holds Io be self‑realization. While she agrees that winning is important in competitive games, she sees awards as overemphasizing competition and creating an abyss between winner and loser: tending to make more of a place for those who excel and less of a place for those who lose. This inevitably discourages the minority and decreases the good will that should be present in all competition.

 

In the final section of this paper Miss Boyd discusses the transfer value of play. She uses the term “transformation” to describe the process through which values of play become a part of wider social behavior. She bases this approach oil her concept of the wholeness of the organism, the capacity to generalize and to abstract. She sees this as I two‑way process Children transform what they see in life into play and transform what they experience in play into life situations. Play helps the child translate and express his experience. However, she does not mean that direct transfer of specific behavior is necessarily carried over but rather that improved organism‑as‑whole functioning contributes to the energy and resources that put into other activity.

 

It should be noted that she felt “that there are potentials in every child, youth‑even adults‑ which may not be indicated by the current manifestation or expression but are undeveloped. The worker (leader) needs to function with faith in this undeveloped potential.”

 

 

 

The purpose of the author is to share with educators and leaders of children, youth and adults the potential resources common to mankind, which can best be realized through the medium of play.

Activity in which reciprocal responsiveness via play is dominant provides a basis of unconsciously acquired understanding of self and others. Such play activities serve not only of a means of creating universality and humanizing sensitivity, but also as a means of giving organized constructive expression.

The medium of expression and the degree of unconsciousness, interpersonal reciprocity evoked among the players influences the development of character.

Our concern at the moment is with this development and its implications for the evolution of human character and a social being. The real point is the influence of play on human learning and the development of the human being socially, mentally and physically. Play activities carried on in groups stimulate empathy, emulation, effort, competition, cooperation, purpose, etc., and provide visible results of one’s own efforts as well as learning by seeing one’s failures and successes and those of others.

Human living is not departmentalized, each department having it’s own peculiar basis. We shall find social living to be the foundation of every aspect Of man’s being regardless of how many specializations are developed, every aspect if valid, will be based on the unity of social living.

Specialists who view social living from various aspects may deal only with what kills within that point of view. Education, however, must deal with the whole person and with a range of variables which file specialist may ignore. Somehow the way must be found to make whole, theoretically, the man the specialists have taken apart if the teacher is to be given an outlook that it is the facts of the fluidity of childhood.

Economics, political science, sociology, medicine law and social science stem from social living and man’s efforts at problem solving. Self-maintenance and progress are the results of this problem-solving propensity of man. This is a cooperative process of borrowing and incorporating into his own living the achievements of his forebears and contemporaries.

It was in the early settlements, not in the schools, that cultural activities such as the arts, drama, music, etc., were experimentally prompted often by gifted professional men and women who in general served without monetary compensation.

The earlier of these neighborhood social center, called social settlements were established first inEnglandand later in theUnited States, and attracted persons of similar background and character as volunteer workers. Under such leadership it was inevitable that the settlement house should become a cultural center with emphasis on play activities for children and diversional social activities for youth and adults.

In the early period of their existence, the settlements provided social activities in the nature of play, programs ranging from nursery schools for young children and athletic games for youth to social clubs for youth and adults. Within this range of cultural education organic normality and social ethics were prompted as by-products of play activities.

The schools at that time were not wholly unmindful of the educational value of play and a play program comprised of games was introduced experimentally in a public school system inMassachusetts. The experiment was not successful, probably because of the rigidity of the play activities as taught by teachers of physical education, which largely prevented the emergence of spontaneity in the games and play and also because of the prevalent emphasis on physical activities in the play curriculum. Formal education has utilized in some small degree the form play activities but has in its individuated and competitive system failed to preserve the spontaneity that gives the play activity vitality and makes it play and art and therefore gives it organism-as-whole value.

It was in the settlements that the writer developed a lifetime interest in the educational value of play as well as in providing education, initially in a private school, for promotion though training of play leadership as a profession. The writer had observed children at play in the early social settlements and had noted their failures in their efforts to create their own play as well as their occasional happyfiying successes.

To understand play, it must be considered not only as expressed by children in games and youth in sports, but as basically humanistic and cultural in the broadest sense. If play is thought of as comparable to the irradiance of a brilliant jewel it will be given a truer interpretation that were a definition attempted.

Play takes innumerable forms and varied content. It begins in early infancy and undergoes changes progressively in form and content, as do other aspects of growth and development. The play of a human being has its beginnings in his dynamic impulsive behavior, which becomes play when he employs it for his own satisfaction.

In the attempt to define play one realizes that it is difficult to define the obvious. To the observer there is no difficulty in detecting the difference between play and other forms of behavior, but the verbalization of the points of distinction is difficult. Many attempts have been made to define play none of which are wholly satisfactory and yet most of them state facts about play.

My own definition is that to play is to transport oneself psychologically into an imaginatively set up situation and to act consistently within it, simply for the intrinsic satisfaction one has in playing. Experience reveals the difficulty many adults and even children have to get into play psychologically and yet there is no genuine play without it. The essence of all play lies in its spontaneous creation for the pleasure of the process affords the players in the fun of playing. When this essence is lacking, only the semblance of the play activity may exist and this is not play.

Play is a universal form of behavior common to man. Play is a way of behaving and therefore play behavior is a common form of human behavior. The play impulse finds expression in many forms of behavior and is indulged in for the satisfaction it affords in itself. The essential factor in play is the processes of playing. The value of play is in itself, not in acclaim or evaluation, monetary or otherwise, of its outward form.

Simple play behavior patterns are easily understood when one realizes that human bodies are similarly constructed and therefore function similarly whether that of primitive man or civilized. What we can observe but cannot explain is the propensity to play any more that the impulse to walk can be explained.

There the evidence that children cut off from human society play, but their play remains crude or rudimentary and takes the form of animals among which they live and the bodily functioning may be contrary to its structure as it is when such children run on all fours instead of in an upright position.

These facts suggest that play if it develops at all in complete social isolation remains as rudimentary as the pattern set by the animal environment. Not only is that evident as judged by the records of feral children but it implies that play is a product of association in groups.

Play is likely to remain rudimentary unless it takes place in groups.

Human intelligence finds expression in two distinct forms:

  1. play for aesthetic satisfaction the process of playing affords:
  2. the more matter of fact expressions in purpose to achieve desired ends.

Play stems from man and presses for expression. It is extroversive or expressive. Perhaps no phase of human behavior is so spontaneous as play. Pleasure, enjoyment, imagination, fun, and so on, are sometimes offered as the marks that distinguish play from other forms of behavior. Through many generations man has created, throughout the world, patterns, which are expressive of human play behavior.

The structures an material function of the body not only produce a rich array of play activities but include aesthetics, social behavior and social relationships, etc. Throughout the world and through eons of time, play behavior has found expression in similar play patterns. This has resulted in a rich production of play activities. Like many forms of primitive human behavior the outward expression of play has become conventionalized play and playing, dramatic acting, drama, sports, and the graphic and plastic arts. All these activities can be performed in a wide range extending from simple forms to the higher arts befitting the abilities of peoples and individuals of all degrees of intelligence and proficiency. Play behavior can find expression in both crude and refined forms among all peoples.

Play activities such as song, dance, drama, games and sports are largely the social products of many cultures, and in their unstudied form have come to be classified as folkways and judged to be of purer quality than are the more calculatedly and intellectually produced forms. All the common humanistic behavior that created these forms of play is potentially present though the forms are changed and possibly elaborated and refined as the dance or game passes from one ethnic group to another.

The simpler forms of play based on the playful use of the physical body, such as running, jumping, climbing, throwing, swimming, and the playful use of the senses such as identification of sounds, color, sensation, are indigenous to all primitive and civilized peoples. Although susceptible to change in elaboration and refinement of humanistic characteristics as peoples advance culturally, the structural characteristics of the play persist, even though the players of one ethnic group may play a far more complex form stemming from similar roots than does another group. The play of each involves similar patterns of play behavior.

It is quite probable that al of us are able to determine whether the behavior which we observe is play or whether it is work or behavior of some other sort than play. Because of this evident difference between play and other forms of behavior, in this discussion, the term “play behavior” is used to refer to play.

Play Behavior

Human beings everywhere behave in two distinctly different ways. They function in ways that have to do with routine living and they behave in ways that have nothing to do with routine life. This last is play behavior. Play is a form of behavior native to man.

Play is a dynamic irradiant, organism-as-whole experience and like all behavior it can be evoked by stimuli of various sorts. Observation of play behavior in man shows it to be different from all other forms of behavior. The basic distinction is that it is spontaneous and is indulged in by the players solely for immediate intrinsic satisfaction.

Play behavior employs many mediums of expression varying in character at various times of life but it is distinct behavior different from other forms. Play behavior has produced some units of behavior or patterns that are called dances, games, sports, drama, stories, etc. These play activates were produced in the play life of common people. Because human beings are so similar in spite of their differences, these Play behavior are similar enough so that they have been diffused, taken over from once country to another, or from the primitive to the civilized and vice versa. For while every ethnic group produces its own distinctive folkways and each has distinctive characteristics they are all products of common factors in human life and serve to give expression to such.

All forms of play activities are the products of Spontaneity. Play behavior is essentially spontaneous, psychophysical and psychosocial. It encompasses gestural reciprocation and repartee.

Human play behavior ranges from mere bodily movement, such as gamboling about similar to that of a young animal, to the highly intellectual function characteristic of a game of chess or bridge.

The earliest evidence of playfulness is the infant’s response to the parents’ playful loving stimulus. Play behavior requires stimuli and this comes largely in the response to the play behavior of others, or at least to their sympathetic attention.

The organization and structure forms of play behavior expression, such as the dances, games, etc., arc the product of the ages. Folk play activities such as folk games; dances, etc. are produced under primitive social conditions and in the functioning of the organism-as-a-whole play behavior. If these activities are to serve their best purpose educationally (and therefore therapeutically) social informality and spontaneous play behavior must be preserved. Children, youth, and many adults respond readily to play tinder such conditions. Failure to preserve the spirit of spontaneous play behavior in play activities inheres in the anachronism of the sophisticated style of formal teaching.

(a) Spontaneity

Perhaps the most distinctive character of play is the player’s feelings of organismic, organism-as-a-whole irradiance. Spontaneous irradiance of feeling is that essential characteristic of all true play whatever form it may take. It would also seem to be an essential of all true art including the art of living. It is sometimes said that persons lacking the “joy of living” were never young. Relatively few adults actually play but a sort of residue of, the joyful play experienced in a person’s childhood and youth remains with them always and flavors life as nothing else does. Without childhood play the “joy of living” is likely to be lacking.

The term “Spontaneity” vaguely conceived seems to be commonly used as free, unstudied, extroversive behavior, or as a personality attribute without relation to environment, situation or culture.

Were the term scientific, it would refer to dynamic organism-as-a-whole environment behavior. It is in this sense that the term is used in this text. Spontaneity may arise in the thought processes and from individual initiative, or in Social processes, or in the Integration of both. In any case spontaneity gives the impulse to action or achievement.

There is a peculiar wholeness in spontaneous action and a tendency to act with significant pertinence to the dominant aspect of the situation.  It is possible for it to die almost at birth but this is not the natural course for the nervous system in completes the impulse.

Moreover, when spontaneity is born in social group interaction, and this would seem to be cooperative interaction, and as mutuality prevails the impulse to action is coordinated into unified or integrated power. Under such conditions all the participants are moved to action, not alone by their individual impulse but by the coordinated power of all the participants. This is true whether an infant responds to a bright orange or a Socrates is impelled by an idea.

Excitement (mob behavior) may be spontaneous but it offers no opportunity for deliberation and disciplined procedure. Action is impulsive and purpose and consequences unconsidered. It is only at the point at which meaning and the impulse to act integrate that spontaneity arises.

In fact it would seem that spontaneous, on-the-spot action often involves an instantaneous focusing of a configuration of pertinent intelligence born of deliberative thinking and accumulated experience together with the intuition and judgment issuing in the immediate situation.

Spontaneity is the condition essential for the activation of primary forms of behavior such as imagination, empathy, emulation, imitation, vocalization, bodily rhythm, and the understanding of self and others.

Play must have some degree of exhilaration. Excitement is not the equivalent of exhilaration, nor is activity the equivalent of spontaneity. Both exhilaration and spontaneity may be present in relatively passive play and as it may be in work. The point of emphasis is that regardless of the fact that games of good form may occupy children they are not playing unless they are expressing spontaneity and exhilaration within the rules and in the process of solving the problem constituting the playing of a game.

Why, it may be asked, are spontaneity and exhilaration great essentials of play? Spontaneity is in the best sense, in the belief of the writer, freedom of functioning on the basis of the organism-as-a-whole.

Although conscious effort required in acquiring techniques for the furtherance of a play activity or an art is essential, it is quite different in effect from beginning with the emphasis on the technique before the activity is developed. Learning is too often trying to do what one cannot do rather than doing what once can do and progressing without sacrificing the spontaneity essential to the activity in progress. Striving for excellence in play activity prevents freedom and spontaneity. In striving for excellence, freedom and spontaneity are almost inevitably sacrificed. Interest tends to be centered in self and competition is over emphasized.

Records of play of both primitive and civilized peoples, particularly children, indicate that the simple forms of play, or play patterns, arise spontaneously among all human beings. This is what might be expected since it is a playful use of the natural functioning of the human body in some of its overt aspects. For instance, games confined to such types as throwing, catching, kicking, striking, and the like are overt action patterns that are largely determined by bodily structure. But other types of heavier with more mental, intellectual and emotional content similarly create play patterns. Much of the ritual of primitive people is in general believed to stem from the play impulse.

(b) Happiness

True play is always “happifying.” Play means happiness. It is characterized by feelings of pleasure which tend to break out in laughter. Play, like many other things, is best appreciated by seeing children who were without it. Children without play are not happy. Happiness involves many things even to a child. It means not being afraid, it means not doing things that other people understand and like, and it means knowing one can do things. It should be noted however, that players may not be spontaneous or joyous in the process of learning a complex game or some involved activity.

Happiness means good emotional tone, as surely as good posture means good muscle tone. There is a sense of correct balance and ease, a conscious knowledge that one can adjust to circumstances. That is why a child must play to be normal.

A person can help a child to learn to play some few things till he has learned a way of feeling, an attitude towards doing. It is this inner feeling of play the child must learn. Once a child learns the “spirit of play”, every new situation turns up numberless new associations and abilities.

Another distinctive character of play is its extroversiveness, that is, it frees the player from the sense of self and at the same time projects him psychologically into the play activity. Playful feelings are often said to take one “out of himself” and that play takes the player “into another world”.

Play centers interest outside of self. This ability to create and simultaneously play a role in a play situation is a primitive way of experiencing the delightful feeling of freedom from self. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying; “The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and sense in which he has attained liberation from self”. Observers of children’s play describe the players as being completely free from self and it might be added as “being wholly in their play”.

Play in all its forms is a complete contrast to conventional behavior and legitimizes originality, giving it full release, for play creates its own world. In no other form of activity is the individual so free to indulge in what may be called rough behavior, noise, physical activity, and antics and to largely disregard conventional behavior, all of which fall within the cultural frame of reference. And yet play is not an experience in lawlessness for it has its own social controls, its own code of morals, and its own rules, all of which is voluntarily adhered to for the most part and can be enforced, thus keeping the balance between personal freedom and social cultural demands.

Play is that form of social organization through which original nature is channeled most unhampered, and yet the play patterns of a particular cultural group are not a violation of social customs but rather a preserver of them. Not only is the content to the play in conformity with the fundamental institutions and the ethical morals of the culture but also play requirements are in harmony with the ethics of the group. For instance, children may play family life, shop keeping, funeral, school, etc., patterned in general in line with the institutional customs of the group, but in their play they also display courage, endure pain unflinchingly, respect the rights of others, abide by the rules, all in line with the ethics of their cultural group.

Values in Play

(a)    General

It is well to remember that the greatest value of play is enjoyment. In playing, players are merely having fun and should never be made conscious of what it is doing form them. Play develops the capacity to enjoy as well as the resources necessary to enjoyment. When the sub-intellectual portion of man is underdeveloped, we have a kind of social undernourishment. Undernourished children have appetite but when undernourishment is extreme we will call it malnutrition and a child suffering form that has no appetite. A child or person who suffers a social undernourishment lacks resourcefulness and has little means of healthy living.

Play is not only a release of surplus energy as is popularly believed, nor merely a means of amusement, nor an escape from reality. It is the means of organization and development of the physical, emotional, social life, and expression of the social and emotional elements which constitute the basis upon which a healthy, morally stabilized life rests. Play also contributes to sound intellectual achievement.

Play creates happy emotional condition of the organism-as-a-whole. It brings about disciplined emotional development and healthy emotions. Playing children are emotionally released; they run, laugh, and shout without restraint. They express their feelings. When we find ourselves in situations in which we are free to act as our “feelings” prompt, there is no emotional conflict in the functioning of the organism. This is what happens in spontaneous play.

Play involves social values, as does no other behavior. The spirit of play develops social adaptability, ethics, mental and emotional control, and imagination. These are the more complex adjustments a child learns through play. He learns them not as ends in themselves, not as external goals of conduct toward which he must strive, but he falls into them unconsciously as ways of acting successfully under various play conditions. They become habits of meeting situations happily. Changing a habit does not mean changing a rule or even consciously learning a series of acts. It means only continued adjustments to new situations. In play, there are adjustments to new situations constantly. As the child grows older it will be an adjustment to new mental situations as well as physical and social ones.

Play experience can prepare the person for purposefulness in non-play activities, for true play creates the incentive to use one’s best ability. Through play a person can develop a pattern of self-reliance and self-confidence. This has meaning in the intellectual development of the person. A person able to understand situations is likely to retain this attitude in all situations and to try to understand whatever he undertakes.

Well-chosen play activities have potentially unique value seldom understood or actualized. In the process of play, new powers emerge, such as bodily coordination, and aesthetic sensitivity. New values are experienced by the player, such as new social obligation to contribute to the maintenance of the common project undertaken by play group. Play activities yield immediate satisfaction to the players and the results of the effort are certain.

Play in the sense of function activates and heightens organismic tones and animates the player as he projects himself imaginatively and behaviorally into the activity and helps create the play situation. This is a dual (multiple) process. The experience of creating his role himself as a player while he helps to create the activity gives the person control over himself as a player thus what he, as a player, does or fails to do is his responsibility.

Creating and controlling oneself as a player as one helps to create the activity is in functional patterns, though not in experiential content, identical with acting in the drama, painting a picture, writing a poem, or composing a symphony. Obviously any of these forms of activity may be created with great skill and finish but without the essential function of play.

True play is its own value for the value of play is in play itself. To many persons the various forms of play activities are of equal value whether engaged in by the individual person apart from others, or in cooperative action with others.

The value of any play activity for the individual person depends on many factors:

  1. Chronological and mental age, previous play experiences
  2. The selection of play activity in relation to the players and the leadership given in the playing of it;
  3. The teacher’s personality and relationship to the players;
  4. The sincerity, spontaneity, facility and degree of participation of the teacher in the activity.

What the activity does for the particular participator is subordinate in importance to that of the activity itself.

 

(b)   Aesthetics

Play and art use the great essentials-intelligence, imagination, aesthetic feeling, sensitivity, spontaneity, originality, and productivity. The player and the artist create a tangible thing regardless of the fact that it may be composed entirely of intangibles-the song, or game for instance.

The basic factor in true play and true art is aesthetic sensitivity. While the raw material of sensitivity is the same for play and art, the form of expression is different and it would be regrettable were expression limited to play and the expression of the arts neglected in the development of the child.

For the best results in sensitivity in a young child enables him to see the incongruous as funny. Long before he can draw a funny picture, he sees as funny the work of others when he recognizes that the picture is incongruous. He may see as funny his own product, a drawing which began as an aesthetic impulse and failed to correspond with it. Humor may remain covert or find expression in subtle forms of facial expression and other forms of gesture.

It is not unusual for a child of three to evince a sense of humor. Wit, however, if it develops, comes with some facility with language. Humor, when expressed by children, may be frowned upon by adults and may be wholly neglected in the education of children.

(c)    Ethics

The various elements, which make up the whole person and his intelligence, are mutually influential. One aspect of education may affect another or the whole. Only as the whole child and youth develops progressively all aspects of personality as they emerge and change is the person educated.

In providing for the growth and development of children and youth in all aspects, physical, mental, social and cultural, there is need to consider the moral education of the individual. Dr. Mather, a Harvard geologist, pointed out the need for ethical consciousness. He said:

If civilization is to be saved from catastrophe, the ethical consciousness of each person must be greatly strengthened, renewed and improved. Natural science discloses the imperative need. Something that transcends natural science must assist men to respond to this challenge.

He went on to say:

The well springs of good lie deep within the spirit of man. The sources of discerning love are in the inner, private life of individuals.[1]

Culture grows out of people living and acting together, making rules regarding social relations and defining ways of acting in important matters common among them. But morality requires teaching as a safeguard.

Morality is a matter of consciousness, and conscience is “to know”. Conscience is the consciousness of right and wrong and this consciousness is the center of morality; to judge morality otherwise than as consciousness is defeating. It is only in recent years that the power of consciousness has become commonly accepted and somewhat understood.

Moral values are not specific forms of behavior but emerge in a variety of situations and begin for the infant by his being allowed to act freely and having his action appraised by the parents. Parents who try to develop in their children specific moral values which civilization has wrought out by meticulous guidance and safeguards frustrate the child’s intelligence and his sense of values.

It is safe to assume that all children need discipline in thinking, in social behavior, in conformity to social custom. The formal teaching of social behavior including moral and ethical education by verbal means is inadequate. Cultural education conveyed in verbal form is largely comprised of abstracted elements, which have been made into moral precepts largely prior to experience that might make them meaningful.

Education through the medium of actual social activity develops and gives expression to personal resources and moral normality.

Children may be trained or educated to behave well, even to do so voluntarily. The motive may be to win the approval of others or self-approval. Good behavior, however, too often is given precedence over experiences that develop conscience.

The experience that contributes to conscience is using one’s sense of right in solving every day problems as they arise and profiting by the results. As conscience develops it must be coordinated with maturation and experience in making judgments.

Problem solving involving ethical judgments is a highly productive experience.

It is essential that both parental guidance and correction of the child be conducive to his general position orientation so that he shall gradually desire to do what he understands is right and to abstain from wrong. Possibly this orientation can best be accomplished when the point at issue arises in the process of the child’s happy participation in constructive activity, partly because the situation is conducive to his understanding.

The teaching of social and moral education is due neither to individualized interpersonal influence nor the acquisition of formal behavior, but by everyday social living in various communities more or less successively and concurrently. A blueprint of such communities might be a succession of concentric areas and this brings us to a consideration of the scope of play and something of its value in everyday human life of adults as well as of children and youth.

One should not be confined or hamstrung by superimposed moral principles, but moral principles are essential and are demonstrated in social association and play. The child gradually learns right and wrong, good and bad, in the play situation. In play, there is pleasurable disciplined behavior in moral education. Players get discipline in right and wrong. In the playing of games there is opportunity in the situation that is ripe for correcting.

There is ethical education involved in play activities and play situations. The play patterns of a particular cultural group are preservers of social customs. Not only is the content in conformity with the fundamental institutions of the culture, but the ethical requirements are also in harmony with the ethics of the group. Children play family life, shop keeping, etc., patterned after the culture of the group, but they also exhibit courage, endure pain unflinchingly, respect the rights of others and willingly abide by the agreements made in play. The spirit of play develops social adaptability and child ethics.

Only when ethical behavior and law observance are voluntary is ethical education complete. Not only must the child learn his own primitive ethics but also he must arrive at higher ethics.  The curative treatment of a specific aspect of problem behavior carried on in reference to its positive effect on the wholeness of the person can be a form of moral education.

For example, a number of little girls worked out quite a group feeling in “hide and seek”. Cheating fortunately did not begin until they had tasted the pleasure in playing in keeping within the rules of the game. When cheating started the game was so spoiled suddenly and obviously as to bring torrents of indignation, not at the cheating but at the spoiling of the game. The girls soon learned the fun of good ethical sportsmanship, which is higher than the mere obedience to rules. They climbed high enough in social organization to demand perfect impartial justice. They all administered justice, not an abstract justice, but justice with mercy added in a stern and impartial way. It was justice, not a siding with one or two.

Out of the experience of playing games even young children then to formulate rules for behavior. There is the example of the child who wants all the turns. The teacher or play leader does not grant this demand but the child who has prestige among the children may be chosen for desirable roles in excess or exchange of other children. Free to choose their successor for a leading role, they tend to choose the child of prestige. When the leader permits freedom of expression, the children who are not participating members of the monopoly are likely to protest and call out: “It isn’t fair to always choose only your friends.”

This behavior is a long-term demonstration of social justice and ethical moral behavior. Social justice can be imposed if the experience following proves its worth and merit. Even when this proof is not immediately forthcoming and is far removed in time and different circumstances as to be unrecognized by the children as cause and effect, the justice of it may be accepted as fair and reasonable.

Thus through play, the child lives in a community he understands, which he can influence and whose rules he can accept. He learns to adapt himself to a social pattern, sometimes by imitation, but eventually only as he evolves. He experiences happiness and unhappiness – the very reactions that year after year have gone into the making of the ethical social pattern of the world. The child becomes social unconsciously. It comes as real change as the reactions become habitual and not as “New Year’s Resolutions”. He falls into ethical ways unconsciously as ways of acting successfully and as being socially approved under various conditions and situations.

Because true child education, not mere learning, must permit experimentation on the part of both adult and the child, it follows that both will make mistakes, take the consequences, be held [responsible] for changes and for the correction or such amends as are possible. This can be a happy experience or an unhappy one depending on how it is carried out.

One can hardly imagine either an adult or child for whom much of education is not necessarily experimental and if so, it must also allow for mistakes and correction. If this is true, educational methodology must accept experimentation and mistakes as the right of the experimenter. To teach children to refrain from acting until they know the correct way to act is to deny them the right. Action must take place experimentally and the mind kept open for new experimentation.

If schools and other organizations which are in continued association with children create rules to prevent errors, these prevent freedom to experiment and hence to learn precisely what not to do as well as what to do. Were this done, it would take away the child’s responsibility of acting upon his own judgment and taking consequence. Only through the policy of leaving the child free to experiment do children increase their ability to make sound judgment. A child cannot develop self-judgment and conscience unless he has freedom to act experimentally and judge and be judged on the basis of results. Properly educated, the young child will have been held responsible for the consequences of his mistakes in such a way that the will be happy in making reparations when possible.

To condemn, punish a child of any age for his mistakes tends to prevent his satisfaction in self-correction. Punishing a child for wrongdoing is at best a negative from of treatment more likely to invoke fear of wrong action than to help the child to desire and carry out right action. Punishment might serve as a penance and thereby weaken moral courage. Combined with other punitive forms of treatment it may produce fear, hatred, and revenge. At best, children are punished with the intention of improving them or correcting their behavior. Yet the punishment of children almost invariably creates a conflict between punisher and the punished and right doing under authoritative compulsion in making corrections militates against the child’s desire to do right.

Correction of undesirable behavior is best carried on via self-determined action in a coordinated activity by action, which permits the child to formulate moral judgments and conclusions.  One is perfectly safe in saying that children like to do right and even be made to do right when they are unable to make themselves do so but they must know that it is right. If the adult has in mind building up the child’s conscience and integrity to follow his own judgments he will, with love in his heart, help the child make his own judgments, work out reparations and correct his misconceptions or mistakes. The child can be held responsible for much of his behavior and denied common privileges when he violates the right to these, and they should be taken away or the child should be helped to correct his behavior.

Uncovering a child’s shortcomings and mistakes openly or covertly is likely to impress them in his consciousness even thought they cease to function openly, and may cause him to fear their return. For instance, when a child steals cookies he does so secretly and feels he is doing wrong. It is possible that his parents would be satisfied were he to cease stealing cookies and might punish him to effect the reform. Fear of punishment may have deterred his stealing cookies in the home, but not in a store or elsewhere. When the parents merely stop the child’s stealing in instances as they occur, they may be aiming at curing the child’s propensity to steal. They may have impressed in his consciousness the blameworthiness of his stealing behavior and possibly the fear of punishment in the home that it may build up resistance to stealing at some future time.

The making of a decision on the part of child may involve prestige. It may even so be made on the basis of right and wrong. Since so much pressure is brought to bear for the wrong action it would seem only fair to bring pressure for the right action.

For example, May and Janet had carried their playthings out of doors and played with them together. Janet later refused to help May carry their playthings into the house. The aunt of the children brought pressure for what she was reasonably sure Janet knew was the right action. She said to Janet, as follows:

“You helped bring out the playthings and you played with them. Don’t you think it is right for you to help put them away?”

 

“Yes, but I won’t.” Janet replied. The aunt then said, “I have found we all have to do what is right no matter how big or little we are.”

 

“I know, but I won’t.” was Janet’s response.

Janet’s father chanced to hear the last emphatic “I won’t” and was about to initiate and intervene authoritatively, but was quietly checked by the aunt who said, “Janet and I are working this out.”

Gently but firmly and repeatedly the aunt insisted that we all have to do what is right. Gradually, the child’s “I won’t” grew weaker and finally she dashed off to help May, not only to carry in the playthings but afterwards to help clean up the scraps of paper with which they had earlier littered the floor of the playroom.

To expect a child or adult with a past of deviant behavior patterns to transform verbally presented dictum [sic] of social conformity is questionable methodology in either education or reeducation; both must be achieved primarily by the child’s own social behavior. That social behavior must eventually give him sufficient satisfaction to orient him toward socially acceptable behavior and away from the specific deviant behavior. This change may occur in the unconscious but further advance experientially should bring the specific conflict of the deviant and correlative non-deviant behavior into conflict consciously. If, in the reeducation of the particular behavior the moral judgment rejecting the deviant and accepting its non-deviant counterpart as a preferential basis for action becomes an adhered to conceptual principle, the reeducation can be regarded as complete.

How the implications of a misdemeanor of which the person at fault is unconscious can be handled without his being identified with the misdemeanor involved is illustrated by the following incident. Compare the procedure with punishment as an alternative and one must note the difference in education value between either punishment or penance.

A ten-year-old boy who lived with his grandmother entered into an agreement with her that he would not go to a motion picture show without her consent. He confessed he had violated the agreement and apparently assumed that since he had confessed there was nothing further required of him. He had gone to a movie in the afternoon session of school and thus had missed a half-day of schoolwork. His grandmother called this fact to his attention. When he proposed that he stay after school to make up the work his grandmother asked if the teacher too had gone the movies. The boy deliberated and then suggested that since the teacher had to be in the classroom a quarter to nine in the morning, she might be willing to let him come early every day until he had made up the time he missed.

Conditioning

a)      Positive Experience

Conditioning may be said to be healthy and normal. It is a normal aspect of organism-as-a-whole functioning. At any rate it is a fact, and advantageous in many phases of learning. It is not considered abnormal that poetry expressed in a song is more easily learned than without a song. The words of a poem set to music and sung by the learner may be recalled by him by hearing the tune. A new language is readily acquired by a child in connection with events that make it meaningful with other children who speak the language freely and coincidentally along with action, an event or situation which reveals the meaning. Lines learned in the drama are more easily learned and better retained if learned in the process of meaningful action than when they are committed to memory first and later combined with the action. Directors of the drama who take advantage of conditionality have their actors in the early stages of rehearsal read their lines along with the relevant movements and only after the integration of the spoken words and the movements takes place are the actors required to “bone down” and learn their lines. Getting into the action of the drama will bring the lines to the memory of the actor just as when unable to recall the lines of the poem the tune of the song will recall the words.

The teacher or leader who wisely included the emotional condition of the children in teaching or leading activities and creates a happy atmosphere is taking advantage of this normal conditionality. Happy associations are an advantage only when unhappy or deviant emotionality takes over and influences behavior unconsciously, [when they] divert or block normal functioning, they are harmful.

The past is highly significant as affecting the behavior of the organism-as-a-whole in which emotionality affects fixations and plays other tricks in the nervous system that divert and side track the reaction of the nervous system. How to unfix these fixations in human organisms in important.

Emotional blockages may be crated quite simply. When high emotionality occurs in conjunction with an event in the life of an individual, a recurrence of the event may be accompanied by emotionality similar to that formerly occurring in conjunction with the event. When the emotionality is so powerful that it dominates the nervous system it diverts the nervous current from completing the initial current and may continue to do so whenever the accompanying event recurs or even when it is only recalled imaginatively in memory. For example, a first grade child who was reprimanded for her inability to solve a mathematical problem. Although grown to adulthood and able to solve mathematical problems with ease, she experiences “feelings of terror and misery” whenever she uses mathematical symbols.

(b) Negative Experience

An unfortunate tradition prevails in many homes and schools that right doing is and should be painful or at least unpleasant. Tasks arising in the routine of everyday life in the home are administered by the parent with negative implication either in the form of arbitrary demands, or on the assumption that such tasks are disagreeable to the child.

In the school, children are punished by doing schoolwork, so-called recitations and examinations to tests, by tradition rather than by the teacher’s initiation, but too often followed nevertheless. It becomes something of a contest with the teacher trying to “catch” the child and the child fearing the possibility of making a mistake and being punished. Equally unfortunate is the child who attain a place on the honor roll as a reward for doing the best work, maybe not the best of which he is capable, which is what he should be expected to do. Such rewards tend to destroy the child’s enjoyment of good work.

Another unfortunate tradition prevails in many homes and schools in many areas of endeavor that learning “the right way” should be painful, and is good education although this would not possibly be admitted either by parents of the school. In a well-meaning school for the education of workers with youth organizations a slogan ran, “Do the hard right instead of the easy wrong.” Right doing is quite generally held to be hard.

Children are quite generally punished for misdemeanors rather than being disciplined for the purpose of prevention as well as correction. Correction of a misdemeanor can in general rightly be a happy experience if not in the total process at least in the end results, or at least be accepted either immediately or in retrospect as just and fair by the offender. It us unfortunate that too often not the justice but the harshness by which it was administered is remembered.

This does not call for shaping education for the individual on the basis of his failure to meet the requirements of the norm by treating his specific problem in itself as an entity but rather, by treating him as a dynamic unity capable in some degree of a positive build up development, however limited that development may be.

Play and Behavior Change

In the whole field of social work and that of education as well, there is urgent need of facts regarding the function of play and recreation in the education and reeducation of children, adolescents and adults. Experience with directed play applied in a wide field and covering a long period of years indicated that it has therapeutic values. More or less permanent changes are known to have been wrought in persons through [sic] play activities in school children, normal and subnormal, hospitalized children, in youth, mentally ill youth and adults. However, in spite of observations of the curative effects of play out of which the term “recreational therapy” has emerged, the therapeutic value must remain controversial until research supports its claims and application to the treatment of abnormal behavior must remain sporadic until accurate methodology has been established. Nevertheless, there are sufficient facts to prove the value of play to indicate that institutions caring for delinquent children, hospitals for children and adults especially those caring for mental patients should include play in their treatment program.

While play is of great value in institutions concerned with the treatment of problem and anti-social behavior, or deviant behavior it is also a value in bringing about behavior change in all children, youth and adults afflicted with personality problems. Play, particularly the playing of organized games, has proven to be a dynamic process at once correctional, disciplinary, and developmental. Since all true play is extroversive it involves expressive heavier in the players and therefore tends to prevent or remove blockages and in one process provides a counterpart of the blockage.

In organized play or social groups especially those of children and adolescent youth, many individual personality problems are revealed and resolved. Due to neglect and to various harmful past experience, fixations or blockages which lie buried in the child’s unconscious are likely to be released in play and revealed to the observer. An individual’s problem may possibly be revealed through it may be resolved without becoming obvious to the child.

Many individual children are helped out of some distressing condition by play. Play may result in a release of the blockages by replacing them, the child developing out of them, or by outgrowing them.

Problems may be solved better incidentally by a good program of play activities without intention to do so and possibly without awareness of the existence of such problems either by the playing group, or its leader, or the youth with problems himself.

This is a far cry from probing into the personal life in search for problem behavior, and then providing conditions to its overt unrestrained expression, or in attempting to change the problem heavier by punitive reprisals. Froe example, there is Wally, physically handicapped, who changed his anti-social behavior after having a play experience in dramatics. He later reprimanded the participants who behaved as he had previously.

Another example of behavior change through play activities is that of a young woman who, as a child received undue notice from adults as “cute” and became a “show off.” In a dramatic role there were difficulties in trying to get her to act in character in the role to which she was assigned in the play. Cooperation from the rest of the cast helped in this effort. Subsequently she did act in character and became very critical of a member who had the same difficulty she had previously.

While providing the individual with the kind of play experience that will correct faulty or problem behavior and compensate for the results of neglect or misadventure, guiding play experience of children or youth with problems is not psychiatric treatment. Disciplined by play activity, perhaps a game, which is free and unregimented, the unconscious is released in play and its deviant overt aspects are subjected to the social judgment of the other players which may or may not bring it to the consciousness of the child or youth in question, or it may be released and dissolved unconsciously in the healthy impersonal activity. Experience has shown such release and re-education to result in widespread and far reaching changes in both the so-called normal children and adults, in subnormal children and pathological adults as well.

The fact that a child may become conscious that he had in the past been guilty of bad behavior but now was not so, is different from the worker identifying him with such behavior at the time of its evidence. It is far better for the child to look back on his bad behavior after having overcome it. He is more apt to rejoice in his correcting and changing than in regretting the past and feeling guilty about it. Play tends to take the manifest and potential person forward not merely to correct his deviance.

Both work and play can be used therapeutically. In both work and play, the emotional satisfaction and the overt results achieved in each reinforce each other. In play, the player proves to himself and others what he can do. However, the play must be within his manifest ability and potentialities and also commensurate with his maturity. [GS4] It might be expected that changes in the form of both kinds of activities, work and play, would be required to stimulate progress on the one hand, and to keep interest and satisfaction alive on the other. In mental illness as in normal health, work and play constitute two sources of satisfaction for both emotional and overt results.

Problem behavior falls into types and is related to age categories. Young children frequently reveal symptoms of problem behavior, such as too great dependency on eating, thumb sucking, use of pacifiers, etc. Rational development detracts from too great dependency on these habits. Various forms of play are conducive to lessening this type of dependence. Children to not suck their thumbs while listening to stories. Story listening is extroversive while thumb sucking is introversive.

Another type of problem behavior frequently encountered in play activities of children, youth and adults is that of self-reference, showing off, of the egotistic individual. Players with normal development and social experience progress in depth and expansion through both repetition and variety of play activities with freedom and order. Also what may be called personality or character attributes become increasingly stabilized in play. Bright children need not be made conscious of their mental superiority. Left alone, children in both family and school accept difference in various abilities without either self-aggrandizement of the bright or the self-depreciation of the less qualified. Brightness, dullness, or the slowness in children may show in either physical or mental behavior or in both but in any case, identifying a child with his brightness or dullness turns his thoughts to self and thereby narrows the scope of his outlook. No parent needs to fear to share accomplishments of either the bright or dull child when attention is centered in the achievement and not in self. Children so oriented or educated are prepared to find interest in one another’s achievements and in later childhood to give one another encouragement.

A young child whose parents induce him to “show-off” his “tricks” may be so taken over by the “show-off” pattern of behavior that he is never able to establish the organism-as-a-whole spontaneity or, if so, only with wise treatment of an adult an in association with other children whose behavior patters are spontaneous and free from exhibitionism.

Calling a child a “show-off” may prevent overt expression of exhibitionism but it will not help him in freeing himself from it nor in acquiring the organism-as-a-whole pattern. This latter pattern is an essential power in education.

Exhibitionism, even for a person of any age who has sufficiently established spontaneous organism-as-a-whole behavior patterns is likely to cause a person to try under this pressure to copy the pattern previously experienced. This too is an obstacle to the greater permanency of the desirable organism-as-a-whole behavior pattern.

Egoism, or “self-reference” often has its beginnings in early childhood by being encouraged to “show off” special talents and accomplishments. High grades and the honor roll in school made over-important, or in fact, any form of excellence given self-reference may contribute to egoism. An egotistic person finds difficulty in getting into play activities imaginatively. This difficulty in getting into active participation in social activities is particularly apparent in dramatics when he is required to “get into character”.

In attempting to re-educate the egoist child, games played happily by boys and girls of approximately similar age would possibly make the best beginning. Children can be freed from self-reference by playing games with other children. Children respond negatively to self-reference of another even though they may do so unconsciously. While in true play children almost invariably share in the joy of another who has made a good play, they are unlikely to accord similar goodwill to a “show-off”. No doubt any achievement that was evoked by wholehearted effort and unselfish purpose would go far in freeing a person from self-reference and receive the acclamation of the other children. While games are likely to be a good beginning in the freeing of children from self-reference, dramatization of stories and other forms of dramatic play would also be desirable, even though this more advanced play might require varied experience over a period of time.[GS5]

The problem of re-educating the adolescent or adult egoist is likely to be far more difficult than that of a child. In either case, egoism is somewhat or wholly unconscious. A child can be developed out of it without being made conscious of it. This is wholly desirable.  But the adult may require both treatment in the unconscious as well as in the conscious.

The egoist is often a person who excels in many activities and as a result is reluctant to undertake anything that portends less than that for him. This makes his re-education difficult. He interprets and justifies egoism as excellence and therefore clings to it.

It was observed that a person addicted to egoism had aspirations in the field of dramatics. She was assigned a leading role in a good play but it was discovered she could not get into character. Through the great skill of the director and with continued effort she ultimately not only got into character but also did excellent acting. The praise of a small select audience was overwhelming. An appeal was made for a repeat performance for a specially invited audience for the next night. This time the person in question was unable to get into character for she tried to imitate[GS6]  the acting she had done the night before. Apparently the high praise had no doubt given rise and vitality again to her egoism and the strange audience added to the result.[GS7]  What she needed was to act for a small group of sympathetic classmates in various plays over a long period of time until she overcame her self-reference and egoism and became master of her roles in the plays.

It is quite possible that sports might help in the re-education of a confirmed egoist, although it is not helpful to him to have his egoism verbally uncovered by other persons, rather this knowledge should come to his consciousness, if it does, in the process of re-education as he participates in the activities.

The egoist must always top another person’s account of an event by some form of self-reference. He may check himself by hearing this practice condemned or continue either consciously or unconsciously. Whatever the form of extreme egoism, it narrows down the outlook of its victim and limits creative experience that is the essence of play. When one’s motivation of a kind act to another, or other form of praise-worthy behavior is the reflective good to one’s self, it creates or is self-interest, self-reference.

Problem Behavior

There is urgent need for knowledge and education that equips teachers and all workers with children and youth to prevent problem behavior and/or treat it in its earliest appearance and stages. Many forms of behavior, which allowed to go on, would be likely to become increasingly serious can be changed unconsciously in both children and adults.

The term “build-up” best expresses the most effective treatment of some forms of problem behavior, in fact treatment of many forms. That is, the child is to be nurtured as a whole by a variety of developmental, correctional experiences, in the wholeness of character. Education suffers from the failure to equip teachers and workers with children to educate and work with the whole child, for the child will behave as whole since nature made him a dynamic while and therefore he must be educated as a whole. If teachers continue to be equipped for only the mental or academic education of the child and yet be held responsible for the child’s social and moral character, the whole of education suffers and the children with behavior problems will continue to be cases for psychiatrists, psychologists, judges, correctional schools and institutions and similar piecemeal forms of treatment to be dealt with.

It should be remembered that problem behavior of a serious nature in children and often in adults frequently is “outgrown”. Children and adults frequently grow out of problem behavior, just as the body renews itself. The term “out-grown” is used advisedly for only change in the inner life of the person is truly curative and corrective. When play activities are coordinated with the readiness of potentialities in children, correction and “out-grown” is brought about positively by the process of the actualization of potentialities.

Unwholesome habits, emotional blocks, abnormal conditions and other problems are “out-grown”, resolved in stimulating progress in healthy development and the process of play without the person himself even being conscious of his own problem. Play rightly used may be positive therapy administered without the subject’s being conscious of his abnormality or misdemeanor.

In re-education the deviant may be unaware or not conscious of his particular deviance. However, it may be brought to consciousness by various experiences and by understanding others and self.

Activity opens the way for growth and corrective experience. Condemning himself is killing the source of correction while condemning the action or particular behavior opens the way for its correction.

In re-education of the deviant it is important that there be a policy of keeping the recipient of treatment from becoming cognizant that he is undergoing treatment and abstaining from revealing this to him later. When deviant behavior is analyzed in an effort to make reparations or correction the offender’s attention is centered not in himself but in the offense or deviance and what to do about it himself. Punishment imposed by not matter whom likewise centers attention in the offender and contributes nothing towards the solution of the problem.

In the building up of severely deviant or underdeveloped persons, the less their deviance is verbally interrupted to them, the less they are conscious of what is occurring in the process of correction, the healthier the experience will be. It is quite possible and would seem to be a healthy completion of the experience for the person to retrospectively become cognizant of the benefit he has derived.

However, for another person to attempt to recall this experience to the person might make him resentful of being or having been manipulated for that determining tactics have been used by another. This is not to imply his observation of similar deviance in another might not make him retrospectively conscious of his own past deviance. This might occur subjectively or unconsciously through his own maturation and growth and/or insight, hindsight, or analogously through knowledge gained from fiction or other literature, or through other sources, rather than by verbalizes uncovering of his deviance by another person. Much harm can be done by such uncovering of past errors or problem behavior. In either case the person may condemn himself, and/or resent the person who makes him conscious of his past, or, like Jacob, he may be lifted above the past, and seeing the whole experience in a new light be freed from it. Possibly such an experience may be the stuff of which Jacob’s ladder was made.

The policy of building up or developing the whole person and providing situations and conditions conducive to strengthen the particular weakness and/or undermining deviance by positive experience results in change coming positively not negatively. In other words, to work for a positive build-up in a person with attention to specific weakness and/or deviance is suggested as the method to bring about behavior change.

In working to bring about a behavior change, we are building up not alone the person’s conception of himself, but what we want him to become. Acting upon the knowledge we have the dynamic organism-environment relationship and the dynamic organism-as-a-whole function of the individual, we do not need to know what precise condition is blocking the individual or causing the problem behavior for we are free to control and experiment to a considerable degree by controlling the environment. But so long as experimentation is based on static conceptions of these dynamic facts: that the organism environment relations are a two-way dynamic process, and that the individual functions dynamically as a whole, environment will inevitably be conceived as static and its potential as an activating agent will continue to be bypassed in the schools, in the treatment of problem behavior, and in the treatment of the mentally ill and mentally defective.

There are many factors involved in bringing about change in behavior. Changes in behavior may be so small or the problem so resistant that only perseverance and consistency will bring about a significant change.

Not only curricular activities and the actualization of potential but the dynamic character of consciousness in an adult taking a dominant role and position of authority in continued association with the same children will bring about change. Under this condition, children have day-by-day experience and responsibility in making judgments and maintaining justice under happifying conditions. It is the continuum by which repeated experiences become established as genuine characteristics. A teacher may personally get good response without changing a child’s character. She may personally influence a child and change his behavior overtly but it may not have reformed him. It is possible to educate children to deal with deviance as it occurs in school or in a playgroup in such a way that right and wrong behavior is brought into sharp contrast in consciousness. Such education or experience should develop conscience in the individual and social responsibility inn the group.

The social group can be a factor in bringing about change to desirable behavior. Schools, children’s hospitals and other agencies have proven that organized programs and well-selected play activities have been both preventive and corrective of deviant behavior in children. Lawlessness in children can best be corrected in social group activities.

In the association and the social activities of a group spontaneous and gradual build-up of new powers, resources and new attitudes occur. This is one of the unique values of an integrated group such as a club. In such a group, evaluation of the undesirable behavior character trait or other by either the group or an individual member, or even an individual in authority, may be motivated by friendly desire to help the offender, or it can be an unfriendly condemnation of him. When the motivation of the group is marked by friendliness to the offender and by negative appraisal of the offense or behavior, reformation is likely to be undertaken as a matter of course by the offender himself. This treatment, if gradual enough, tends to induce conformity and prevent conflict and can go far in bring about behavior change in the offender.

When youth incapable of contributing to a group are accepted as members with full rights and privileges they are thereafter encouraged to actually fulfill the requirements for such membership. The experience of being borne up and carried along by the momentum of a fairly large organized social group can be a great power in building up the deviant individual until his deviance is modified. When this comes without his having been made conscious of his deviance it can be a sort of face-saving therapy.

On the other hand, conflict created in the consciousness of the deviant individual by his experience in the group, without the verbal analysis imposed by others, may also be face-saving. When conflict in the consciousness of the deviant is allowed to incubate and develop at its own rate, it tends to force or push between his deviance and the developing build-up.

There is an important difference, therefore, between holding the offender responsible for the overt deviance and discussing it as an infraction of rules inherent in the activity, as against condemnation of the person. The bringing of such personal problems into the open by others can create self-condemnation, shame and/or resentment towards the other members of the group and discourage effort towards reform, behavior change, and the working out of his own problem.

A person tied into his club is subject to continuous influence by the group. In association with others in social activities the deviant is free and more open to influence than he is when under examination or treatment in a clinic. In his club he assimilates according to his total condition, attitude, feeling, sand identifies with what in the group is to him good. It is possible for the person who creates his own problems of behavior to work them out or to work out of them. Right desire can be a powerful influence for reform. To attempt to get such by precept or even by “talking it over”, is to defeat the higher purpose of working out the whole problem incident to being a young human being with deviant behavior.

Negative Influences in Play

While the values in play are many and play activities and the experiences therein are essential in the growth and development of children, play does not always bring good results. This is due to the fact that certain elements may enter which tend to negate the values in play. There is a kind of play that separates, sets us in conflict with each other in contrast to play that draws us together.

An overemphasis on winning defeats other possible values in play. Winning school children’s teams playing baseball have been beaten up by the losing team. In such cases winning has been overemphasized. Play is killed and then effort is often made to get back what was killed by authoritarian treatment or by preaching sportsmanship.

Stress put upon the structure and technique of a play activity by the play leader or teacher tends to prevent the release of organic elements essential to creativity and expression of any kind.

Extolling a child who has shown great ability or achievement, who left alone, might evoke emulation of his achievement, may create jealousy instead and make him a “show-off” as well. Thus the values in the play activity are destroyed for both his peers and the child himself. Giving a child praise or special privilege may evoke resentment towards him in others. Furthermore, this has importance in the development of intelligence for when one is being made the object of special attention; one is being distracted from the purpose of the situation to which he purports to be giving all his attention and effort.[GS8]

The tendency of the adult to try to induce the child to copy particular personal characteristics or the character attributes of another may not only result in his rejection of the adult’s dictum but he may even be made jealous of the other. While healthy minded children are quick to acclaim unostentatious excellence they are equally quick to reject the copying of virtuous social behavior of another. Left alone they are ready emulators.

Fun is the essence of the spirit of play but when the pretense of fun is “played up”, it tends to kill the natural vitality of play. Pretense of fun kills real play.[GS9]

Negative attitudes brought into play activities and play projects, if not checked, destroy the value of play for the players. Negativism, or being against this or that, leads to hating without positive enthusiasm for something good and the development of the ability to make it come to pass. Play is one of the best developers of positive attitudes and one of the best cures of negativism. In play, a person proves his ability and thereby convinces himself of it. He sees both his achievements and limitations. He also notes changes in his own ability and thereby negativism can be prevented or changed to positive attitudes through play. But, when an activity, such as baseball, involves hatred of one’s opponents it has a negative effect on himself and possibly his opponent.

The use of discipline by an adult in the course of playing often conditions the individual against adults. It may result in farcing in play.

Among the factors of great influence on the value of play is the quality of the content of the activities. Because of this fact, traditional games, the content of which challenges continued interest, are superior to those in which one player is made the butt of the joke, or to those which have a “catch” in them which, when once discovered, renders the game of no further interest.

The tendency to farce games, or to indulge in “farced play” indicates a poverty of ability to psychologically get into the game and unless once psychologically gets into the game, one is not actually playing any more than the actor who fails to get into character is acting. The best way to avoid such farcing in play is to select activities that challenge interest and tax but do not over tax the ability of the players[GS10] .

The tricks and show off devices employed frequently for the purpose of “putting over” a program are unnecessary provided the activities are themselves of interest to the group. Moreover, such tricks and devices indicate a desire on the part of the leader to direct attention to himself rather than to leave with the group recreational and play material which can be used repeatedly on the initiative of the members of the group and individual players.

Before undertaking the analysis of t play activities in terms of the behavior likely to be evoked in the process of playing them, it is essential to keep in mind the fact that the person is a unity of while and that the human organism behaves as whole under all conditions. Play utilizes the while person and organism-as-a-whole activates the whole.[GS11]  The content of the while so developed constitutes the development of elements that can be used for other purpose than play.

Play activities of the higher order such as games, dances, drama, provide a synthesis, that is, they provide an organizing medium for bringing together various aspects of human impulses, feelings, sentiments, and so on, giving meaning to them mutually and as a unit. By sharing in such activities wee give understanding of the meaning of human behavior per se and of ourselves reflectively.

If the educational value of play is to be understood, the value of the active process of playing as well as its characteristic forms of expression at different periods of life should be understood. The essential factor in play is the process.

In true play, whatever the particular play activity, the players spontaneously project themselves behaviorally and psychologically into the activity for the satisfaction the process of playing affords them.

The play behavior attitude of play is this ability to project oneself into a play activity and voluntarily act consistently with the requirements of the play situation.

Through the medium largely of such play activities as games, dramatic and story acting, dancing, singing, playing house, making things, players project themselves into the activities and in the process exclude irrelevant thinking and acting. At the same time they experience the delightful freedom from self.

True play requires a unique form of self-determined, spontaneous play behavior which lasts only as long as the player’s psychological integrity holds out. When the player repudiates the challenge of the play situation imaginatively and mentally withdraws from the game or play situation, he ceases to play and no longer maintains the spontaneous imaginative physiological participation which is the unique essential of the function of the spirit of play, even though he may continue to act overtly in maintaining the letter of the game or activity.

Play comprises attitudes and situations. For best results interest must arise from insight into the situation, or problem, and the challenge for its solution must be accepted and must animate the player throughout the period of play. The instant the solution of the problem, whether it be a thing to be created or an act of skill to be performed, an opponent to be overcome in a game, or some group effort to be accomplished, ceases to constitute the whole challenge, the attitude of play ceases and it is no longer play.

In the course of spontaneous play the inner feelings, character qualities, etc., are objectified behaviorally, and cause-effect relationships are so restricted in time and space and the actions of the individuals reacted to so immediately that his shortcomings, should there be such, and the inducements to overcome them an/or achieve, results in self-realization.

Play is a continuous circulatory process or reaction. The player is in a stimulating situation that calls forth effort and action. In play, this is the individual’s self-selected situation stimulation and his self-selected action. Playing in a group is a process of individual behavior taking place in a problem-solving situation, which tends to make the situation and his action intelligible to the player.

In play, all that a child or person is by inheritance and learning may come to expression. When expressed it becomes inter-bound with all other sides of him and with others. Whatever a player expresses in play, he assimilates just as he assimilates the milk he drinks. Play in itself is an innate tendency serving as a natural impetus to everything in a child. Self expression cannot come in bucketfuls, as when a rope and a bucket is let down into a well for water. Neither can it be pumped, but in the process of play it will flow out as from an artesian well when an opening into the source has been made. It is in this overflow that new mixtures are made, new discoveries arise, and refinements of what is beneath comes forth.

In the function of playing various aspects of play behavior become organized into problems. In play activities the participants play roles. If it a dance the player follows the design through to the close, likewise playing his roles. If the play situation is a game he acts in obedience to the rules and plays his role in relation to those of the other players. If is a drama he acts consistently within the frame of the play. When the activity is finished or over, the player comes out o f his role psychologically. In the process of playing different roles, the player can get safely both more and different experience than he can get in the routine of every day living. In the drama, he can become for the time being a hero, lover, villain, or saint, which may give him psychologically a long vacation from his work-a-day self and certainly it enables him to get experience impossible for him outside the drama.

Within its own peculiar frame of reference each play activity is appropriately created. Abstract symbols, musical notations, written definitions, and son on, are translated into organized synthesized overt expression. This overt expression of the activity takes the player outside of himself for the activities are expressed only for the satisfaction such expression affords the player.

All techniques, social mannerisms, conventional behavior are a matter of intent until it becomes so habitual that it frees one from the necessity of giving it attention.

When playing a new form of some play activity, the player at first is likely to be primarily concerned with the working out of the development of the structure, or frame of reference. As. The structure becomes organismically established by the employment of pattered stimulus, the player is able to give less attention to the translation of the verbal description into play and he is set free to become more creative and more of his potentialities are thereby evoked. Such results come about, however, only when the structure and techniques of the particular play activity are not over stressed by the play leader or teacher.

Purpose is needed in play. Purpose is the child’s own goal. When purpose is constructive and functions freely in play, it tends to contribute to normality in all aspects of development and behavior. One makes progress then without goals. Set goals, instead of setting the child free, clog up his activity.[GS12]

In the play of children, functioning appears to result in the child’s correlating those aspects which he senses as mutually homogeneous to his purpose. This appears to be of similar mental pattern as a “universe of discourse”.

Children should be encouraged and guided in all forms of play with freedom to initiate and carry out various forms of play; but aimless, wasteful, trifling is to genuine play what the harmless chit-chat of adults is to fruitful conversation. In many families the children run about without purpose and often attack one another apparently with no intention to injure, but frequently it becomes real fighting, though often regarded by adults as play.

Much of what passes for children’s play is aimless based on impulse, and is a mere exciting or purposeless excitement. It is not play but rather an experience in confusing and diffusing action. A preponderance of excitement tends to create excessive tension and confusion without relaxation and therefore leads to the lessening of intelligent self-control.

What purports to be the play of children may be purposeless and capricious impulse. Such play behavior lacks psychological continuity and the play forms may be mere incidents with no apparent connection, or meaning sequence. And yet each incident may be primitive play behavior, organismic, the essential form of true play and be imaginatively created. No doubt any normal movement contributes to organismic development though it may not be play. A child limited to aimless play employs too little of his potential powers.

A game, story, nursery rhyme, songs, or reading may serve as a synthesizing medium to organize a frustrated purposeless child. There are some many games available that they can be selected to fit needs of group or a child. However, to let the group or child know the purpose of the worker or parents tends to defeat it.

To have progress in play, purpose is needed. It seems that a healthy characteristic of youth is progress, especially when it involves unused powers. Unless there is progress involving new powers, life seems to lack zest. What the child needs is a variety of stimulus patterns through play activities, not being told how to act in these, but being free to develop his own way. Purpose in play activities creates the necessity of finding the way by the child himself.

In various forms of play such as dramatizing stories, games, playing house, etc., children hold themselves to the general pattern of the play and yet the individual is left free to play his role in his own way spontaneously, provided his play does not violate the requirements. Such a frame of reference as a game, being more definite, necessitated closer adherence to the events in relation to the purpose in the game, greater continuity and more self disciplined play behavior, though it may be either mentally or organismically centered, than that characterized by capricious free forms of play which lack such sequence.

The purpose of the playing child [may] be defeated in various ways: it may be interrupted by restrictive conditions, or by authoritative direction however gently given; by the child being told what to do in a play situation and how to do it; by his being given assistance when his persistence would enable him to either succeed, cause him to return to the problem later, or to simply give up for the time being[GS13] .

Problem Solving in Play

In play activities the process of playing involves problem solving whether it be how to pile up the blocks in building a tower to make them stand or the playing of chess and working out the moves.

When the child organizes his playthings so that they represent his experience and rationality and names the result a train, for example, the functional pattern employed by him is similar to that used by the scientist. The difference between the child and the extent of the imaginative superstructure it inspires. A child’s problem solving is in pattern a fit basis of science.

When the young child habitually asks “what’s that?” he may be challenged by “you tell me what it is”, or by sharing his curiosity and wondering what it is, getting him to wonder too. If problem solving were merely getting the final result in the answer or following a formula, problem solving would be of little value. It is the process of working out the solving of the problem that has value for the problem solver.

Problem solving involves the whole person and may carry the problem solver far beyond the original problem and include far more than does the problem itself. It may lead the problem solver on to new interests and intellectual adventure, whereas learning, the  acquiring of information and textbook recorded fact, tends to end with the required learning. Problem solving does and must include organic intelligence but mere symbolic learning ignores the value of problem solving and its incentive to solving the problem.

While it is true that the human mind sensing a problem tends to accept it as a challenge for trying to solve it, it is equally true that mere experimentation involving the rejection of the hypothesis may tend to intensify the challenge as does even the step by step process as the solution progresses even at long intervals. The degree of effort made in trying to solve a challenging problem even though not rewarded by success determines the degree of satisfaction. Having done one’s best is satisfying even though one has not attained one’s purpose.

While man possesses this primitive ability to solve problems and retains this ability throughout live in conjunction with his higher order of intelligence, problem solving must be continuous in both man and animals if potentials are to be timely anticipated and activated.

When a child creates problems in his play he should be left to solve them if he is either able to do so or is likely to create the situation at another time and try to solve it then. Every time the child can be made to come to grips with his own problem in play he should be encouraged to do so.

However, uncovering a problem before he can solve it may be defeating, discouraging his effort and perhaps create self condemnation and/or a guilt feeling, all of which tend to ham-string his effort.

In solving a problem in play a child does not want to be told the answer but steered, although he may never need to be helped thus, to himself getting the answer. He wants no meticulous explanation. Steering the child must not result in the child becoming reluctant to ask questions for fear of getting meticulous answers. When he asks a question, however, he must be taught to listen to answers.

Kipling’s Ricki Ticki Tavy is an example of curiosity being satisfied through the process of finding out.

To stimulate effort in problem solving, and to find out for themselves, children are offered rewards and penalties, honor rolls, given overemphasized praise, etc., even emblems and prizes. In such situations, as certain children discover their limitation in various activities, those who have little or no chance for success respond negatively to this type of stimuli. For these, as well as for those who respond positively and have ability, interest and satisfaction in the problem solving process is diverted by the rewards, etc. Defense of this use is that it is spur to effort. The question is, does the use awards, emblems etc., direct the children’s effort to solve the problems or to the winning of the awards and prizes.

Variant Elements in Play

(a)   Play and Introspection

In true play the player is unconscious of personal values although he may be cognizant of the overt aspects of his behavior. He knows he is having fun; knows he has improved his technique in shooting marble, does hit the mark in throwing, and so on.

This is subordinate to spontaneous play. There is no introspection for either child or adult and true play experience does not need subsequent introspective evaluation, at least not until considerable maturity has developed and taken place.

When a child makes a good play and expresses his satisfaction by ecstatically clapping his hands or when he exclaims “good for me” it is an objective climactic incident in the culmination of his successful play, not an introspective evaluation which would divert his absorption in the game.

In the process of playing, the child is experiencing development but he is not cognizant of the fact, though he objectively expresses it, nor should he be made conscious of it by introspection for introspection destroys the spirit of play and its greatest value – visibility or the disposition to laugh. Play is contrary to introspection. In playing, the players are merely having fun and should never be made conscious of what play is doing for them.

(b)   Repetition and Skill

Repetition of an activity or in a play activity is needed in children’s play. Skills are produced by repetitious action rather than by variety. In the repetition of an activity the child is not becoming regimented by the repetition but rather is becoming adaptable. The child experiences delight by playing something over and over again, for the playing is never twice alike but is the game general pattern. As the play activity is repeated, the child becomes more skillful and is able to utilize the opportunities in the play situation more completely and competently.

Skills utilized in play are not an end in themselves but rather they are assets contributing to the person’s ability to do what he wants to do. For full value skills should be developed in the process of use. In play activities skills are developed in whole body play and can be used and controlled.

It is quite possible to acquire skill either by self-initiated practice or by practice as directed by someone else without acquiring insight into the broader applicability of the skill. The skill thus acquired then tends to be an end in itself and hence to have no meaning outside of the type of situation in which it was learned and to have no meaning as to its potential practical value in dissimilar situations and as social resource. A person highly trended in domestic arts and science may be limited in scope to the practice of his skills as set up by the situation in which they were learned.

Repetition in play activities is essential to getting more value from them. By both repetition and variety in forms of play together with freedom and order, players progress in depth and expansion, as well as skill, each in his own way. Also, what may be called personality or character attributes become increasingly stabilized.

(c) Play and Regimentation

Let us note the difference between regimentation and spontaneity in play. Regimentation is telling the players how to solve the problem in the situation and how to act in the process of playing. Spontaneity is letting the players find the way to play within the frame of reference and how to solve the problem in the play situation themselves[GS14] .

Spontaneity is a well spring of free self-initiated action and it works wonders in human beings. When you get a stimulating situation, such as a play situation, along with free action, potentialities are actualized. An atmosphere that invites spontaneity and friendliness is curative as well as developmental.

Living in the modern world requires a variety of resources, but if acquired under regimentation, tend to restrict originality, creativity and intelligence. When, however, the resources are developed in the social process of everyday living they tend to continue to be spontaneous and varied in relation to the occasion in which they occur.

Similarly, resources developed in true play are unlikely to be regimented, although play activities themselves can be made so by rigid teaching. Rigidity is always a block to originality and progress but the constructive spontaneous employment of resources, however limited, tends to create progress. When there is regimentation play gives way and there is little possibility of the values of play emerging. Too often there is regimentation in play. Adults counter with the comment, “The children do have fun”. This “fun” under conditions of regimentation is all too often not fun but over-excitement expressed in yelling, not laughter. Neither excitement nor yelling is objectionable on occasion, but for them to become the measure of play may defeat the more important values of play.

Children have the right to behave as children. Young children trained in the right way to do very much everything, guided and directed in detail, are prevented from making choices, judging whether to do this or that and how to do it. For children so reared there is only one way, the parent’s way. It denies the child the experience of making decisions.

Teaching a child how to behave, usually by verbal instruction, results in teaching the child the way to behave and is in fact taking possession of the child and dictating the finished form of behavior. Such children are often spoken of as being “beautifully trained”. Such training creates mental rigidity. Young children can be made to accept such training as if it were the only way to behave, but it leaves them ill equipped in originality for solving their problems, or making judgments and acting upon them, thereby testing their judgment.

When a child is “beautifully trained” he is also inhibited. Safeguards set up against every possible deviance or danger and imposed by others however lovingly, however well taught in the process of training the child, will deny the child the experience of dealing with situations according to his own judgment, making choices and acting upon them. What a child needs is a variety of stimulus patterns and to develop his own way in these situations.

In addition, rigidity and regimentation in teaching a child, prevents the revelation of objectionable traits.

(d)   Play as Creative Activity

Originality is an essential characteristic of  creativity whatever the medium of expression may be. Some forms of play are wholly created b the players, such as “playing house”, playing out family and community life, stores, church, school, circus, etc. Such play is based on experience always with some originality as occurred when a minister’s son playing house with his sisters was asked to say the blessing after the table had been set with a large tomato in a bed of leaves. He bowed his head and said with great solemnity: “Oh great and mighty potentate, we thank thee for this large tomatotate.”

This play in which the child is the creator and producer appears in various forms, the simplest of which is emulating the cat for instance, lapping milk as the child has seen the cat do, limping as he has seen the lame person limp. It may be a form of imitation. It is an indication of an introductory effort of the child’s desire to understand and reproduce in play or to get the feel of the thing he observes another to do. The child may not yet have a sufficient command of language to ask “what’s that?” or “how does he do it?” even though he tries to understand it by gestural action.

Imaginative play changes gradually to more realistic play. In self created play a child is free to include whatever comes to his mind and often to provide imaginatively whatever accessories he needs The young child, possibly under five years of age, playing house should make her own interpretations. If the child chooses to pour tea from an imaginary teapot or whatever is at hand, no comment needs to be made. The child carries forward what he has achieved. These acquisitions are not preserved as such but are assimilated and grow in process into something more suitable for the individual’s advancement.

The self initiated play of children may be capricious and confined to meagerly developed incidents with no apparent connection between them. This form of play is generally considered normal for children under three or four years of age. However, the play situation that is more conducive to the creative psychological participation of older children is of far greater value than that which permits them to continue capricious play. Incidentally, it may be said that mere aimless capricious while it may be of value in relaxing tensions is not play.

In self-created play it is not unusual of the individual child or group of children playing together to develop their main purpose even to a considerable extent and then to be carried away by a subordinate incident and thereby unwittingly desert their main purpose[GS15] . It appears that in such a case, an individual or group is swept  imaginatively off the main pattern or purpose by the satisfaction they are getting or envision in regard to the subordinate incident which may lead to creative adventure though not to logical behavior.

(e)    Cooperation in Play

Cooperation is inherent in many play activities particularly those which involve interaction among the players. This cooperative behavior in a play activity is motivated by the conception of the wholeness of the play activity and the satisfaction of the whole to all the participants.

Cooperation in play can be developed by the player experiencing the satisfaction the whole activity affords. Experience in realizing the satisfaction of the whole makes cooperation essential even though competition is one of the factors in the activity.

Every participant in dances, drama, group play activities, and games assumes the role he sees as necessary to the satisfactory carrying on of the activity as-a-whole and what he deems is his particular responsibility. Thus the more able dancers help the less able, actors in the drama give fellow actors opportunities[GS16] , and players in games do likewise. Because of this cooperative carrying on of the activity as-a-whole, all the participants get this experience of satisfaction from the activity. When human beings of whatever age and degree of intelligence engage in activities which require cooperative interaction, they all learn from one another and more from the leader, worker or teacher who is also a cooperating member of the group.

(f)     Play and Emulation

Emulation is one of the common human behavioral tendencies which can be more readily evoked in play activities than in academic subjects, and however develop, these tendencies become resources. Emulation takes place in the play of human beings, children, youth, and adults as well. It takes place in games and other social activities.

Emulation as defined in part byWebster:-The execution of an act supposedly as a s direct response to the perception of another person performing the act; to strive to equal or excel; to imitate with a view to equal or outdo-etc.

Emulation pre-supposes a stimulus pattern. A playful stimulus pattern is conducive and also essential to playful response, especially for young children. Fore example, an American teacher demonstrating forms of play with French children from the nursery school age to nine years finished a demonstration with the youngest group by making a challenging gesture and saying “you can’t catch me”. She started off running around the court with the  whole group of children following and laughing. The challenging of the children individually would probably not have evoked such a response in some of them, neither would they have responded so joyously to an un-playful verbal suggestion that they try to catch the teacher or that they all run around the court.

Emulation also pre-supposes a degree of skill. A child acquires a skill and retains it in an organism-as-a-whole correlation of muscular mechanism, feelings of satisfaction, intelligence, etc. This organism-as-a-whole functioning may be said to create psychological conditions which are favorable or even conducive to mental development and mental knowledge and thinking beyond the limitations of the senses and mental productivity.

For example, when a group of nursery school children between four and five years of age learned to jump rope in the tempo common to that of older children and in the beginning chanted rhymes they had learned from the older children, their form of play was evoked by the stimulus pattern provided by the older children. While they soon began creating their own rhymes, these children originated neither the rope jumping nor the rhyme making, rather they were exposed to such stimulus in their neighborhoods and emulation occurred. To evoke emulation observation of the process is necessary. Were one to bypass this emulation in jumping rope and induce children to create rhymes in perfect meter apart from jumping or similar well marked bodily rhythmic movement.

As has been stated previously,  emulation pre-supposes a stimulus pattern. It does not spring full orbed in the child, it is incubated in purpose and response-in-kind in infancy and nurtured in childhood play in positive and creative treatment of playthings, and in friendliness among playmates. When emulation occurs in play or other social activity, the over behavior of the one is likely to arise spontaneously and naturally rather than as exhibitionism of prowess. It serves as a stimulus for the others who do not copy but voluntarily strive to do likewise. Behavioral excellence provides stimulus patterns which are appropriate for evoking response no less excellent.

Perhaps the best value of emulation for both the initiator and the emulator lies in the fun and self determined discipline as it occurs for both in their voluntary exploitation of an activity to their full capacity. The emulator who needs neither to equal nor excel the initiator may get satisfaction and benefit even of doing no more than making progress or putting forth effort to that end.

Emulation has special significance for the growth and  development of the child as well as his education. It can be evoked in many children simply by their observing the achievements of another especially if the children are more or less closely and continuously associated, and if the demonstrated achievement is within their potential capability. Thus one skillful roly-poly, an O’Leary player, a rope jumper, or ball player, may serve as a stimulus to the while community. In fact, in self determined emulation, the original stimulus is likely lost sight of and, having made a beginning along with the others, the emulator may progress on his own power in the solitude in the practice of a skill either individually or together with others.

There is a difference between emulation and copying. The difference was illustrated in the teaching of two groups of children. One teacher lined up eight girls side by side. The girls were approximately twelve years of age. The teacher, a play leader, taught them a series of rope jumping patterns by herself demonstrating slowly and not too skillfully, patterns which the girls copied without the usual chanting of rhymes. Another play leader gathered a group of children together and started them singing a familiar song while she demonstrated a variety of plays with a ball in rhythm with the song. She then gave the children balls and joining them kept the rhythm of the song stable letting the children experiment in creating their own plays. Obviously the rope jumping provided no incentive for originality and creativity, simply imitation, whereas the ball playing provided for continuous and varied bouncing, tossing and catching interspersed with clapping the hands. Every child was left free to create his own play with emulation of others.

A fifth grade teacher in a public school understanding the value of emulation and being able to play the harmonica first played it skillfully on several occasions for the children of her classroom and subsequently explained and demonstrated for them the technique of playing. She then suggested that those who would like to learn to play the harmonica use part of the mid-day lunch period under her instruction. The children and the teacher decided that as soon as a childe experimentally worked out a tune correctly and helped another child do likewise he would then become a bona fide member of the Harmonica Club and be permitted to wear the pin which came with the harmonica. Forty five children earned membership in the club and became a harmonica band.

Emulation is a social product produced only in social association. Play activities in which players play indivudually7 or in groups involve an interactive process in which emulation is a personal influence. Players are challenged by the demonstrated ability of others and measure their ability against that of all the others.

In a play situation what one adopts or emulates from another’s play experience is in relation tot eh end to be attained in the play project, or the problem to be solved. It is not mere impulse to imitate.

For example, there is the case of Edith about whose early school experience there is no record.Edithresisted the play leader’s effort to induce her to participate in play activities  with the girls with whom she was associated in the classroom. She gave no outward evidence of a response-in-kind to the play leader’s friendliness. This friendliness had influenced the other girls eventually in emulating the friendliness by helping Edith to climb the cliffs. Later the girls helped her to play ball with them. Thus emulating the approach of the play leader the girls succeeded in getting Edith to participate in the play activities of the group.

The values of the achievements of a child to other players may be destroyed by extolling the child, who let alone might evoke emulation of his achievements in others. Extolling the child may create jealousy instead and make him a “show-off” as well. Given special privilege or praise may evoke resentment towards him on others instead of evoking emulation.

Competition in Play

Competition is also inherent in many forms of play. The competitive element between two or more players is inherent in all non-musical games, even in those played by young children, cat and rat, hid the thimble, for instance. Only games played by teams and athletic sports are in general considered to be competitive. There is nothing material at stake in a play activity in which competition in inherent.

Competition as Webster tells us is the “Act of seeking or endeavoring to gain what another is trying to gain at the same time”.  There need be no ill will in competition; in a general sense it may be said rather to be an effort to excel or outwit another concerned with the same purpose in a specific field or activity. Competition involves interpersonal reciprocity, integration, group momentum and so on, and may function dynamically and often concurrently. These aspects may be conceived as symbiotically created, mutually activating and sustaining in relation to a synthesizing situation, i.e., the framework of the play situation, a game for example.

In play activities in which competition is inherent the element of emulation may also be a factor. Emulation is said to be “emulation without envy; ambition without jealousy, contention without animosity”. To emulate is to try to equal or excel (a person, act, quality, etc.) or vie with.

“Emulation is a striving to surpass or to equal others; it is born of the contemplation of another’s greatness (or skill) and the desire to outdo him: hence it may be directed toward the following of one who is great; the result of emulation may be one of feeling or attitude; emulation is honorable and commendable.”

Competition is a more or less general way of measuring achievement or ability in an activity or field of endeavor, or it may involve a reciprocal process of active contesting in achieving defined ends.

Competition and emulation in the field of play have some points in common, one of which is the players being challenged by the demonstrated ability of others, and another is the individual or team testing, or measuring, of his own ability against that of others.

A mark of distinction between competition and emulation in the games, for instance, is that competition takes the form of one move by move, each player trying to gain advantage over the other, or the players of two teams trying to do so. The personal characteristics of the contestants are mutually influenced on the basis of empathy and reciproactive responsiveness, rather than aiming to develop specific attributes, develop the many elements that are used along with competition. Competition as the only motivation is one thing and competition along with other elements as motives is another. Competition may bring out patterns of difference which provide stimulus appropriate for evoking emulation in observers under almost any conditions.

Play activities in which the players play individually or in teams involve an interactive process  in which emulation is a more personal influence, less unconscious in both demonstration and/or the emulator.

Both competition and emulation are of inestimable value in objectively gaining a knowledge of oneself by comparison with others and in the development of whatRiesman(in Lonely Crowd) might call a healthy combination of “inner-directed and outer-directed”. This interpersonal contest in play is a process of measuring specific aspects of one’s ability in relation to that of another. The fact that competition is countered by cooperation, emulation and empathy tends to reduce its dominance. When the objective of the competition is carried on within concentric frames of reference, free from rewards other than the satisfaction of outwitting the opponent in the performance of the activity, it is not likely to breed ill will or jealousy. In other words, ill will is no essential part as competition in the play takes place.

Subordinate to fun, competition intensifies both fun and cooperation, but when distorted by extraneous rewards for winning, competition tends to create the reverse of all positive potential value.

It must be granted that competition can be so over-emphasized  especially by stakes that if ceases to be play and becomes a battle. It is possible to inject competition into almost any human activity and governed by fair practices, it may improve some forms of production; but it can neither be injected into the arts and non-competitive play without contributing to the destruction of their essential character. Even material symbols and trophies of no monetary value injected legitimately competitive play activities  are extraneous to the activity and tend to contribute to the destruction of true play. In other words, whatever diverts the artist or player from his spontaneous creativity tends to destroy it.

There is no accurate way of measuring the performance of the arts and whenever competition is injected into them it diverts the performer from spontaneous creativity. Competition in the arts often causes the winner to overestimate his talents and discourage the loser and in either case, tends to kill the true incentive to creativity.

In play, the players compete and experience fun and spontaneity when emphasis is not placed too heavily on the final winning of the game and/or on the excellence of the aesthetic factors and expression. Recognition or a prize, etc., are wholly extraneous to the arts and many play activities. External awards, prizes, etc., prevent the emergence of the more aesthetic nuances of play such as creativity, fun, spontaneity sentiment, and so on, but rather tend to create ill will towards competitors, and the determination to win by fair means or foul often leads to hatred and brutal treatment of the winners by the losers after the activity is over. The mere overemphasis on winning in competitive games played by school children creates ill will and often the competitive games between two teams, each from a different area results in fights between the winning and losing teams.

Overemphasis on competition and particularly the providing  of prizes or rewards of the winners reverses the goodwill which characterizes play free from such conditions, play in which excellence is acclaimed by goodwill. The policy of overemphasizing competition tends to make more and more of a place for those who excel and less and less of a place for those who fail. This selective process inevitably discourages the minority. Under a non-competitive, cooperative policy all can be encouraged including the excellent minority and approval gained without incurring the ill will of the competitors and not detracting from the fun for all. Overemphasis on the excellence of some may result in egoism.

Winning may be said to be an important element in all competitive games and it may be dominant in a situation without becoming a fixed characteristic. Someone has to win. But, fixed characteristics in regard to dominance or such as excelling or winning can subordinate more desirable or more valuable characteristics and give direction to the whole character of a person and can affect such forms as generosity or selfishness. Competition differs from winning in that it is a process of the players outwitting another whereas winning is centered on the finish. Experience has shown that a team or an individual who has developed fixed satisfaction of genuine play without overemphasis on winning is unlikely to be dominated by winning.

The insertion of competition in non-competitive play activities tends to commercialize and professionalize activities such as skating, swimming, and amateur sports as well as the arts such as drama and music in which emulation and/or cooperation otherwise might take place spontaneously. On the other hand, confining play too largely to non-competitive activities tends among other things to destroy emulation, strategy and the adventure of making judgments and acting upon them. Thus behavior essential to development and character may be prevented in a faulty non-competitive program.

One of the greatest values of all play activities lies in their potentials for bringing people into fun-producing groups. Competition may intensify the fun or destroy and distort values in such activities. The competitive element in non-competitive social association or groups tends to defeat happy relations. For instance, a program may be so planned that various groups contribute to a common program, each endeavoring to offer its best for the enjoyment of all; or the program may be confined to competition in sports, music, etc. Prizes of some value may sharpen the competition.

As an example, a small group of men and women came together in a public recreation center to play cards and the report of their enjoyment brought an increase of members until the group numbered over fifty. The competition inherent in the card games only added to the fun until prizes were introduced. In the beginning the prizes added zest to the playing, but later there was criticism regarding the difference in monetary value and also the purpose of winning superceded the enjoyment of playing together. Eventually, the whole group was completely disorganized and unfriendly relations were created among the members including those who were neighbors. So long as the inherent competition in the game was given its place in relation to other factors it contributed to the enjoyment of the players and did not bring into prominence either the best or the poorest players, but the prizes, a factor extraneous to the game not only destroyed the fun value of the game but also the friendly relations of the players entirely outside the play situation.

Selecting players for desired roles in play activities competitively may affect losing competitors adversely. Inferiority in one major activity as judged by one’s contemporaries may have the effect of defeating effort necessary for success in others. For example, a carefully reared high school girl making good grades was a competitor for the leading role in a play. The role was given to the other competitor, the daughter of a socially prominent family, many thought unfairly. The defeated girl apparently lost faith in honest effort and the teacher and drifted into paying the price for “having a good time”. She might have made good in another activity had she not been exposed to competitive selection.

Creative Play With Equipment

The child’s early experience, hence his education, includes his dealing with objects, therefore making the selection of playthings important. We need to be concerned with the significance of the child’s ability to translate his experience in everyday living and playing into symbolic forms other than principles. Children are likely to be attracted to worthless baubles and toys for which they cannot develop sentiment and which they are likely to destroy because these lead only to temporary satisfaction. This leads to frustration and tends to  develop destructiveness. Viewed from the educational point of view an important essential of play is not only lacking but a harmful counterfeit is substituted. Apparently the more sensitive and the greater the intelligence of the child the more harmful such experience becomes.

Play equipment and toys such as locomotives, moving devices, climbing apparatus, jumping accouterments, etc., tend to limit play behavior to a greater degree to reflexive functioning and to offer less scope for psychological functioning than do more dramatic forms of play. However, the dramatic may break through the limitations of the former as is evidenced by thymes either copied from others or created spontaneously by children, as in jumping rope. The dramatic forms of play linked with play equipment bring values not always connected with play with equipment as such. For instance, copying each other’s rhymes in jumping rope creates social  ties whether such copying is done consciously or unconsciously and regardless of the content of the thing copied, provided the attitude of the children is friendly.

In play activities such as play with equipment and toys, the material things cannot react dynamically to the child’s treatment of them. The individuated expression of the child by means of his play with toys and things, etc., often employed in diagnosis merely reveals the hidden problem but does not solve it.

A type of play which knocks down what a child builds is destructive and can result in a habitual destructiveness in the child’s play. Knocking down what the child builds does not lead to the building of better houses. The child should play with whatever he makes with his toys. Lack of satisfaction with what he has build may lead to his doing it over but not simply knocking it down.

Destructive treatment of playthings is cataclysmic behavior and does not lead to better use and more creativity. The child needs to appreciate his own efforts in playing with his toys.

A child’s playthings and other stimulus patterns in the home and environment can provide a variety of progressive experience as a whole which make the beginning of logical thinking and experience of profound importance as a basis of scientific intelligence. Fore example, a child who piles his blocks one upon another with the expectation that they will stand and finds that they do not and then experiments [that] until he succeeds is dealing intelligently with mechanical stress could contribute to his ability to plan in highly abstract symbolic form a blueprint for a bridge or other structure. Even though no such development takes place, his cause-effect experience with his blocks is an experience in intelligent mental behavior.

The material play equipment of children should stimulate curiosity, constructive activity, manipulation, and invention but should not present too many problems or be too complicated for their successful experimentation. For children between the ages of two and four, this is the time when the child’s own bodily mechanism develops rapidly, hence his need for playthings on wheels such as wagons, bicycles, doll buggies, trains, etc.

Valuable as imaginatively created forms of play are in comparison with organized games and dramatized stories, they lack certain important values, the greatest of which would seem to be the discipline of solving problems within a defined frame of reference. In spontaneously created play situations the players upon condition and yet the individual may be left free to create his own roles spontaneously while still conforming to the pattern of the whole. In playing family and community life, such as of the whole. In playing family and community life, such as playing house, school, church, store, etc., the frame of reference is only generally indicated and the individual is left free to act with only general reference to the nature of the undertaking.

As has been said elsewhere, the self initiated play of children may be merely capricious and confined to meagerly developed incidents with no apparent connection between them and yet each incident may have the essentials of true play and be imaginatively created. However, the type of play that is more conducive to the creative psychological participation of older children is of far greater value than that which permits them to continue with capricious play.

A creative activity such as playing house by groups of children necessitates some organization. The organization of a creative activity can be of two general sorts—one in which the organizing medium is ideational and permits expansion within concept and/or the concept and related ideas. The other is achieved by personal power or authority.

For example, when approximately fifteen girls between three and twelve years of age began “playing house” by marking off three foot squares on the floor for individual families, the leader used the ideational approach to help them organize their play.

A few children had a little housekeeping equipment which they brought but most of them had none and none was provided by the public community center except small chairs which were available and could be used as tables. The leader provided paper and scissors and suggested that the children make their own dishes.

In the children’s own homes there was likely always to be a baby so the leader cut out paper babies, clothed them in a paper napkin and gave them to the mothers “who loved babies”. The mothers were fairly well occupied with their housekeeping but the children had too little of interest to occupy them. The teacher conferred with the “mothers” as to what the children might do and quite naturally they suggested school. All the children were sent to school. The leader expected and got order and participation in singing, dancing, and learning to count, marking, etc., from even the youngest. The older ones were required to read from whatever was available. Later, a blackboard was provided for the school.

As this “playing house” on Saturday afternoon increased in popularity the attendance ran approximately between fifty and seventy and included a small minority of boys between seven and nine years of age. In this kind of play, boys are often neglected. Boys can have a part; play roles as store delivery men, fathers, etc.

The leader instantly opened a factory and hired “fathers” to make paper household equipment. Since it was not then usual for real mothers to work in factories only some of the older girls but not any of the “mothers” were also hired. The factory necessitated a time schedule in the home of the families. The leader struck the hour on the piano for the workers to go to the factory and the children to go to school and again atnoonwhen both went home for lunch. After lunch both returned to work and school respectively, the latter under a new teacher.

After a few weeks, more boys came and the leader talked with several of them about the stores that were needed. A grocery store and a coal peddler were established and the latter was equipped with a horse and wagon, three boys making the wagon and one the horse. One man kept a grocery store which was similarly equipped for taking orders and delivering. While these were not familiar functions in their community they accepted it and at once went about taking orders as did the coal man. The commodities were wholly imaginative as was the money but the teacher insisted that the mothers and the order takers remember precisely what was ordered and that the mothers refuse to take what they had not ordered and that the delivery boys rectify their mistakes. These exactitudes gave dignity to the transactions which the children liked.

The leader visited the school. She took the role of principal and was eager to be shown the children’s ability. Her visit to the factory was as the owner or manager and to the homes as a visiting nurse. In these roles, the leader could suggest changes, improvements, and discreetly show appreciation. The improvement in the production of household goods and equipment was brought about by demonstrating the way goblets could be made from tissue paper.

Children do need help in organizing their resources in play. When the Polish children dramatized community life, the home the school, factory and the grocer store the leader had to suggest these elements and organize the children on the basis of the meaningfulness of the particular activity for the individual and his group and to keep the groups in meaningful relation to each other and to the whole. Dishes made by the factory workers had to be needed by the homemaking mothers. The school had to teacher the youngest children and to assign work to the older ones. The store keepers had to take orders for goods and the mothers had to do the ordering and both had to remember the order. The mother had to refuse the wrong order and the delivery man had to exchange it at the store and deliver it the home. The method used and the organization of the activity was as follows:

The question may be asked-how could this community activity be carried on in a single room? Each home was a 2 ½ or 3 feet square drawn on the floor with chalk with a small table or chair used as a table. Some of the mothers brought bits of food, a chair, scissors. Construction paper and colored crayons were provided for all factory workers. The school had a large blackboard, white crayons, and chairs.

Only the children between two and four were sent to school unless an older child had to help a younger brother or sister to adjust to the school. When the attendance in the whole group was approximately fifty, the activities could be kept going by the worker going from group to group more as a visitor than a leader.

When the attendance went above sixty, the overflow children were provided with games, equipment and played in the corridor, the worker joining them long enough to introduce simple games at intervals.

A large group of children is like a heap of building materials which must be organized into a house or be misused and wasted. Children can be organized and structuralized in their play into a meritorious functioning unit.

So meager were the resources of the Polish children playing community life that had they not been so organized by the worker the individual units could not have sustained themselves.

Theory of Transformation

All living organisms are influenced by their relations to their environment. Wild creatures placed in domestication whether it be represented by the human kind or their own kind or a mixture of the both or other types of animals, undergo change in the relation to the general character of the environment. Just how these changes are brought about we do not know.

We are all influenced by our environment but we tend to distinguish between the individual element a and the meaning of the multi-various elements and their mutual influence as well as their susceptibility to intelligent integration by the person experiencing the process. The child no doubt gives attention to single objects in his environment and events but he also, by means of intelligence and originality, correlates homogeneous elements into meaningful wholes.

It is generally characteristic of the human being to relive through memory dynamic past experience imaginatively and also to translate or transform them through the written or spoken language, through painting a picture, and through play, and otherwise transform the experience symbolically. Susanne Langer says:

“The fact that the human brain is constantly carrying on a process of symbolic transformation of experiential data that come to it causes it to be a veritable fountainhead of more or less spontaneous ideas.”

A fountainhead may lie dormant or send forth only a trickle for years and when it is opened by lifting the rock that blocks its flow it can either be allowed to waste itself by sinking into the ground or rocky hillside, or it can be piped to the village below. It is quite possible for the mental fountain provided with appropriate stimulus to spout a mental stream. Practical experience appears to show that for the masses of infants the flow is not self started nor does it continue without a stimulating environment. However, apparently the deadened condition can be sparked and given impulse for expression.

Translation of experience is an expression of great value, a creative original. By repeated social experience in which the individual identifies specific elements of behavior in a variety of situations, he tends to generalize. That is, he abstracts from the experiences, organizes and created or translates into ideas. Even though the child has learned to talk, his vocabulary will be too limited to express in words all that he is ready and wishes to express. Neither is he able to organize all his experiences overtly and therefore he may not try to express it without some stimulus. Play helps him translate and express his experiences.

The child sorts out impressions and memory of what is pertinent to the idea he proposes and proceeds to telescope and transform his everyday experience, possibly widespread in time and space, into a combination, an ideational and imaginative form in play. Once can speculate as one thinks he observes the effect of such play on the child who appears to evince irradiant delight in the process and with a lapse in time as this settles into a pleasant memory. The child experiences delight in playing this over and over again, never twice alike but in the same general pattern.

In this process the child transforms what he sees going on around him perhaps over a long period of time or as a vivid single experience-such as a journey by railroad. He reorganizes in close sequence the events of the past by which he tells his story as he relives the experience to himself, even as the adult may write it in his diary, or in a novel or in creating a drama.

When Wagner transposed Norse Mythology in Grand Opera, the world accepted it as a great artistic achievement. When a young child transposes the commonplace experience into dramatic play form it is passed by as insignificant, “only a kind of play he will soon outgrow.” Transposition of the commonplace into imaginative and poetic form not only advances the child beyond the limitation of sensory experience but provides the stimulus pattern for creation and expression of the purely imaginative. Adequately stimulated this creative behavior is common to young children and can have its beginnings in simple forms.

The translation of experience goes on in a [sic] world in a large scale. The young child “playing house” is a demonstration of what might be called free translation of home life and of synthesizing the routines of family life and the disparate incidents he experiences in the family. The child sees housekeeping activity going on and transforms it by a process of selection and organization into playing house, caring for the baby, or washing the dishes. He may tell whoever is present what he envisions is going on. There are many possible incentives for such communication. When we have had an interesting, meaningful or exciting experience reliving and/or sharing it with others is satisfying. Such translation of an experience into play is often spoken of as imitation but this is a misconception. From early childhood the individual is transforming objects into something else. Anything he can haul by a string becomes a peddler’s wagon or merely a wagon and himself the peddler or somebody who hauls whatever his imagination and experience suggests.

The transferring of one experience of one kind into another form is characteristic of children who know how to play. For example,Paulat the age of fifteen months, had a concentrated recent experience on a train trip and was intelligent enough to organize it in play with very little help. He was taken on a daytime journey of approximately a hundred miles on a railroad passenger train. Following this at home he made a train by placing chairs in the dining room and induced his mother to become a passenger while he became the conductor. One morning a few weeks later he was left with a neighbor while the parents took care of a business matter. The neighbor, having no playthings, sat down on the floor with a deck of cards, some of which Paul promptly placed in a long line on the floor but went no farther. The neighbor ran her two fingers swiftly along the cards saying “here comes a train.” Paul immediately tried to make his fingers run like a train but failed. On the suggestion of the neighbor he made trains with the playing cards in several rooms.

Probably Paul would not have used the cards to make a train by himself; rather the stimulus pattern provided by the neighbor served as a synthesizing medium for a second form of synthesis and translation. Providing stimulus patterns, if necessary, when imagination and timing is ripe but at the same time, permitting the child freedom to put his own content into the play structure is sound.

The assumption that this playful transformation occurs without appropriate stimulus and activation and nourishment of the imagination seems to be false. Nevertheless, the belief that the neglect of such play experience in infancy and early childhood cannot be activated in later childhood has been proven to be false although it apparently does not fully compensate for the neglect of play in the earlier period.

When in infancy the parent supplies stimulus patterns, i.e., plays with the baby, he will be likely to create his play spontaneously or without objective stimulus but this may not be the case. It is probable that one factor may be a set of elements from various past or present stimuli. For instance, a cup shaped like a frying pan may recall a fish fry on the beach, lunch time in the nursery school, or any event the child has shared in the family kitchen and sets him up playing a combination of all these.

The form of the playful transformation of experienced events in the past may run a gamut from a single gestural demonstration of particular element of a simple event such as imitating the running of a train which the child had seen or a more elaborate transformation of an experienced journey by train. However, much or little the child includes it will be a free translation rather than copy. The infant copies gestural demonstrations such as “Patty Cake”, but this is not transformation.

Children reared in the housekeeping routine of family life and also sharing in outside events which serve as dynamic stimulus translate their experience into play. The young child’s playing house is a demonstration of what might be facetiously called free translation of home life, synthesizing the routines of family life and the disparate incidents he experiences in the family.

In civilized society a child is exposed to the phenomenon of stimulus patterns of human behavior and everyday family life and also to their translation of transformation into symbolic expression. This experience differs in value and in form in different cultural groups, communities and families, and also in the relation of child development and the stimulus patterns and its transformation. When the stimulus patterns and the form of translation in the experience are ill timed in regard to maturation and when the intrinsic value of the stimulus patterns is low, they are likely to result in problem behavior in the child.

A child without symbolic resources which enable him to transform his impulses and other experiences into symbolic forms of play may develop and use organismic potentials in such forms as bodily skills and practical work, as is characteristic of less developed primitive peoples. Such people are often said to be happy if they have no more than food and shelter. Nevertheless, they create ritual in relation to evident aspects of human development, and also create mythology to symbolize phenomenal of which they are cognizant but do not understand scientifically. Without the ability to effect such symbolization the individual lives on the animal level of life which is normal for animals but abnormal for man. On the contrary, the fulfillment of the ability to translate practical experience into abstract forms of symbolization is to rise higher and is directed toward the understanding, discovery and use of science. Obviously such education neglected in infancy and later childhood is conducive to individual and tribal animality and renders the Individual susceptible to mis-education as well.

Children need both the kind of stimulus patterns which create imagination in the “story” and its Illustration together with its playful gestural translation, which constitutes patterned-stimulus and patterned translation symbolically in gesture and speech. Such patterned stimulus opens the way for aesthetic. experience and its expression. The significance of expression Is not Sufficiently understood by agencies in which the policy is to provide the occasion for the manifest expressiveness but neglecting to spark the fountain of those In which the expressiveness is still dormant.

Stimulus patterns are needed to stimulate arid develop imagination in those who lack imaginative expressiveness. Both dull and brilliant children who lack expressiveness can be made very unhappy by this lack arid without intelligent help may never be able to realize their potential best.

In attempting to nurture imaginative expressiveness, the policy of exposing the unexpressive persons, whether children or adults to dynamic stimulus-patterns expressed has merit but when the inexpressive individuals are confined to roles requiring only their manifest ability in expressiveness or when demands are made on them which arc too far in advance of their ability, this frustrates the individual rather than opens up the fountain head. Confining the unexpressive to roles which call for only their manifest ability to express is common practice, nevertheless, a role demanding more than the individual Is potentially capable of fulfilling commendably or at least satisfactorily to himself holds the danger of discouraging further effort.

It is quite possible that in the development of imaginative expressiveness the many potential personal values of such expressiveness in translation may be prevented by the play leader, teacher or parent, taking a dominant role in the process, creating rigidity, introversion, introspection, or other concern with self and one’s own behavior. Nevertheless, the character of play behavior in play activities such as story playing, singing, dancing, playing instruments, games and dramatic acting is essentially extroversive and therefore can free the translator from self arid open the way for spontaneous imaginative translation of one form of experience into new forms of expression. In spontaneously created play situations, the role takers may be left free to create their roles spontaneously while still conforming to the pattern Of the whole for the players will hold themselves responsible to act within the confines  of the agreed upon conditions of the play.

In spontaneously created play situations children engage in synthesizing and translate into play in a single process as a coordinated whole incidents which are significant to them. In recalling past experience we tend to synthesize, and bring together the elements of significance on the basis of ‘Interest, idea or purpose. This same general pattern in the process Is followed by children when they dramatize stories although the frame of reference is more definitely determined that it Is, for instance, in playing house.

In playing family life and life in the community, house, store, school, church, etc., the frame of reference is only generally indicated arid the individual player is left free to act with only general reference to the nature of the undertaking. He may, for instance, create a school for those playing the role of the children in the families, and if there is sufficient consensus it will be incorporated functionally into the organization without verbal agreement. The “children” then must go to School, sit quietly while in school for school means compunctions to act within the pattern. The children must go to schools, sit quietly, sing, read, recite lessons, etc.

In these play situations when translation of the children’s life experience is going on, help may be needed to get them out of dilemmas beyond their experience and therefore control. In a certain neighborhood, girls eight and nine years of age came together to play house or family life. In the course of’ play, their dolls became sick babies and as they shared this information with one another, the babies grew worse until the children were no longer enjoying their anxiety but could not pull themselves out of the illusion they had created and had intensified by drawing down the shades.

When the play leader sensed the situation and announced herself as a doctor, made a succession of visits to the homes to obtain information regarding the nature of the illness and what treatment the mothers had given, and, with a mixture of approval and suggestions regarding the mother’s care. the babies began to improve, the window shades were raised because fit the babies needed sunshine and shortly all had recovered.

Seemingly the routine experience of everyday living does not always provide Sufficient expression for the child whose imagination has been sparked but one may suspect it may create imaginary situations such as the foregoing.

A two year old boy created a family and identified if with a particular doorknob. He talked freely about it for several weeks and then dropped it. Subsequently he took offense when another person mentioned the name he had given the family. Play of this sort appears to go beyond having a basis In experience, such as playing railroad trains, or sick babies, or school. Of course the doorknob family had a realistic basis in the boy’s family life, but the goings on seemed to have no such counterpart as he created. His imaginative play was far more fanciful.

If a child has toy soldiers he may translate them into a concept of real soldiers even though he has never seen such, but his toy soldiers and the pictures of real soldiers in addition to his having mistaken the uniformed door man for a soldier is sufficient experience for him to transform his blocks into his concept of Soldiers and their activities. This concept can provide a basis for the impulse to learn more facts about soldiers by which his concept will be corrected and enlarged.

There is something to be said about the value of translating experience in a variety of forms.

For, instance, when a group of young women rated as extremely retarded mentally learned to cook in a private institution and later cooked in their own homes it wrought a great change in the family relations and also enabled the young women to use what they had learned under instruction and supervision on their own initiative and responsibility in a new Situation. Later when those young women had learned to plan and prepare a luncheon including arranging the table and an arrangement of’ flowers, they prepared such a luncheon for their own group and took roles in turn as hostesses for a guest.

While this experience of the retarded young women may be said to be on the practical level it contains elements of the higher order such as aesthetic and social ritual which would appear to mark an advance in symbolization. The progress these young women made was based on using the manifest and realizing the potentials in translating experience to higher levels of accomplishment.

To expect the transfer per se of enthusiasm from one activity to another as is so often done reveals a misunderstanding of the difference in organic and symbolic functions, to disregard (lie fact that one aspect of behavior in a new configuration or situation may not influence the whole. It is rather that more of the person being used intelligently enriches the whole person, even as the assimilation of’ appropriate food makes a better whole physical body, both of’ which can be used in whatever activity they apply. The carry-over may be direct or indirect, specific or general.

A direct transfer of specific behavior might in some cases be possible but it is more likely that it might be assimilated and bring about improved organism- as-a-whole functioning.

In short, when an activity evokes more of the potential person and/or puts to work more of his organic resources, it may safely be accepted that it contributes to the energy Put into other undertakings.

Transfer or the carry-over from one experience to another is affected by the emotional content of the total experience, the fun, as well as the specific mental form of functioning such As attention, remembering, quarreling, fighting, fear of failure, happiness, pleasure, disappointment, etc. There has been much concern regarding the carry-over value from play and games to other experiences such as everyday fife and school. A play situation Is a challenging problem. Play must be a spontaneous problem-solving experience for the players. Play should not be indulged in for the sake of development of bodily skill or merely engaged in for the purpose of exercising the body. There ;ire values in play that come through playing and these are likely to be carried over or transformed from the play experience to others.

Role of the Worker in Play

The promotion of the values of play behavior in play activities is the responsibility of the educator whether he be a teacher, ;I play leader, or a group worker. The professional worker In play activities is at present confined to the directing of the play life of children and the recreational pursuits and social group activities of youth and adults. The task Involves the adjustment of the individual to his cultural group, to his associates or peers In his intimate group contacts, and to develop his concept of the relation of the intimate group to the larger cultural group through such activities as fall within the field of play, recreation, and social group life. The play situation or recreational area within which lie functions can he controlled by the educator or teacher through the selection of the activities which are carried on by the groups of participants. The play situation and activities arc of great importance in the education of’ the participants.

To get the best educational results from the play and recreational activities of the group, the worker must play psychologically with the group. Much of the time the worker must play a dual role of- both player and teacher and this is quite possible. The worker must keep the frame of reference Intact or help the group do so by raising objections when any participant falls to act consistently with, and only when, none of the other participants assume that responsibility, for the participants should get all the experience possible not only in obeying the law or functioning according to the agreements, but In compelling others to do so.

In the problem-solving situation the worker must be an observing participant, active or passive, one or the other Intermittently to be able to know if, and in what way, and when to contribute. This close observation contributes to the worker’s understanding of the specific problems of both the Individuals and the group as a whole as they occur or are revealed in the actual problem-solving effort of the group. Thus worker observation and contribution encourages the participants whether they be children, youth, or adults to persist.

While personal relations between the worker and the group arc important, play activities and the activities of social groups are of greater influence than are the personal relations between the leader and the individual in the group. The worker’s leadership and help is in playing the double role of getting into the activity psychologically, imaginatively and empathetically, and thereby being instant in contributing to the activity when needed and avoiding detracting from the group unity by withdrawing from the activity and the group psychologically. This appears to be a matter of the worker getting into the activity both psychologically and imaginatively and empathizing and establishing rapport with the players as a unit and on occasion with the individual. Thus the group and the worker become a unit psychologically and functioning through the medium of the play activity even though the worker does not become an active participant physically.

It is tinder such conditions that both the worker and players are so motivated by the same forces and centers of’ activities that every member of the group shares in the whole and in the efforts of each other. When human beings of whatever age and degree of intelligence engage in activities which require interaction they all learn from each other and more from the worker or teacher who is a cooperating participating member of the group.

Children need help in carrying on play activities, help in organizing their resources, particularly when they are playing spontaneously and creatively. Helping children organize their spontaneous group play such as playing out community and home life can be done in two ways.

The first is when the organizing medium is ideational and permits expansion within the concept and/or the concept and related ideas. The other is achieved by personal power or authority of the worker or teacher. The first method is illustrated in the example of children “playing house”.

When a group of children play out community and home life the worker may need to suggest the elements that could be included and help them organize the play on the basis of the meaningfulness of the particular activity for the individual child and his group and to keep the groups in meaningful relation to each other and to the whole.

It is possible too for a worker or coach to dictate play to such and extent that the players are neither permitted to act spontaneously on the basis of their won intelligence or their own conception of the situation, nor to undertake the solution of the problem in the activity on their own initiative. This type of help or dictation in play tends to kill empathy.

One may ask what harm is there in substituting the worker’s dictation of procedure in play for the initiative of the players themselves, particularly since the group of players does need some help? When the worker takes on the role of dictating procedure in play it defeats self initiated intelligence, confuses the player who should be making the most of his opportunity to act on his own total feeling of intelligence. It also tends to defeat objective thinking and acting and make a player dependent rather than adventurous and intelligently experimental.



[1] Mather, Dr. Kirley F., Harvard geologist and president of AAAS. From a speech reported in the Christian Science Monitor, January 1958. Speech given inPhiladelphia.


 [GS1]This is what Viola Spolin espoused and based her practice on.

 [GS2] How true. This is the key to authenticity in human interaction; the schism between “acting” and “acting like” or imitating.

 [GS3] Mind/Body connection as it is now referred to. Or Body/Mind – Chopra, Spolin et. al.

 [GS4]Mihaly Ciczentmihaly in his book Flow discusses this principle at length.

 [GS5]This is what Viola Spolin espoused and based her practice on.

 [GS6]My italics (Gary Schwartz)

 [GS7] Spolin would call this “being in her head” referring to self-consciousness or as Boyd would term it, “Self-reference”.

 [GS8] This concept is so embedded in our culture and becomes invisible because the authoritarian hides behind the veil of free play by the players. Usually teachers are those who have been singled out for achievement and try to engineer a similar outcome in their charges. The politics of this matrix causes much conflict and confusion in work situations.

 [GS9] How true. This is the key to authenticity in human interaction; the schism between “acting” and “acting like” or imitating.

 [GS10] She understood this as described in the later work of Mihaly Cziczentmihaly’s “Flow”

 [GS11] Mind/Body connection as it is now referred to. Or Body/Mind – Chopra, Spolin et. al.

 [GS12] This is Spolin’s concept of focus. Overload the psyche and intuition is borne. GS.

 [GS13] This is the key idea concerning Spolin’s adoption of non-authoritarianism in directing children. Yet keeping play on track is needed. Thus the invention of side-coaching.

 [GS14] This is a significant point that Spolin used in her work, that brings out autonomy over authoritarianism. (Or as Boyd puts it – regimentation)

 [GS15] Pure improvisation.

 [GS16] This is boiled down to the sidecoach phrase “Help your fellow player”.

Comments (1)

  • Theories of Play - DeepFUN

    |

    […] my brother-in-improv Gary Schwartz published a quote from Neva Boyd's A Theory of Play in my Playful […]

    Reply

Leave a comment