Sunday, June 18, 2017

Discovering the history of play

You can't stop the future, You can't rewind the past, The only way to learn the secret to press play.” 
 Jay Asher

After reading so much about this delightful, all-encompassing phenomenon called Play, I was intrigued to know the history behind it. So I paused and did my bit of rewinding to know more about it. Let me share with you what I learnt, I promise for it to be a fascinating read.

When the word history struck to me, I felt I should rewind back to my childhood days play scenarios, which is also a history now. It was chaotic! I remember lot of dust, dirt and noise surrounding me. The dust and dirt were my favourite clothes and the noise was music to my ears, but not for everyone. The adults were always complaining about the noise levels, and were stuck with the question,”why do you make so much noise, can’t you be quite while playing”!. So this brings up my big question, what was the attitude of our historians towards play. Did they look at play as noisy and disturbing, or was it something else?

It all began in the era of B.C. when philosophies and discoveries by Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Xenophanes were popular. These philosophers also explored the meaning of play. According to them, play was a way, through which human expression and thought process could be understood. Plato mentioned in ‘The Republic (360 B.C)’, that play builds childhood, which is a form of learning, and the knowledge acquired through it will be used for later life. This philosophy holds good even now, as I know very well all the problem solving skills, creative thinking, critical thinking I developed is through the play activities of my childhood and I get to hone them more even now playing with my next generation.

Interestingly, the Greek’s ancient religious practices, describes a number of play forms, that helped gain an understanding of ancient lives. ‘Agon, mimesis and chaos’, are the three routes for understanding play and we do continue to think of play on these three basis. Now, now! These three words are not making sense at all, right? To know about these words, wait up for the next blog entry. Until then ponder over this game – do you remember Raja, Rani, Mantri and Thief game? Well, if you do, play it once, and then you will never stop. 

- Dr. Srividya R.

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