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The Question Mark
Vol 6|No4|April|2010

Play, Experimentation & Improvisation
By Jamie McKenzie
© 2009, all rights reserved
“The play’s the thing.”

Shakespeare had something different in mind when he wrote those words  
for Hamlet to speak, but for this article, the words underline the  
importance of play in the early years of a child’s life as a  
foundation for imaginative thought and production.

----- The disappearance of play -----

The current drift of culture in many countries actually works to  
undermine the vitality of play, especially free play. According to a  
recent study, “Children’s Pastimes and Play in Sixteen Nations: Is  
Free Play Declining?” by Dorothy G. Singer, Jerome L. Singer, Heidi  
D’Agostino, and Raeka DeLong in the Winter 2009 issue of the American  
Journal of Play, “A decline in opportunities for free play and  
experiential learning is eroding childhood around the world.”

"Through two years of interviewing, we hear the voices of mothers from  
around the world calling out in Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Thai,  
and other languages. . . . deeply concerned that their youngsters are  
somehow missing out on the joys of childhood and experiential learning  
opportunities of free play and natural exploration."
Even though a number of organizations such as the American Association  
of School Librarians, ISTE (the International Society for Technology  
in Education) and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills are calling  
for schools to stress original thought and imaginative production,  
schools in the  United States and many other countries have been  
caught up in handling the demands of high-stakes testing in ways that  
might block such goals.

The article is continued online at

Jamie McKenzie
 From Now On -
The Question Mark -
917 12th St.
Bellingham, WA 98225

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