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Taylor Milne's picture

            I have always believed that play is one of the most important aspects of humanity due to the creativity that is ultimately involved in playing. Due to my strong belief in the benefits of playing, I am disturbed by schools that teach people how to work, while diminishing their ability to play creatively. After four years of traditional high school focused on working, I was greatly intrigued by this Emily Balch Seminar when I read its synopsis. I thought this class would be so unique and would give me a creative way to learn about this new city that I was moving near, but had only visited twice. I was initially interested by the idea of analyzing different states of play, and being able to play myself, the trips into Philadelphia just happened to be a perk to me.

            After the class began, I was pleasantly surprised by Mark Lord’s teaching style, and his general belief that that everyone has important individual thoughts and there is no “wrong answer.” This initially first pushed me out of my comfort zone of what a class conversation could entail, as I was no longer looking for the answer that the teacher or text book believed was right, but was instead looking for the answer that was most correct to me as an individual. Already without even beginning to “play” I was able to feel the outlets of creativity within the class opening, even in just the general opening conversations we had.

            One of the greatest aspects of this class is that it is conversationally based, and we all have the ability to build off of each other’s ideas, which allows for our own thoughts and opinions to develop and grow. After the first couple of classes I felt that we became comfortable with each other, and with sharing our opinions with this small and new group of strangers. We now all know each other, and have become a small community that is all working together to learn what it means to play, and how all of our different experiences influence our conversations.

            Having the opportunity to go into Philadelphia and create both common and our own experiences, has created a wonderful base for our class discussions, leading to a spider web of conversations revolving around cities, playing, Philadelphia, art, creativity, and various other topics and opinions that I would never have touched on without the help of Mark and my other classmates, which I believe has allowed me to both expand my mind and my experiences.

            Each trip into Philadelphia has offered me a new opportunity to shape and expand my experiences, both in class and in my life. It is so helpful to have assigned places to go and explore, but I also love that we have the option to explore the city on our own, and find places by chance. Familiarizing myself with the city has been both an educational and creative experience, and every street of the city I have been able to explore has allowed me to further analyze both the city, and how it as a playground connects to our experiences in play. I personally think that all of our assigned locations are a wonderful base ground to begin our understanding of the city, but that most of the “playing” comes from our traveling on our own and in small groups when we are allowed to move around and find things by chance.

            I believe that the combination of the readings we are assigned and the trips into the city allow for the class as a whole to create their own opinions on play, and allow for us to both accept and challenge the definitions that have been presented to us. This in turn permits us to grow as scholars, and I believe that through our postings and discussions, we are allowing this class to help shape us as individuals in the Bryn Mawr community.